Cooking & Baking Substitutions + Food Tips

Have you ever started to make a recipe only to find that you're missing or ran out of an ingredient? I know I have, so today I’m sharing some of the most common and helpful baking substitutions. Please note that while these substitutions will work most of the time, it’s possible that using any of these could result in slightly altered taste/texture of your baked goods.

How to make Self Rising Flour:

Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount of flour into a separate container.
For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine.

Learn how to make Homemade Butter using a stand mixer. 

Flour Tips:
You can use self-rising flour in yeast bread recipes, but you'll need to omit the salt.

If you use self-rising flour as a substitute for all-purpose flour in a quick bread, omit salt and baking powder.

Make your own Cake Flour:
Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour in a bowl. Whisk gently to sift the mixture together. Proceed with the recipe as instructed. (Katie Good life eats)

Homemade Baking Mix (Bisquick)
6 - cups All-purpose Flour
3 - tablespoons Baking Powder
1 - tablespoon Baking Soda
3 - tablespoons Sugar
1 - tablespoon Salt
1 - cup Shortening

Sift all your dry ingredients into a mixer bowl. Add shortening and mix with a whisk attachment or hand mixer until thoroughly incorporated. It should be a very fine meal with no lumps. Store in a large plastic container with a tight fitting lid.

Make Your Own Baking Powder: (For Better Biscuits)
1/4 cup cream of tarter + 2 tablespoons baking soda
Sift all of the ingredients together 3 times, and transfer to a clean, tight-sealing jar.
Store at room temperature, away from sunlight, for up to 6 weeks.
Use the same amount of this recipe in place of store bought baking powder.

Is your Baking Powder and Baking Soda still fresh?
To test baking powders effectiveness: mix 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder with 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water and the mixture should bubble immediately. Store in a cool dry place and it should be replaced every 6-12 months.

To test baking soda's effectiveness: mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the mixture should bubble immediately.

Make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice:
To make 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, mix together:

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

How to make Buttermilk:
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to make 1 cup.
Let mixture stand for 5 minutes before using.

How to Freeze Buttermilk & Bananas: 
Click here for a step by step photo tutorial.

DIY Bread Crumbs:

Cracker Crumbs, Matzo meal, Ground oats or Panko Bread Crumbs

Sour Cream: 
Use plain yogurt or Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.

Heavy Cream Substitute:
1 Cup Evaporated milk OR 3/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup butter = 1 Cup Heavy Cream

Heavy Cream Tip:
To get maximum volume when whipping heavy cream, first place mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Substitute for Plain Yogurt:
1 cup sour cream or buttermilk = 1 Cup Plain Yogurt.

Substitute for Whole Milk:
1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water = 1 Cup Whole Milk

Unsweetened Chocolate:
Chocolate Squares Substitute: 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa & 1/4 cup melted Crisco (Substitution for 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate squares).

Confectioners' or Powdered Sugar:
1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon cornstarch; Process in a blender until powdery.

Don't have pumpkin pie spice?
Substitute 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon,1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

Lemon Juice: 
1 teaspoon lemon juice = 1/2 teaspoon vinegar

Substitute for Oil:
oil - equal measurements of melted solid shortening, melted margarine, unsweetened applesauce or coconut oil

Shortening, Vegetable Oil, Coconut Oil or Butter

Chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit settling to the bottom of your pan during baking?
If you have ever encountered this problem it was probably because your batter was not thick enough to suspend the ingredients during baking. For thin batters, chop the nuts or dried fruit very finely before adding them to the batter. Also, tossing these ingredients in a little flour will absorb any oils or water from the nuts or dried fruit and may help to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan during baking.

Baking Muffins:
When baking muffins always fill any unused muffin cups with a little water to prevent the muffin pan from warping during baking. For easy cleanup, line muffin cups with paper or foil muffin liners. An easy way to place the muffin batter into the muffin cups is to use an ice cream scoop.

