Handy Substitutions

CATEGORIES: Informational Posts

So it’s been a wild couple of weeks full of food craftiness and delicious treats! It’s been awhile since we’ve covered handy kitchen tips, so that’s what’s up! Don’t worry, we won’t be completely boring while Sara’s gone; something yummy is cooking up for Friday!

I think everyone has a cookbook that they keep coming back to for good, basic recipes–you know, the Betty Crocker or the Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks, the ones they got from their moms when they got married. Mine is The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (I originally typed that out as The Ultimate Southern Luving Cookbook. That would be a completely different set of instructions that would probably not fit our family-friendly reader demographic…) When I was learning to cook, I read it cover-to-cover countless times and even now, sometimes I’ll bring it to bed with me just to look at the gorgeous pictures and think of all the amazing things in it that I haven’t made.

Anyway, one of the things I really love about it is that it’s got some awesome appendices in the back. There is an extensive list of substitutions and I always find myself flipping back there when I suddenly find myself without rum. I mean baking powder.

I haven’t included the entire list because some of the things are so obscure that I doubt you’ll ever cross a recipe that needs them. But now you can bookmark this page and the next time you need 1 cup of miniature marshmallows but only have 10 large ones, you’ll know where to turn!

Handy Substitutions
Click here to print text only

Baking Products

  • Baking powder, 1 tsp.: 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar + 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • Semisweet chocolate, 1 oz.: 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate + 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • Unsweetened chocolate, 1 oz. or square: 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa + 1 Tbsp. butter, margarine, shortening, or oil
  • Semisweet chocolate chips, 6 oz., melted: 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, 2 Tbsp. shortening, + 1/2 c. sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 c.: 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate (decrease fat in recipe by 1/2 Tbsp.)
  • Corn syrup, light, 1 c.: 1 c. sugar heated to a syrupy consistency with 1/4 c. water (GENIUS!!)
  • Cornstarch, 1 Tbsp.: 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • See flour substitutions here
  • Marshmallow cream, 7-oz. jar: 16 oz. package marshmallows, melted, plus 3 1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • Marshmallows, miniature, 1 c.: 10 large marshmallows
  • Pecans, chopped, 1 c.: 1 c. regular oats, toasted (in baked products); this is another smart one, especially for people with nut allergies!
  • Powdered sugar, 1 c.: 1 c. sugar + 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, processed in food processor
  • White sugar, 1 c.: 1 c. corn syrup; decrease liquid in recipe by 1/3 c.

Dairy Products

  • Buttermilk, 1 c.: 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice, plus milk to make 1 c. (let stand 10 minutes); 1 c. milk + 1 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • Sweetened condensed milk, 14 ounces: Heat 1/3 c. +2 Tbsp. evaporated milk, 1 c. sugar, 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine until sugar and butter dissolve
  • Sour cream: Plain yogurt


  • Tomato sauce, 2 c.: 3/4 c. tomato paste + 1 c. water
  • Chili sauce, 1 c: 1 c. tomato sauce, 1/4 c. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. vinegar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, dash of grown cloves, dash of allspice
  • Ketchup (for cooking): 1 c. tomato sauce, 1/2 c. sugar, 2 Tbsp. vinegar


  • Allspice, ground, 1 tsp.: 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • Apple pie spice, 1 tsp.: 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • Bay leaf, 1 whole: 1/4 tsp. crushed bay leaf
  • Chives, chopped, 1 Tbsp.: 1 Tbsp. chopped green onion tops
  • Garlic, 1 small clove: 1/8 tsp. garlic powder or dried garlic
  • Garlic salt, 1 tsp: 1/8 tsp. garlic powder plus 7/8 tsp. salt
  • Herbs, fresh, 1 Tbsp.: 1 tsp. dried herbs or 1/4 tsp. ground herbs
  • Mustard, dry, 1 tsp.: 1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
  • Onion powder, 1 Tbsp.: 1 medium onion, chopped or 1 Tbsp. dried minced onion
  • Parsley, dry, 1 tsp.: 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley
  • Pumpkin pie spice: 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/8 tsp. ground allspice, 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Vanilla bean, 1: 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp.: 1 tsp. bottled steak sauce

Alcohol (use water, white grape, or apple juice to make up the rest of the amount of liquid called for in the recipe)

  • Amaretto, 2 Tbsp.: 1/4-1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • Bourbon or Sherry, 2 Tbsp.: 1-2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Brandy, fruit-flavored liqueur, port wine, rum, or sweet cherry, 1/4 c. or more: Equal amount of unsweetened orange or apple juice plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract or corresponding flavor
  • Brandy or rum, 2 Tbsp.: 1/2-1 tsp. brandy or rum extract
  • Grand Marnier, 2 Tbsp.: 2 Tbsp. unsweetened orange juice concentrate
  • Kahlua, 2 Tbsp.: 1/2-1 tsp. chocolate extract plus 1/2-1 tsp. instant coffee dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water
  • Red wine: Equal amount of red grape or cranberry juice
  • White wine: Equal amount of white grape or apple juice

Whew! That’s a lot to get through! So tell me, those of you who have made it–what’s YOUR cookbook that you keep going back to for the basics?


  1. Thank you for all this info. I’ve got to print and put it with all my cookbooks. Last week I need corn syrup and I knew there had to be away to make it and I was right. Thanks!

  2. Lately, my go-to place for recipes is allrecipes.com. In my early married days before we had internet, I got the Quick Cooking magazines and mostly cooked out of them.

  3. Michelle–Nah, it’s not a big deal at all. In fact, I think most recipes that call for brown sugar are calling for light brown sugar because dark brown sugar has become harder and harder to find.

  4. OH my lanta. This is great! I’m a new cook and there have been plenty of times when I’ve thought; ” I dont have “that”, I wonder what else I can use!”. haha. One question. Is it a big deal to use brown sugar if the recipe calls for LIGHT brown sugar?!

  5. Oooh, Lolly, you’re a creative genius! 🙂

    P.S. My word verification is “hagmeet.” As in, “I came in second at last week’s hagmeet.” Or “I can’t go to the movies with you, Brian, because I’m socializing with others of my kind at a hagmeet this weekend.”

  6. Well, when I moved overseas I couldn’t bring a SINGLE cookbook with me. No room 🙁 So I use the internet constantly. So I guess you and Sara are my fall-back cookbook! 🙂
    By the way, this list is AWESOME. I will use it again and again, I am sure. The spice and alcohol substitutions will be a lifesaver. Oh, and I also love the corn syrup substitution!

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