Ingredient Substitutions

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Alice Henneman, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Lancaster County

Often for lack of an ingredient, a recipe is ruined or an extra trip to the store is required. Sometimes, you need to buy a large container of an ingredient for just a teaspoon or two needed in a recipe.

To the rescue: Ingredient substitutions! Several Internet discussion groups of dietitians, home economists, chefs and other food professionals were asked their most helpful ingredient substitutions, favorite Internet links and other food substitution resources they find useful. The response was tremendous! Read, enjoy and benefit from their suggestions.

Basic Ingredient Substitutions

Here are some of the suggestions cited most frequently. The substitution tips for which there was the most general consensus and which used the most common ingredients are listed. Following these suggestions are several Internet and book resources that give MANY, MANY additional substitution ideas.

Your final product made with the substituted ingredient may differ slightly from the original food, but still be acceptable in flavor, texture and appearance.

Basic Ingredient Substitutions

Allspice
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Apple Pie Spice
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg plus 1/8 teaspoon cardamom

Baking Powder, Double-Acting
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Baking Soda
There is NO substitute for baking soda

Butter
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute:
- 1 cup regular margarine
- 1 cup vegetable shortening (for baking)
- An equal amount of oil can be substituted for a similar portion of MELTED butter if the recipe specifies using MELTED butter.

TIP 1: According to the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers, you can tell "if the product is regular margarine by checking the Nutrition Facts: a one tablespoon serving will have 100 calories." Products that contain less than 80 percent fat often give the fat percentage on the front of the package.

If the margarine is labeled "light," "lower fat," "reduced fat," "reduced calorie/diet" or "fat-free" or is called a "vegetable oil spread," you may be less successful substituting it for butter OR for regular margarine in baking and in some cooking procedures. These products are higher in water and lower in fat content and won't perform in the same way as regular butter or margarine.

For additional information about using the various forms of margarine in recipes, check the Web site of the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers: www.margarine.org/howtousemargarine.html

TIP 2: There is no standard procedure to substitute liquid oil for solid shortening in cooking. Oil is 100 percent fat, while butter, margarine and other solid shortenings are lower in fat on a volume-for-volume basis.

Also, for some recipes, solid shortening helps incorporate air into the batter when it is whipped with other ingredients such as sugar and eggs. If you try to whip these ingredients with oil, your baked product is likely to be more compact and oily in texture. Your most successful substitution occurs if your recipe calls for MELTED butter, in which case you can usually substitute an equal amount of oil.

Buttermilk
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough regular milk to make 1 cup (allow to stand 5 minutes)

Chili Sauce
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, dash of ground cloves and dash of allspice

Chocolate, Unsweetened
Amount: 1 ounce
Substitute: 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter or regular margarine or vegetable oil

Cornstarch (for thickening)
Amount: 1 tablespoon
Substitute: 2 tablespoons flour
TIP: Liquids thickened with cornstarch will be somewhat translucent while flour gives a more opaque appearance. Cornstarch will thicken a liquid almost immediately. A flour-based sauce or gravy must be cooked longer to thicken and will have a floury taste if undercooked. Joy of Cooking cookbook (Scribner, 1997) advises when using flour as a substitution for cornstarch in sauces and gravies, that you simmer it for about 3 minutes AFTER it has thickened to help avoid a raw taste of flour.

 Cornstarch-thickened liquids are more likely to thin if overheated or cooked too long. Regardless of whether you use cornstarch or flour, mix it with a little cold water or other cold liquid, about two parts liquid to one part thickener, before adding it to the rest of the liquid . (Note: when you mix flour with fat to make a roux for use as a thickener, you would not dissolve it in liquid first.)

Cream, Whipping
Amount: 1 cup unwhipped
Substitute: If you wish to use a commercial pre-whipped whipped cream or whipped cream substitute rather than whip your own cream, use the guideline that 1 cup UNWHIPPED whipping cream expands to 2 cups when WHIPPED. For example, if your recipe called for 1 cup of cream to make whipped cream, you could substitute 2 cups of an already whipped product.

Egg
Amount: 1 whole egg
Substitute:
- 1/4 cup egg substitute (examples include: Egg Beaters, Second Nature, Scramblers); check label for specific directions
- Reconstituted powdered eggs; follow package directions
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (suitable for use in cake batter). NOTE: If you type "mayonnaise cake recipe" into your favorite Internet search engine, you'll find several recipes for cakes made with mayonnaise and NO eggs. This may help you decide if this substitution will work for your cake. - 1/2 teaspoon baking powder plus 1 tablespoon vinegar plus 1 tablespoon liquid (for baking use only)

 

TIP: If you don't use eggs very often, you may find it helpful to keep some powdered eggs on hand.

Flour, All-Purpose White Flour
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
TIP: It's generally recommended that you replace no more than half the all-purpose white flour with whole wheat flour. Too much whole wheat flour in a recipe calling for all-purpose flour might result in a reduced volume and a heavier product.

