I am creating this document because it is something I wish I had. A comprehensive, though still a work in progress, list of substitutions. Some substitutions can simply be swapped, and some can be made. I would love any additions you may find helpful and hopefully we all can save a trip to the grocery store.
Acid ~ Souring Agents
Amchur/amchoor: See Mango Powder
Anardana: See Pomegranate Seed/Dried
Eno fruit salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice equals 1 teaspoon of Eno fruit salt
- 1 teaspoon amchoor/mango powder to 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- Equal amount of dried pomegranate seeds
- Equal amount of tamarind paste
Mango powder (amchur/amchoor)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice equals 1 teaspoon of Amchur/mango powder
Pomegranate Seeds/Dried (anardana)
- Equal amount of tamarind paste
- Equal amount of mango powder (amchur/amchoor)
- Equal amount of sumac
- Equal amount of lemon juice
- Equal amount of pomegranate molasses
- Equal amount of lemon or lime juice + a bit of sugar
White balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of honey
Asian Sauces and Condiments
If you would like more information of using chilies, see my post Indian Kitchen Fundamentals.
Chili oil, Sichuan
- This is my favorite sichuan chili oil.
Chili Garlic Paste
- The vlog Kravings has a great recipe for Chili garlic paste.
Chinese (Chinkiang) black vinegar
- Use a slightly smaller amount of balsamic or red wine vinegar
- One tablespoon soy sauce with one anchovy fillet finely-minced or mashed. Scale up or down as needed.
Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 1 tablespoon white miso, 1 teaspoon Sriracha, and 1/2 teaspoon molasses or honey
Harissa (North African chili paste)
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Maggie of Omnivore’s Cookbook has an easy homemade hoisin sauce.
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Indonesian sambal olek
- Use Marvellina’s sambal recipe from the blog What to Cook Today.
- And here is the Serious Eats’ version.
- 2 1/2 teaspoon white miso, 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1/8 teaspoon cocoa powder
- Love this hot sauce from Todd & Dianne and this homemade sriracha is very doable.
- Sylvia of Feasting at Home has the perfect Sichuan/Szechuan sauce recipe.
Sweet chili paste
- Another good chili paste recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook
- Using cream of tartar: 1 tablespoon (14 g) baking soda, 2 tablespoons (10 g) cream of tartar, and 1 teaspoon (3 g) cornstarch (optional)
- Using lemon juice: 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice
- Triple the amount of baking powder. Eg. 1 teaspoon of baking soda = 1 tablespoon baking powder
Cake flour (low protein flour that produces light, tender baked goods)
- For one cup of flour: measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons, and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift twice to mix and aerate. Ideally you have a scale and should weigh out 130 grams of this mixture. Alternatively, measure out with a cup measure.
- All-purpose flour: 2 tablespoons of flour for every tablespoon of cornstarch called for
- Rice flour: 2 tablespoons of rice flour for every tablespoon of cornstarch called for
- For more options and how to use them, go to Food52’s deep dive into all things cornstarch.
Cream of tartar
- For every 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, substitute with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
- Rice flour: 2 tablespoons of rice flour for every tablespoon of cornstarch called for
- 1 cup all purpose flour and 11/2 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt
- An equal measure of rum, bourbon, or skip altogether
Butter, Fat, and Oil
- Lindsay of Pinch of Yum has the only peanut butter recipe you’ll ever need.
- Use an equal amount of mashed avocado
- Hummus also makes a good mayo substitute
- Thick yogurt is my favorite replacement though
Shortening and oils
- The great food website Food52 has the perfect shortening overview and suggestions on how to make substitutions.
Chilies, Pepper, and Hot Sauces
See Asian Sauces and Condiments Above
Coconut feni (a liqueur made from toddy)
- Substitute equal amounts of cider vinegar
- To make coconut milk see a well-explained recipe and video from Rose of Nish Kitchen.
Coconut whipped cream
- See below under Whipped Cream
Dried coconut subbed for fresh
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of dried coconut equals 1 tablespoon of fresh coconut. To rehydrate desiccated or flaked coconut, pour warm water to cover the coconut generously and rub the coconut with your fingers for half a minute or so to the hurry the absorption along. Cover the bowl and let sit for an hour. Drain and place on paper towels. Squeeze out the excess moisture and use it as you wish.
Coconut Measurement Equivalents
- 4 ounces shredded, flaked coconut = 1 1/3 cups
- 3 1/2 oz can = 1 1/4 cups
- 7oz pkg = 2 1/2 cups
- 1 tbsp. dried coconut = 1 1/2 tbsp fresh coconut
- 1 cup of fresh, grated, flaked coconut = 80 grams
- 1 cup shredded, desiccated coconut = 95 grams
- Ruchi of Ruchi’s kitchen has a quick and simple recipe for homemade butter.
- Making your own butter will provide you with buttermilk. Barring that, here are several buttermilk options from Jenn of the Foodess blog.
