Basic Cooking Substitutions for Emergency Use

cooking ingredients substitutions

This is a list of useful cooking substitutions published by the University of Nebraska.  This list could be very helpful if you were having to live off your food storage. It gives you some options on various products you can use as cooking substitutions if you have run out of something. This list is so long that we will post it as two parts.

Even if you have items in storage over the years they will run out and you will have to learn cooking substitutions.  Some of these substitutions can be used on a regular basis to save you money.

  • 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
Amount: 1 cup
– 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.
  • 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
    – 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
    – 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

The second half of the cooking substitutions will be posted tomorrow.


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