Flour, Cake
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Flour, Self-Rising
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup minus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt

Garlic
Amount: 1 small clove
Substitute: 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Herbs, Fresh
Amount: 1 tablespoon, finely cut
Substitute:
- 1 teaspoon dried leaf herbs
- 1/2 teaspoon ground dried herbs

Lemon Zest (fresh grated lemon peel)
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Marshmallows, Miniature
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 10 large marshmallows

Mayonnaise (for use in salads and salad dressings)
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute:
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 cup cottage cheese pureed in a blender
- Or use any of the above for part of the mayonnaise

Mustard, Dry (in cooked mixtures)
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1 tablespoon prepared mustard

Onion
Amount: 1 small or 1/4 cup chopped, fresh onion
Substitute: 1 tablespoon instant minced onion
TIP: Dried onion may be added directly to moist foods such as soups, gravies, sauces and salad dressings. You may need to rehydrate it with a little water before adding it to drier foods. Check package directions -- one brand advises adding an equal amount of water and letting the dried onion stand 5 to 10 minutes.

Pasta (substituting one for another)
Amount: 4 cups COOKED
Substitute: The National Pasta Association suggests these substitution ratios.
Check www.ilovepasta.org/faqs.html#Q10 for more information.

- 8 ounces of UNCOOKED elbow macaroni, medium shells, rotini, twists, spirals, wagon wheels, bow ties, mostaccioli, penne, radiatore, rigatoni, spaghetti, angel hair, linguine, vermicelli and fettuccine all produce about 4 cups COOKED pasta

- Use about twice as much UNCOOKED egg noodles to provide 4 cups COOKED pasta. Approximately 8 ounces UNCOOKED egg noodles equal 2 1/2 cups COOKED noodles.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 ground teaspoon ginger plus 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice plus 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Rice
Amount: Any amount
Substitute: Most rice products will substitute for each other on a fairly equal basis in recipes; however, their cooking times and the amount of liquid needed may vary. If possible, choose a rice with a comparable grain length for the closest match. Visit the USA Rice Federation's Website to learn more about cooking with the different forms of rice.

Rum
Amount: any amount
Substitute: 1 part rum extract plus 3 parts water. For example: for 1/4 cup rum, substitute 1 tablespoon rum extract plus 3 tablespoons water.

Sugar, Confectioners' or Powdered
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch; process in a food processor using the metal blade attachment until it's well blended and powdery.

Tomato Juice
Amount: 1 cup
Substitute: 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water

Tomato Soup
Amount: 10 3/4 ounce can
Substitute: 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup water

Wine, Red
Amount: Any
Substitute: The same amount of grape juice or cranberry juice

Wine, White
Amount: Any
Substitute: The same amount of apple juice or white grape juice

Yeast, Compressed
Amount: 1 cake (3/5 ounce)
Substitute:
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- Scant 2 1/2 teaspoons loose active dry yeast

The next time you're missing an ingredient for a recipe, here's a final tip on how to:
S-U-B-S-T-I-T-U-T-E:

S eek out this article
U se a similar ingredient
B e experimental
S earch the Internet
T ry another recipe
I nvestigate your cookbooks
T ry calling your neighbor
U se this as a learning experience
T ake time to go to the store
E at out!

Helpful links

For MORE ingredient substitution ideas, check these Internet links to materials developed by educational organizations or recommended by various food and nutrition educators.

For STILL MORE substitution ideas, put the words "food substitutions" or "ingredient substitutions" into your favorite Internet search engine.

As you check out these links, be aware that an ingredient may not substitute for ALL the functions of another. For example, as you learned earlier, it's best to substitute an oil for a solid shortening such as butter ONLY when the recipe calls for a MELTED form of the solid shortening. If you're uncertain if the substitution will work and you haven't started mixing things together, you might consider making something else. Or making a quick run to the store.

(NOTE: The following links are provided for your general information. The information provided via these sites has not been formally evaluated and inclusion of these links does not constitute an endorsement of any organization. Nor is disapproval implied of sites not mentioned. The links provided are maintained by their respective organizations and they are solely responsible for their content and policies.)

Ingredient Substitutions
www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/yf/foods/he198w.htm

This listing by North Dakota State University Extension is very comprehensive on everything from Allspice to Yogurt.

Herbs and Spices

http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/348/348-907/348-907.pdf

Virginia Cooperative Extension's site is especially helpful in giving suggestions on reducing the fat, sodium and sugar in foods and instead using herbs and spices for flavor.

Ingredient Substitutions
http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FN_255.pdf

Utah State University Cooperative Extension has a chart providing basic ingredient substitutions. It also provides an equivalent measures section at the end.

Preparing Healthy Food: How To Modify a Recipe
www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~ohioline/hyg-fact/5000/5543.html

Ohio State University Extension's Fact Sheet explains how to substitute ingredients to make recipes more nutritious or lower in fat.

Food and Nutrition Solutions
http://www.solutions.uiuc.edu/directory.cfm?series=3&cat=63&Parents=0|3|27

University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service gives basic ingredient substitutions.

Ingredient Substitutions
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09329.pdf

Colorado State University Cooperative Extension has a table providing basic ingredient substitutions.

The Cook's Thesaurus
www.foodsubs.com

This site offers thousands of substitution suggestions.

Food Lover's Companion

www.epicurious.com/cooking/how_to/food_dictionary

If you've never heard of one of the ingredients in a recipe and have no idea of what you could substitute, this online food dictionary of more than 4,000 items from Epicurious may help you out.

Home Baking
www.homebaking.org

Visit this site to access links to food companies and organizations, an ingredient glossary and an "Ask the Experts" (under "Educator Resources").

Ingredient Substitution Books

You'll also may find information on substituting foods in a section or sections of a cookbook where the major ingredients featured in the recipes are described.


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