Easy Ingredient Substitutions That Any Cook Can Use in a Pinch

Here are easy ingredient substitutions that any cook can use in a pinch with great results (without a mad dash to the grocery store).

handy substitutions
Handy Substitutions for Common Ingredients

If you are mid-recipe and discover you don’t have a needed ingredient, don’t panic!!! See the chart below for some handy ingredients that can be interchangeable with no adverse effects in taste or quality.

Handy Substitutions for Common Ingredients

Ricotta Cheese

  • For 1 cup ricotta cheese use 1 cup cottage cheese.

Chicken Broth

  • For 1 cup of chicken broth use 1 bouillon cube in 1 cup of water.


  • For one cup buttermilk, add 1 TB lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 scant cup* 2% or whole milk.

Evaporated milk

  • For 1 cup of evaporated milk, use 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup half-and-half.

Half and Half

  • For 1 cup half-and-half, use 1 ½ Tbsp melted butter and enough whole milk to equal 1 cup 


  • Use plain Greek yogurt measure for measure.

Tomato Sauce

  • For 1 cup of tomato sauce use ½ cup tomato paste and ½ cup of water

Brown Sugar

  • For every 1 cup of brown sugar, use 1 cup of granulated sugar + 2 TB molasses or maple syrup.

Confectioner’s Sugar

  • For every 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, use the following: Measure 1 cup granulated sugar. Replace 1 teaspoon of regular sugar with 1 teaspoon corn starch. Pulse in a blender until fine like powdered sugar. 


  • Use an equal amount of maple syrup or agave nectar.

Sour Cream

  • Use an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt


  • Use an equal amount of shortening.

Vegetable Oil

  • Use an equal amount of melted butter or olive oil.

Heavy Cream

  • For every 1 cup heavy cream, use 3/4 cup whole milk + 1/4 cup melted butter (cooled not hot).

Self-rising Flour

  • For every 1 cup self-rising flour, use 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1/4 tsp salt.

Cake Flour

  • For 1 cup cake flour, measure out 1 cup all-purpose flour. Remove 2 TB of the flour and replace it with 2 TB of cornstarch. Blend or sift to distribute cornstarch evenly throughout.

Lemon Juice

  • For each teaspoon of lemon juice or zest,  you can substitute lime juice or zest.


  • Use cinnamon in place of allspice measure for measure.

Unsweetened Chocolate

  • For 1 oz (1 square) unsweetened chocolate, use 3 TB unsweetened cocoa + 1 Tbsp melted butter 


*A scant cup is just shy of a cup (usually 1-2 TB less than a full cup).


I hope these substitutions come in handy if you ever get caught without an ingredient!!! As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

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