Make your own Brown Sugar:
1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup white sugar plus 2 Tbsp. molasses

How to Soften Brown Sugar:
Brown Sugar should be stored in a thick plastic bag in a cool, dry place. Sometimes, though, brown sugar does become hard. If this happens you can soften it by Placing a slice of apple in the plastic bag with the brown sugar. Seal and leave for a couple of days until the brown sugar softens. Remove the apple. or Place about one cup of hard brown sugar in a microwave proof dish, cover, and microwave for 30 seconds to one minute, or until softened.

Difference between dark and light brown sugar:
Both types of brown sugar are a mixture of granulated sugars and molasses, with dark brown sugar containing more molasses than light brown sugar. Light brown sugar has a delicate flavor while dark brown sugar has a stronger more intense molasses flavor. They can be used interchangeably depending on your personal preference.

Substitute for Vanilla Bean:
One 2- to 3-inch piece of vanilla bean = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Substitute Honey, Dark Corn Syrup, Maple Syrup

I have included a link for a some substitutions for Healthy Baking. Healthy Baking Substitutions.

Here is a link on How to Bake with Sugar Substitutes. This would be helpful when you want to use sugar substitutes.

Cutting Measurements in Half:
If the recipe calls for one cup of a liquid or dry ingredient, reduce the amount to a half cup. (Be sure you’re using liquid and dry measuring cups for the appropriate ingredients.)

1 cup (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup (1/4 cup + 2 Tbl.)
2/3 cup (1/3 cup)
1/2 cup (1/4 cup)
1/3 cup (2 Tbl. + 2 tsp.)
1/4 cup (2 Tbl.)
3 Tbl. (1 Tbl. + 1 1/2 tsp.)
2 Tbl. (1 Tbl.)
1 Tbl. (1 1/2 tsp.)

Food Tips and Tricks

I thought I would pass along this article from a email newsletter I received. There were a few thing I didn't know. The editors at Good Housekeeping put their heads together and came up with this list of cooking-related tips and tricks for home chefs like you and I. The easy-to-follow suggestions give you the edge on everything from cooking the best burgers to choosing the right produce.

Barbecue Sauce Without the Burn:
If you’re using a sweet barbecue sauce, apply it during the last five minutes of grilling. If you apply it any sooner, the sugar in the sauce will burn.

Juicy Burgers Every Tim:
When cooking burgers, don’t flatten the patties with a spatula. Pressing squeezes out the flavorful juices.

Try a Fresh Herb Marinade:
If you have an abundance of garden herbs, try making a fragrant herb brush, which can be used for brushing oil or melted margarine or butter over grilled or broiled fish, meat, or poultry, garlic bread, or focaccia, as well as corn on the cob.

Dab vinaigrette over salads and steamed vegetables. Choose herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme for your herb brush. Tie a small bouquet of herb sprigs together at the stem end with a piece of string or another sprig. Dip in olive oil or melted margarine or butter and brush over grilled corn on the cob or other food.

Smart Storage for Ground BeefL
If you don’t plan on using ground beef right away, refrigerate in its supermarket wrapping up to 2 days. For longer storage, re wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

How to Carve Ham Like a Pro: To carve a whole bone-in ham: Place the ham on a cutting board. Using a carving fork to steady the ham, cut a few slices from the thin side to form a level base. Turn the ham onto its cut surface. Starting at the shank (narrow) end, slice down to the bone and cut out a small wedge of meat. Continue slicing, perpendicular to the bone, cutting thin slices until you reach the bone at the other end. Then, cut the meat along the leg bone to release the slices. For more servings, return the ham to its original position and cut slices to the bone.

How to soften butter quickly for a recipe:
Using a grater, grate the butter into the bowl and then add to your recipe.

To Salt or Not to Salt:
Meat should be salted before it is cooked. Contrary to popular belief, salting meat right before cooking does not dry it out or cause it to lose juices. Pre-salting brings out the taste of the meat and rounds out the savory flavors associated with properly browned meat.

