20 Kitchen Ingredient Substitutions in an Emergency

20 Kitchen Ingredient Substitutions in an Emergency

Show of hands, how many of you have been in the kitchen, ready to make a meal, only to realize you are out of one of your staple foods? I’ve been there. Many times. There are some foods that I always assume we have plenty of in the pantry or refrigerator and am shocked when we are low.

I try to make sure to add these to the grocery list on our Amazon Echo when I notice, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.

Sometimes a recipe calls for a lot more of a staple food than I was planning, which also becomes a problem. I may have a decent amount of flour in the pantry, then try to make something with 3 cups of flour to find out I only have 2 cups. Or I need some chopped onion but the onion has gone bad.

20 Emergency Kitchen Substitutions

No matter which situation you find yourself in, it’s always helpful to have a list of emergency substitutions that you can make while cooking. Changing out recipe ingredients can alter the flavor or texture slightly, but usually, it works well enough.

Other times you may find you like the food better after the substitution is made and change your recipe. This happened with my recipe for Alice Springs Chicken. Originally, I was using honey, but when we were low one night I subbed in maple syrup and we liked the taste so much we changed my recipe.

Download a copy of the Ingredients Substitution list to have handy in the kitchen when you need it:

If you don’t have:Substitute with:
Baking Powder (1 tsp)1/2 tsp cream of tartar plus 1/4 tsp baking soda
Bread Crumbs (1/4 cup)1/4 cup cracker crumbs
Broth, beef or chicken (1 cup)1 tsp of instant beef or chicken bouillon plus 1 cup hot water
Buttermilk (1 cup)1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup & let it stand 5 minutes before using OR 1 cup of plain yogurt
Cornstarch (1 tbsp)2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Corn Syrup (1 cup)1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup water
Egg (1 whole)2 egg white OR 2 egg yolks OR 1/4 cup frozen egg product, thawed
Flour, self-rising (1 cup)1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 tsp of baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp baking soda
Garlic (1 clove)1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic OR 1/8 tsp garlic powder
Half-and-half (1 cup)1 tbsp melted butter or margarine plus enough whole milk to make 1 cup
Herbs, fresh (1 tbsp)1/2-1 tsp dried herb, crushed
Honey (1 cup)1 1/4 cups granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup water OR 1 cup of pure maple syrup
Lemon Juice (1 tsp)1/2 tsp vinegar
Milk, whole (1 cup)1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water OR 1 cup water plus 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
Onion, chopped (1 small)1 tsp onion powder OR 1 tbsp dried minced onion
Pumpkin Pie Spice (1 tsp)1/2 tsp ground cinnamon plus 1/4 tsp ground ginger plus 1/4 tsp ground allspice plus 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Sour Cream (1 cup)1 cup plain yogurt
Sugar, granulated (1 cup)1 cup packed brown sugar OR 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Tomato Juice (1 cup)1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water
Tomato Sauce (2 cups)3/4 cup tomato paste plus 1 cup water

Next time you are working on a recipe, and find you are out of an ingredient, see if there is a substitute you can make. This saves you from having to call a neighbor, run to the store (or send your husband to the store, as I usually do!), or scrap the recipe altogether and call in a pizza. Been there, done that on every one of these.

But, as I mentioned, sometimes it’s fun to make substitutions and find a new way to make a recipe. It may just become your favorite once you tweak one or two little things!

Continue the Conversation

  • What emergency substitutions have you made that have worked?
  • Have you made any substitutions that have failed?
  • What do you do when you are out of an ingredient for a meal?
  • Which one of these substitutions surprises you the most?
20 Kitchen Ingredient Substitutions in an Emergency
20 Kitchen Ingredient Substitutions in an Emergency

13 thoughts on “20 Kitchen Ingredient Substitutions in an Emergency”

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Not only am I a terrible cook, but I also have a knack for NEVER having the appropriate “staple” ingredients in my pantry.

  2. Honestly, I don’t know any substitutions, which is why I’m thankful I found this post. For me, it’s either I go to the grocery and buy the ingredient or never cook the recipe at all haha

  3. I love posts like this as I save them and I inevitably run into a situation where they come in handy and save me a trip to the store. I was most surprised by the baking powder substitution! I had no idea you could use a sub for that.

  4. Sometimes when I cook, I need baking soda or buttermilk or some other herbs but they are not available. So this post will be useful for me, I will save it and buy those ingredients for the kitchen.

  5. This is such a great reference. I can’t tell you how many times I have started baking something and realized I was short an ingredient!!!

  6. I use the substitution for buttermilk and minced garlic all the time. The substitution for half and half is going to be a game changer for me! Thanks for posting.

  7. It’s meals like this ‘ Pan Roasted Winter Vegetable and Quinoa Bowl ’ that not only make your tummy feel happy but also your soul. The other thing that I always believe in is that we ‘Eat with our Eyes First’, so always take that extra second or even minute to plate everything beautifully even if it’s a meal for one. A filled tummy and happy soul leads to a more sound mind and body.

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