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Easy Swaps for Common Ingredients

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD - Blogs
By Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RDRegistered dietitianApril 30, 2020

With store shelves a little emptier these days – and your shopping trips fewer and farther between – you may need to do some improvising in the kitchen. Here are some easy swaps for common ingredients you may be missing. Keep in mind that substitutions may change the overall taste and texture of what you’re making – and that not every swap will work with every recipe. For example, white wine can pinch-hit for chicken broth in a sauce, but obviously not a soup! So just use your best judgement.


Buttermilk = 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough regular milk to make 1 cup (let it sit for 5 minutes before using)

Dairy Milk = equal parts evaporated milk and water or equal amount non-dairy milk (use unsweetened non-dairy milks for savory recipes)

Mayo or sour cream = equal amount plain Greek yogurt (preferably full-fat)

Ricotta cheese = equal amount cottage cheese

Grains and Starches

Bread flour = equal amount all-purpose flour

All-purpose flour = self-rising flour (omit baking powder and salt from recipe)

Breadcrumbs = rolled oats, crushed potato chips or crackers, or crushed, low- or no-sugar cereal such as corn flakes

Cornstarch = 2 tablespoons flour for every 1 tablespoon cornstarch


Ground meat = chopped mushrooms for portion of meat in recipes such as taco meat and pasta sauces


Flour = equal amount ground oats for part of the flour called for in recipes like quick breads and muffins

Egg = for each egg in the recipe, ¼ cup applesauce or mashed banana or 3 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (mix and allow to sit 5-10 minutes until thickened)

Oil = applesauce for half the amount

Butter = 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree per 1 tablespoon butter (or oil) or use equal amount coconut oil

Baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder for each ¼ teaspoon soda needed

Baking powder = ¼ teaspoon baking soda + ½ teaspoon cream of tartar for each teaspoon baking powder needed

Brown sugar = equal amount white sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses per cup of white sugar

Honey = equal amount maple syrup, molasses, or agave nectar

Vanilla extract = ½ teaspoon almond extract for 1 teaspoon vanilla

Sauces and Seasonings

Garlic = onion (not an exact match, but will add extra flavor)

Cinnamon = ¼ teaspoon nutmeg or allspice for each 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Tomato paste = equal amount ketchup

Fresh herbs = 1 teaspoon dried herbs for every tablespoon fresh

Chicken broth = equal amount pasta water or white wine for sauces



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About the Author
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD

Sally Kuzemchak is a registered dietitian in Columbus, Ohio. An award-winning reporter and writer, Sally has been published in magazines such as Health, Family Circle, and Eating Well and is a Contributing Editor to Parents magazine. She is the author of the book The 101 Healthiest Foods For Kids. She blogs at Real Mom Nutrition, a "no-judgments" zone all about feeding families.

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