The Secret to Tasty Meatloaf:
What’s the secret to a tender and tasty meatloaf? Always use ground chuck.

Bring on the Tenderness with Brine:
Lean cuts of pork can be made juicy by soaking them in brine, which can be made as easily as mixing water and salt, but other flavorings may be added, such as sweeteners, pepper, mustard, lemon, garlic, etc. Pork loin should be refrigerated in the brine for two days, whereas pork tenderloin needs only six to eight hours. Remove the meat and proceed with recipe.

Defrost Raw Chicken Safely:
To defrost a chicken by thawing it in cold water, place the bird (in its original wrapper) in a large pan or in the sink with enough cold water to cover. Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain temperature. Allow about 30 minutes of thawing time per pound, and then add one hour to that total.

Check if chicken is fully cooked:
Chicken is done when the thigh temperature reaches 175 degrees F to 180 degrees F and juices run clear when the thickest part of thigh is pierced with the tip of a knife.

How to Skin a Chicken Breast:
To remove the skin from a chicken breast, grasp the skin at the thickest end of the breast and pull it away from the meat.

Save the Wings for Quick Chicken Stock:
When you prepare poultry, cut off the wing tips. Place them in a heavy-duty ziplock bag and freeze, adding more wing tips as you get them. These can be used to make a quick chicken stock in a pinch.

The Right Tool to Flip a Fish:
To turn fish fillets such as salmon so they don’t fall apart, use a wide spatula, supporting the fillet with your fingers as you turn it.

Butterflied Shrimp the Easy Way:
To butterfly a shrimp, shell it, leaving the tail segment in place. With kitchen shears, cut along the outer curve of the shrimp, about 3/4 of the way through the flesh. Spread the flesh open and remove the dark vein with the tip of the knife. Rinse the butterflied shrimp under cold water.

Proper Prep for Raw Shrimp:
To de vein shrimp, use kitchen shears and cut along the outer curve of the shell, just deep enough into the flesh to expose the dark vein. Peel back the shell from the cut and gently separate the shell from the shrimp. Discard the shell. Remove the vein with the tip of a small knife. Rinse the shrimp under cold water.

Keep Raw Fish in the Fridge Overnight:
Try to cook fish on the day you buy it, but if you have to keep it even overnight, place it in a large strainer set over a bowl, pile ice on top of the fish, and refrigerate. The melting ice will rinse away any bacteria and keep the fish in better condition.

Is Your Baking Powder Bad?
Once opened, baking powder will keep for up to six months if well sealed. To test its effectiveness, add 1/2 teaspoon to 1/2 cup warm water; it should bubble vigorously.

Oven Etiquette for Perfect Cakes:
To ensure that cake layers rise evenly, give the pans a half turn about halfway through the baking time. And don’t leave the oven door open any longer than necessary, or the oven temperature will drop.

The Best Way to Cool Cookies:
Unless a recipe otherwise directs, cool cookies briefly on the cookie sheet to firm slightly, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

A Cocoa by Another Name:
There is a difference between natural and Dutch-process cocoas. Both, though, have rich chocolate flavor and contain only 8 to 24 percent fat. As a rule, don’t swap cocoas; use what is recommended in the recipe.

Proper Chocolate-Melting Procedures:
You can melt chocolate in a heavy saucepan or double boiler on the stove top. The pan must be dry, as moisture will make the chocolate grainy. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. To microwave chocolate, place 1 to 4 ounces chocolate in a microwave-safe container; cook on Medium (50 percent power) for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Chocolate melted in the microwave retains its shape, so it won’t look melted until it’s stirred.

Make Whipped Cream from Scratch:
Heavy or whipping cream will double in volume when whipped, so use a bowl that is large enough. Soft peaks, when the cream forms gentle folds, are best for folding into other mixtures to add volume. Stiff peaks, when the cream keeps its shape, can be used to top cream pies, frost cakes, or stack layers of pastry.