Clotted Cream (Devonshire cream)
- Make your own substitute with 1 part heavy cream and 2 parts mascarpone cheese. Mix well until smooth and it looks like whipped cream at the soft peak stage,
- Or make clotted cream from scratch, using a recipe by Stef Pollack of the Cupcake Project.
- Or use The Pioneer Woman’s cream cheese as described by The Pioneer Woman’s blog.
- Use Jenni Field’s condensed milk recipe from her blog Pastry Chef Online.
- Food52 comes through again with an easy to follow cottage cheese recipe.
- Or silken tofu might be a good fit depending on what you are using cottage cheese for.
- One of my favorite Indian food blogs is Cubes N Juliennes created by Farrukh Azzis Ansari. Here is her recipe for cream cheese starting with full-fat milk.
- For a richer version, this is Melissa Clark’s cream cheese recipe on the Splendid Table’s website.
- And, if you want a vegan cashew-based cream cheese, head over to Nora Cooks and make her easy vegan cream cheese.
- Lastly, from Chef John of the great Food Wishes vlog, here is a recipe for cream cheese starting with yogurt.
- Here is another trick from Chef John. This is his take on making homemade creme fraiche.
See Clotted Cream Above
Dulce de leche
I am offering up two ways to make dulce de leche:
- Alton Brown’s start from scratch dulce de leche
- And an easy shortcut using condensed milk from Serious Eats
Homemade ghee is easy to make.
- My homemade ghee
- Or, a quick cheat: 1/2 butter and 1/2 oil
Half and half
- Take 1 cup of milk and add 1 tablespoon of melted butter
Heavy Cream (Also see Whipped Cream)
If making a sauce, these substitutions will probably work, depending on what you are making:
- Evaporated milk
- Cashew cream
- Coconut milk
- Half and half
- Light cream
- Onion cream, from Food52
- Whole milk
If making a frosting:
- Instead of heavy cream, use yogurt for a tangier, more nuanced frosting. Here is a recipe from Stef Pollack’s Cupcake Project. (If you are into baking, this is a must visit blog!)
Khoya is made from milk that is cooked until thick or dried milk.
- A good substitute is taking ricotta cheese and simmering it over low heat until much of the moisture has evaporated.
- To make khoya from scratch go to Ruchis Kitchen were Ruchi walks you through the steps.
- Malai is made with skin that forms on top of boiled milk. Use clotted cream or cream cheese as a subsitute.
- Mascarpone is another fresh cheese that is easy to make at home. Here is Food52’s 10 minute mascarpone.
- Mishi doi is very similar to yogurt except it is sweetened. It is used to make Bengali desserts. Here is NDTV’s (New Dehli Television) recipe.
- Or try a vegan recipe from Sophie of My Dainty Soul Curry.
- Paneer is easy to make at home, here is my paneer recipe.
- Goat cheese or cottage cheese make reasonably good substitutes for ricotta cheese.
- If you would like to make your own, the food radio show I love, Splendid Table, has a good ricotta cheese recipe on their website.
- Or try the Instant Pot recipe from Food52.
- Use thick yogurt OR make your own. Here is a recipe from one of my favorite Indian food bloggers, Neha of Whisk Affair.
Whipped cream (see Heavy Cream)
- Amul milk is a popular brand of milk made from a mix of cow and buffalo milks that is pastuerized and sold in shelf stable tetra packs. Here is how to make whipped cream using the lower fat Amul cream from the great vlogger Yaman Agarwal of Cooking Shooking.
- Here is a recipe from Gena of The Full Helping for vanilla cashew cream. You can switch up the flavorings and sweetener to your taste.
Coconut whipped cream
Yogurt whipped cream
- Here is a recipe from Sonja and Alex Overhiser of A Couple Cooks, using Greek yogurt.
- Depending on how you are using it, these ingredients may be a fit:
- Sour cream
- Silken tofu
- Cottage cheese (whipped)
- If you would like to make your own, here is a link to my yogurt recipe.
There are good commercial egg replacers on the market, but if you want to make your of substitutions, here are some suggestions:
Egg yolk in baking
- 1 tablespoon of thick yogurt
Whole egg substitutes
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup oil
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup yogurt
- 1 egg = 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds mixed with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water
- 1 egg = 1 tablespoon chia seeds mixed with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed banana
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1 egg = 1/4 silken tofu, stirred until smooth
More egg ideas
Curry leaves (my article)
- Substitute the zest of one lime for each 8 curry leaves called for.
Spices and Flavorings
- One tablespoon sweet paprika and 3/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- Substitute mashed anchovies for anchovy paste, though mashed anchovies will be stronger so be conservative. One mashed anchovy will yield between 1/2 a teaspoon and 1 teaspoon, depending on the size.
- Use an equal amount of onion or garlic powder
- Alternatively, if the recipe you using doesn’t contain garlic or onion, a tablespoon or so of onion or garlic be a good stand in.
