10 No Fail Recipe Substitutions

There’s nothing more frustrating than when you are right in the middle of a recipe and realize that you are missing an ingredient. Naturally, this always seems to happen when you don’t have time to stop and run to the store because you have company coming over in the next five minutes or the kids are napping so doing so is simply not possible.  So what do you do in this kind of situation?  Reach for a substitution for that ingredient.  Here are 10 basic substitutions.

  1. Apple sauce for oil.  To lighten up a baked goods recipe, substitute 1 cup of applesauce for 1 cup of vegetable oil. The end product ends up very moist and you cannot detect the apple flavor.
  2. Sour milk for buttermilk.  Many times people don’t have buttermilk in the house when a recipe calls for it.  Instead of running to the store to buy buttermilk, try using 1 cup of sour milk in its place. You can make sour milk easily by mixing 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar with enough regular milk to make 1 cup.
  3. All-purpose flour and baking soda for self-rising flour.  Self-rising flour isn’t something that most people keep on hand, but if you find a recipe that calls for it you can substitute all-purpose flour mixed with baking soda.  For 1 cup of self-rising flour you will need to substitute 7/8 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder, and ½ teaspoon of salt.
  4. Milk plus butter for half and half.  Half and half is a rich cream and shows up in both sweet and savory dishes.  If you don’t have any half and half on hand you can substitute 7/8 cup of whole milk and 1 tablespoon of butter for 1 cup of half and half.
  5. Baking soda and cream of tartar for baking powder.  If you’ve run out of baking powder and you are wondering if you can just substitute straight baking soda the answer is no.  However, you can substitute cream of tartar mixed with baking soda for baking powder.  For 1 teaspoon of baking powder substitute ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar.
  6. Plain yogurt in place of mayonnaise.  Another way to lighten up a dish is to substitute plain yogurt for mayonnaise.  The substitution is 1 for 1, 1 cup of plain yogurt for 1 cup of full fat mayonnaise.  You will lose a bit of the mayonnaise flavor, but the dish will be a lot healthier.  You can also substitute 1 cup of sour cream if you don’t have yogurt.
  7. Sour cream for yogurt.  Plain yogurt has a tangy flavor and shows up in a lot of lower calorie recipes, but what if you don’t have any yogurt and you still want to make the dish?  You can substitute sour cream in a 1:1 ratio for the yogurt.  The tangy flavor will be the same, but the fat content of the recipe will increase.  The recipe will also taste a lot richer with the sour cream over the yogurt.
  8. Cocoa and shortening for unsweetened chocolate.  If you come across a recipe that calls for unsweetened chocolate, but you don’t have any in the house, there is a solution.  For each ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate called for in the recipe you can substitute 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon of shortening for vegetable oil.  Problem solved.
  9. Lemon juice for cream of tartar.  Not a lot of recipes call for cream of tartar, but when they do you really need it.  Many times cream of tartar is used to stabilize egg whites when you are beating them.  If you don’t have any cream of tartar you can substitute 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar for every teaspoon of cream of tartar that you need in the recipe.
  10. Mayonnaise for an egg.  Eggs are binders in recipes as a rule, so if you don’t have any eggs and you are looking for a substitution you can use mayonnaise.  For 1 egg you can substitute 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise or half a banana with ½ teaspoon of baking powder.

The next time that you are cooking or baking and find that you have run out of something, don’t fret, just make a substitution.  Doing so is a lot easier than running to the store.

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