22 Common Baking Substitutes

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Nothing is worse than being in the middle of making a recipe and not having an ingredient. Here are handy baking substitutes that will save you when you’re in a pinch!

Important list of baking substitutes that will save your recipe if you run out of an ingredient.
Table of Contents
  1. Watch the video
  2. Baking powder
  3. Baking soda
  4. Egg
  5. Butter
  6. Brown sugar
  7. Powdered sugar
  8. Bread flour
  9. Cake flour
  10. Cornstarch
  11. Buttermilk
  12. Cream of tartar
  13. Evaporated milk
  14. Heavy cream
  15. Half-and-half
  16. Sour cream
  17. Honey
  18. Lemon juice
  19. Dark chocolate
  20. Mascarpone
  21. Bread crumbs
  22. Vanilla
  23. Salt

We’ve all been there, excited to bake the next delicious recipe when you realize you’re missing an ingredient. Whether making a batch of chocolate chip cookies or buttermilk biscuits, these baking substitutions will come in handy! This guide is packed with plenty of substitutes to save money by using the ingredients you already have stoked in your pantry.

Put down those keys; you won’t need to make another trip to the store after all! Helpful shortcuts from making homemade brown sugar, baking powder, and buttermilk. With these handy references, swapping out different types of flour or vanilla is simple. Check out the complete list!

Watch the video

Baking powder

Baking powder contains an acid, baking soda, and a small amount of cornstarch to absorb moisture and keep the mixture shelf-stable. Different acids are used, like cream, tartar, or lemon juice. Use immediately because the carbon dioxide bubbles will form immediately once in contact with the acid.

When substituting: For every 1 teaspoon of baking powder, use ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice or cream of tartar plus ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Bake right away!

Baking soda

Baking soda and baking powder cannot be used interchangeably. Baking soda is four times more potent than baking powder, so it’s not a 1:1 swap. If other acids are added to the recipe, like cream of tartar, you can omit them since it’s already built into the baking powder ingredient.

When substituting: For ¼ teaspoon baking soda, use 1 teaspoon baking powder.

Egg

Eggs provide structure and richness to baked goods. In some instances, like making pancakes, waffles, yeast bread, or cookies, up to 1 to 2 eggs can be replaced. The texture will be denser but can be used for a quick swap. For an easy egg substitute, make a flax egg or use dairy. Avoid using these egg replacements for recipes that use eggs as the base, like ladyfinger cookies or lemon meringue pie.

When substituting: For 1 egg, mix 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water, and sit for 10 minutes before using. Alternatively, combine ¼ cup plain whole milk or low-fat yogurt with ½ teaspoon vegetable oil. Do not replace more than two eggs using these methods.

Butter

Butter is typically composed of 80% butterfat (European butter can go up to 85% butterfat), with the remaining being water, protein, and milk solids. It has a slightly sweet taste, so the replacements will have a different flavor or be very neutral. For a similar texture, use solid fats at room temperature, like margarine, vegetable shortening, or coconut oil. They are higher in fat, nearly 100%, so the baked good may have a greasier taste. You can even try mashed bananas for healthy butter substitutes.

When substituting: Use equal parts of margarine, vegetable shortening, lard, and coconut oil to replace butter. The flavor will be infused into the recipe, so pick based on taste. Lard is great for savory recipes like chicken pot pie.

Brown sugar

Making brown sugar at home is easy! It’s just a combination of granulated white sugar with molasses. The amount of molasses added determines if it’s light brown sugar (also called golden) or dark brown sugar—the more molasses, the stronger the caramel flavor and the darker the color of the sweetener.

When substituting: To make 1 cup of light brown sugar, combine 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of molasses. Add two tablespoons molasses for dark brown sugar. Pulse in a food processor or mix by hand until combined.

Powdered sugar

Powdered sugar is granulated sugar that has been processed until very light and powdery in texture. Cornstarch is added to prevent sticking in the product and from picking up moisture and turning clumping during storage. A blender or food processor works well to make it at home.

When substituting: For 1 cup of powdered sugar, blend 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch until very fine in texture.

Bread flour

Use for making chewy no-knead bread, pizza dough, or even thick cookies. Contains up to 15% protein for a strong gluten network. The best substitute is all-purpose flour which has up to 13% protein.

When substituting: For 1 cup of bread flour, substitute 1 cup of all-purpose flour. The texture won’t be as chewy.

Cake flour

Cake flour yields a very tender cake product due to its lower protein level, between 6 to 8%. Using all-purpose flour and cornstarch can mimic the texture.

When substituting: For 1 cup of cake flour, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to a 1 cup measuring cup, then fill the rest with all-purpose flour, about ⅞ of a cup.

Cornstarch

Cornstarch is a powerful thickening agent. It can be added to cheesecakes for a denser texture, sugar cookies for less spread, or quickbreads to keep the texture moister over time. All-purpose flour is an easy swap.

When substituting: For 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, use 1 ½ tablespoons of all-purpose flour.

