Baking Substitute Guide

We’ve all been there: You’re in the middle of baking a birthday cake or a batch of homemade cookies, and you realize you’re out of a crucial ingredient. Whatever the case may be, the last thing you want to do is make a trip to the grocery store, and you may not be able to leave the house.

Instead of getting discouraged (or deciding to omit the ingredient altogether, which could result in an unfortunate baked good), we’ve put together a comprehensive list of simple baking substitutions for a number of common ingredients, from buttermilk to brown sugar (which, have no fear, you can DIY with white sugar and molasses).

Though we wouldn’t recommend making a habit out of using the substitutions for too many ingredients, some of these swaps may pleasantly surprise you. Always made your signature breakfast granola with honey? You might find you like it even better with maple syrup. Bringing a dessert to the book club this week? Vegans in the group will be thrilled if you use the vegan substitute for eggs.

Ingredient Substitution
1 teaspoon baking powder Combine ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar. Bake immediately.
¼ teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder
Bread crumbs Ground rolled oats or crushed cereal
Bread flour All-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar 1 scant cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses
Butter Coconut oil, margarine, or lard can replace butter
1 cup buttermilk 1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek), or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
1 cup of cake flour Add 2 tablespoons cornstarch to a 1-cup measuring cup; fill rest of the way with all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar ½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg For yeast breads, cookies, pancakes, or waffles, mix 2 tablespoons ground flax meal and 3 tablespoons cold water. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes before adding.
Evaporated milk Half-and-half
½ cup half-and-half ¼ cup milk and ¼ cup cream, or ½ cup non-dairy coffee creamer
1 cup heavy cream Melt ¼ cup unsalted butter and slowly whisk in ¾ cup whole milk or half-and-half
Honey Corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, or agave nectar
Lemon juice Cider vinegar
16 ounces mascarpone Mix 12 ounces of room temperature cream cheese with ¼ cup heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup sour cream
½ cup powdered sugar Grind ½ cup granulated sugar in a blender until fine. Multiply as needed to reach the amount called for in the recipe.
1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate and ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
Sour cream Plain yogurt