Rolling Out Chilled Dough:
When rolling out chilled dough, roll out one portion at a time. Keep the remaining dough covered in the refrigerator.

Perfectly Beaten Egg Whites:
When beating egg whites, be sure they are room temperature. The bowl in which you beat them should be perfectly dry and free from grease or any traces of yolk. Either over- or underbeating will cause loss of volume.

Easy Apple Peeling:
The easiest way to peel an apple is to first remove a circle of peel from the bottom and the top with a small knife or vegetable peeler. Then, peel the entire apple going from top to bottom.

Easy Avocado Seeding:
Seeding an avocado doesn’t need to be a slippery business. For neat results, with a sharp knife, cut the avocado lengthwise around the seed; twist gently to separate the halves. 2. Strike the seed with the blade of a chef’s knife, so the blade lodges in the seed; twist gently and lift out the seed.

Droopy Celery:
When your celery is starting to look a bit droopy, simply cut offthe root end, and stand all of the stalks together in a large glassor mug of water, and store in the fridge. After about a day, you'll be shocked! Your celery will have absorbed some of the water andwill be delicious and crunchy again. Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator andit will keep for weeks.

Effective Citrus Juicing:

For best results when juicing lemons, limes, or oranges, use room-temperature fruit and roll the fruit under the palm of your hand, which loosens inner membranes, helping to release as much juice as possible.

Proper Fresh Herb Storage:
To store fresh herbs, immerse the roots or stems in 2 inches of water. Cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate.

Chop Onions Like a Top Chef:
Chopping an onion: 1. Halve the onion through the root end; place it on a cutting board. Make horizontal cuts parallel to the board, cutting to, but not through, the root. 2. Make lengthwise vertical cuts, almost but not quite through the root. 3. Now cut across the width of the onion to chop into small pieces.

Can't Find Asian Fish Sauce?
Instead of using Asian fish sauce, use 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon anchovy paste. Makes 1 tablespoon.

Checking Eggs for Freshness:
To check an egg for freshness, place it in a glass of water. A fresh egg will sink to the bottom, a slightly older egg will stand upright, and an old egg will float.

Toast Nuts for Richer Flavor:
Toasting nuts brings out their flavor, and, in the case of some nuts, allows their skins to be removed. To toast almonds, pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread shelled nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let the nuts cool completely before chopping.

Don't Toss the Pasta Water:
Save a little of the cooking water when preparing pasta. Just before draining it, scoop some water into a large cup. Then, when you toss the pasta and sauce together, you can use the water to thin the sauce if it’s too dry without adding extra fat or additional ingredients.

Soy Sauce vs. Tamari Sauce:
If you’re on a wheat-free diet, use authentic Tamari sauce instead of soy sauce, since soy is made with wheat (and soybeans). Tamari is made from soybeans alone.

Source: Joy of Baking & Google


Unknown said…
applesauce is a good sub for oil... and i saw on barefoot contessa adding the choc chips after mixing, helps avoid the bottom chocolate thing too.
Gwen said…
Tina, this is wonderful! Thanks!!
Anonymous said…
I would like to know if you have a book out with
all the recipes and the substitutions I really
like this please let me know . thank you

Sandy Mcgarrah
e mail is
Anonymous said…
I haven't tried one as of yet I am still going through all the things and recipes but I plan to make one of the recipes real soon. I just love your site, Thank You so much for such an enjoyable site. Sandy Mcgarrah
Anonymous said…
Wondering if you have a recipe for homemade bisquick? I hate spending $$$ on stuff like laundry soap & bisquick! I can't wait to make & try the laundry soap recipe...I stumbled on your site looking for a recipe for cream peas. I will be making that today...Thanks! Love your site!
Unknown said…
What a great post! Thanks for taking the time to write it.
Tina Butler said…
The recipe for homemade biscuit baking mix aka Bisquick is listed above.