Buttermilk

Tangy buttermilk adds flavor and tenderness to baked goods. Different ingredients can mimic used to mimic the taste and texture. Depending on the amount used in the recipe, choose a suitable substitute. Ingredients like milk can be acidified with cream of tartar, lemon juice, or white vinegar to sour the dairy. Greek yogurt, sour cream, or kefir are the most comparable swaps.

When substituting: For every 1 cup of buttermilk, use the below alternatives.

  • Acidified Milk: Combine 1 cup of whole milk plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar, lemon juice, or 1 ¾ teaspoon cream of tarter. Let sit for 10 minutes before using.
  • Plain Yogurt: Dilute up to 2/3 cup yogurt with ⅓ cup milk or water.
  • Plain Greek Yogurt: Combine ½ cup yogurt with ½ cup milk or water.
  • Sour Cream: Combine ½ cup yogurt with ½ cup milk or water.
  • Kefir: Add as a direct substitute for buttermilk.  

Cream of tartar

Cream of tartar is an acidic powder (potassium bitartrate) made from grapes from the winemaking process. It’s used to add a tangy flavor to cookies like snickerdoodles, stabilize egg whites, or help activate baking soda for leavening baked goods. Depending on the application, lemon juice or white vinegar can be used.

When substituting: 

  • Making whipped egg whites: Substituting ¼ teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar per 1 egg white.
  • For Leavening: Use 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar.

Evaporated milk

A shelf-stable dairy product made from fresh milk. The milk is heated until around 60% of the water content evaporates. This concentrates the amount of fat and protein in the product for a richer taste. It’s a convenient and affordable ingredient in your pantry if you run out of milk.

When substituting: To replace evaporated milk, use equal amounts of half-and-half, or combine equal parts of whole milk and heavy cream.

Heavy cream

Heavy cream contains at least 36% milk fat for a super-rich consistency. Make whipped cream or add richness to frostings, icings, cakes, and quick bread.

When substituting: For 1 cup of heavy cream, use 1 cup of evaporated milk. Alternatively, melt ¼ cup unsalted butter and slowly whisk in ¾ cup whole milk or half-and-half. Do not use substitutions to make whipped cream.

Half-and-half

A dairy product made by combining whole milk and cream. It must contain between 10.5% to 18% milk fat. The extra fat adds richness to baked goods without being overly rich and heavy.

When substituting: For 1 cup half-and-half, combine ¾ cup whole milk and ¼ cup cream. Alternatively, use 2/3 cup skim or low-fat milk and ⅓ cup heavy cream. Nondairy creamer can be used as a direct substitute.

Sour cream

Sour cream is a fermented dairy product mixing cream and lactic acid bacteria cultures to thicken and acidify. It contains about 20% milk fat. It can add flavor and tenderness to cakes, brownies, cookies, and quick bread.

When substituting: For 1 cup of sour cream, use 1 cup of plain whole milk yogurt or greek yogurt.

Honey

Honey is a super sweet and thick ingredient made by honey bees. It’s popular in baking because of its flavor, sweetness, and humectant to keep baked goods moist. It’s 25% as sweet as sugar for a more intense taste.

When substituting: For 1 cup of honey, use 1 cup of our maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses (which will have a strong flavor and color), or light or dark corn syrup.

Lemon juice

The citrus adds a sour punch to frosting, icing, cake, cookie, or quick bread. The flavor is strong, so when using a substitute, remember the taste it will add to the finished product.

When substituting: To replace lemon juice, use equal parts lime juice, orange juice, or apple cider vinegar.  

Dark chocolate

There are different types of chocolate to use in baking. Dark chocolate contains at least 35% chocolate liquor, adding a bittersweet cocoa flavor. Grab a bar of unsweetened chocolate and granulated sugar to make your own.

When substituting: For 1 ounce of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, combine 2/3 ounces of melted unsweetened chocolate with 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar.

Mascarpone

A soft Italian cheese made from acidifying cream with citric acid or acetic acid. It contains a high-fat content of between 60 to 75%. It can add richness to cakes and is most famously used to fill tiramisu.

When substituting: For 16 ounces of mascarpone, combine 12 ounces of cream cheese with ¼ cup heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup sour cream or plain yogurt.

Bread crumbs add incredible crunch to any baked dish, like macaroni and cheese. There are various ways to substitute with crackers, oats, and cereal that will add their unique flavor.

When substituting: Substitute bread crumbs with crushed saltine crackers, goldfish crackers, ground rolled oats, rice Krispies, or crushed cornflakes.

Vanilla

Vanilla products add dimension and a sweet aroma to any baked good. They come as extracts, imitation vanilla, pastes, powders, and beans.

When substituting: For 1 vanilla bean, substitute 1 tablespoon of vanilla paste or extract or 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla powder. A ½ a vanilla bean equals 1 teaspoon extract, paste, or ¾ teaspoon vanilla powder.

Salt

The savory taste of sodium in salt enhances the flavor of baked goods. As the levels increase in the recipe, adjusting the amounts added depending on the type of salt used is essential due to the granule size and density.

When substituting: As a general rule, for every 1 teaspoon of table salt, substitute 1½ teaspoons Morton kosher salt or 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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