Have you ever been right smack dab in the middle of a recipe and realized you don’t have one of the ingredients? I know I have and I’ve often found myself (or my husband) making a mad dash to the store for that one necessary item. Over the years, I’ve searched to find Common Ingredient Substitutions for the ingredients I might not, or usually do not, or already have on hand.Sometimes these items are just expensive for what I’m using them for or they might have and a less expensive equivalent or be easily replaced with something I already have in my pantry. Here are a few substitutions that I turn to more and more often these days over buying higher priced equivalents like heavy cream, half and half or buttermilk. Or perhaps it’s just an item I can never seem to find in my area like Mascarpone Cheese or is a spice I simply don’t stock since I can combine other spices to create the same of similar flavors right at home for a fraction of the price like Pumpkin Pie Spice, Allspice, Apple Pie Spice or Jamaican Curry Powder.
Each of these substitutions has happened to me before, some more than once. Do you have a common substitution you would like to see added? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Heavy Cream – If you need heavy cream for a sauce recipe, you can make your own simply by combining 2/3 cup whole milk with 1/3 cup melted, unsalted, butter. This yields 1 cup of heavy cream. Note: This is not recommended for making whipped cream or ice cream where a more careful balance of chemistry is required but is perfect for soups and sauces.
Half and Half – 7/8 cup whole milk plus 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Buttermilk – Combine 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar with 1 cup milk. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes.
Unsalted Butter – If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter simply use salted butter and decrease the salt required in the recipe by 1/4 tsp.
Salted Butter – 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Cream of Tartar – For recipes involving baking and Baking soda, substitute baking powder since it is made up primarily of baking soda and cream of tartar. For every 1 tsp of baking powder there is the equivalent of 1/4 tsp of baking soda and 3/4… tsp of cream of tartar. In recipes where cream of tartar is working as your acid, you can substitute lemon juice of vinegar in equal parts as was called for cream of tartar in your recipe.
** Be aware that using a substitute for cream of tartar will change your recipe slightly and should be used instead of the described substitutions whenever possible.
Cake Flour – Each 1 cup of cake flour may be substituted with 3/4 cup All-Purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
Ghee – For every 1 tablespoon of ghee you can substitute either 1 tablespoon clarified butter or 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
Mascarpone Cheese – 1 cup Mascarpone Cheese can be substituted with 3/4 cup cream cheese whipped with 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream. Mascarpone is a soft unripened cheese in the cream cheese family. I find this cheese difficult to find as it is produced mainly in the fall and winter. It can sometimes be found in specialty food stores or in the deli section of some grocery stores.
Sweetened Condensed Milk – 1 cup instantnonfat dry milk plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup boiling water and 3 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter. Process this in a blender (affiliate link) or food processor (affiliate link) until smooth.Dark Brown Sugar – Mix 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1/4 cup of molasses. Mix well.
Light Brown Sugar – Add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of molasses to 1 cup of granulated sugar. Mix well.
Allspice – Allspice is a spice all it’s own and comes from the berries of a tree native to Mexico and Central America. The name “Allspice” was given by the English, who thought the flavors combined cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into one unique berry. So for every 1 teaspoon of allspice, we use 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, and a pinch of ground nutmeg.
Apple Pie Spice – For every 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice, use 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, and a dash of either ground cloves or ground ginger.
Pumpkin Pie Spice – Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves and a scant 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and mix well. Once mixed, you may measure 1:1 the amount of pumpkin pie spice your recipe requires.
Jamaican Curry Powder – If you cannot find this type of curry powder, simply make your own by using 6-8 tablespoons Curry Powder and add 1 tablespoon of Allspice to it. Increase the curry spice amount depending how spicy you like your curry.
Egg – Mix 1 tablespoons of ground chia seeds into 2 tablespoons of water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes or until the chia seeds absorb the water creating a gel with the texture of an egg yolk. This mixture will replace 1 egg.
Can I use active dry and instant yeasts interchangeably?
Yes, they can be substituted for one another 1:1. We’ve found that active dry yeast is a little bit slower off the mark than instant, as far as dough rising goes; but in a long (2- to 3-hour) rise, the active dry yeast catches up. If a recipe using instant yeast calls for the dough to “double in size, about 1 hour,” you may want to mentally add 15 to 20 minutes to this time if you’re using active dry yeast.
One time when you might not want to use instant and active dry yeasts interchangeably is when you’re baking bread in a bread machine (affiliate link). Since bread machines use a higher temperature to raise dough, substituting instant for active dry yeast 1:1 may cause bread to over-rise, then collapse. When baking in the bread machine (affiliate link), and substituting instant yeast for active dry, reduce the amount of instant yeast by 25%.
How much is a “packet” of yeast?
You may find older recipes calling for “1 packet active dry yeast.” A packet used to include 1 tablespoon of yeast; currently, it’s closer to 2 generous teaspoons, a tribute to improved manufacturing methods that produce stronger, more active yeast.