- Substitute an equal amount of roasted cumin seeds
- Equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg (or ginger). For example, if 1 teaspoon of cardamom is called for, use 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg (or ginger).
Carom Seeds (Ajwain)
- Equal amount of dried thyme
- Or equal amount of roasted cumin seeds
- Simple substitution: Equal amount of dried mango powder, or lemon juice,
- Or an equal amount of ground cumin and coriander. If you have dried mango powder (amchoor), ground black pepper, asafetida, or ground ginger, add a small pinch of them as well.
- Or an equal amount of sumac
- Or try my Chat Masala recipe
- Allspice (use only 1/4 of the amount called for)
- Or nutmeg (use only 1/2 of the amount called for)
- Use an equal amount of nutmeg
- Depending your recipe, cinnamon or a small amount of allspice might be a good fit.
Coriander ~ Ground and whole
- Ground cumin or a small amount of garam masala
- See Aarthi of Yummy Tummy’s post on making your own coriander powder.
Cubeb pepper/piper cubeba
- 3/4 amount black pepper and 1/4 amount allspice
- Ground coriander or a small amount of garam masala
- Not a great match, but lime zest is a reasonable substitute. The zest of one lime is about 2 teaspoons but you may start with 1 teaspoon and add more to your taste; this will equal 8 curry leaves. Or kaffir lime leaves might work (see my article about curry leaves).
- Garam masala (my garam masala recipe)
- Equal amount of anise seeds
- Equal amount of mustard seeds
- Equal amount of maple syrup at the end of cooking, depending on the dish you are cooking
- Make my garam masala
- Equal amount of curry powder
- One part ground cumin and 1/4 part ground allspice
- If you don’t have the spices to make up garam masala, use equal parts of any of the following: ground black pepper, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground cardamom, and a small amout of ground cloves.
- Use 1/8 teaspoon of dried ground ginger to every tablespoon of fresh ginger Or
- Use 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice for every tablespoon of fresh ginger called for
Ginger, dried, ground
- An equal amount of ground allspice
- Or an equal amount of mace
Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- Depending on what you are cooking, try an equal amount of maple syrup at the end of the cooking might do the trick.
- Otherwise simply omit.
- Use twice the amount of nutmeg than the amount of mace called for
- Or use 1/4 the amount of allspice of the amount of mace called for
- Use 1/2 the amount of mustard seed, ground in a spice grinder
- Or use 1 tablespoon Djion mustard for each teapoon of ground mustard seed
Mustard Seeds (black or brown)
- Use black or brown mustard seeds interchangeably
- Use twice the amount of yellow/white mustard seeds for the amount of black or brown mustard seeds called for
- Or an equal amount nigella seeds (black cumin/kalonji)
Mustard seed paste
- Start with half the Djion mustard to the mustard seed paste called for, and add more as needed.
- Use 1/2 the amount of mace
- Or an equal amount of garam masala
- Use 2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon minced dried cranberries
- Make your own, using my recipe
- Consider simply skipping
- Ginger or cumin, if not used in the recipe, might be a good substitute
White poppy seeds
- If used by grinding into a thickening agent, almond flour or ground almonds are a good substitute
- If whole seeds are called for, use toasted sesame seeds
- Equal amount of soy sauce
- In a cooked dish, use an equal amount of fish sauce
Za’atar (Middle Eastern spice blend)
- Use a mix of 1 1/2 dried thyme, 3/4 teaspoon sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, and 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Go to the website How Stuff works to find out about substituting brown sugar
- Called for in many dessert recipes in the U.K., this grain sized sugar lands between white granulated sugar and powdered or confectioner’s sugar. To make you own, place granulated sugar in a blender or food processor and blend until the sugar has broken down to a slightly smaller size. For more, hop on over to Food52 and read about caster sugar.
Confectioner’s sugar/powdered sugar
- For how to make confectioners sugar from white granulated sugar, see Rajan Singh Jolly’s video.
- For 1 cup of corn syrup use 1 cup of sugar and a 1/4 cup of water
- The best 1 for 1 match for honey is light corn syrup
- Dark corn syrup would also work
- Other substitutes include: maple syrup (real maple syrup, not pancake syrup); brown rice syrup, which is not as sweet could work with 1 1/4 cup to a 1 cup honey called for.
- Agave nectar can be a good 1 for 1 substitute
- Light molasses too can also be a good 1 for 1 substitute
- Substitute 1 for 1 with palm sugar or brown sugar
Maple syrup (1 for 1)
- Honey, molasses, agave nectar, and corn syrup. They all will contribute a different taste however.
- Or, if you don’t mind carmelizing sugar, the Spruce Eats carmelized sugar recipe is a good substitution to use.
- Use honey or maple syrup at a 1 for 1 substitution
- Or 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
- 2 1/2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon honey, and 1/4 teaspoon molasses