When you run out of an ingredient

Common Culprits

1.  You’ve run out of baking powder:  People tend to always have baking soda in the house because we use it for more than just cooking.  If you run out of baking powder you can make your own.  For each teaspoon of baking powder you need, simply add to your recipe 1/4 tsp of baking soda plus any ONE of the following: 1/2 tsp cream of tartar OR 1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt OR 1/4 cup molasses.  I usually determine which ingredient I’ll use by what I have in the house and which might taste better in the recipe.

2.  The recipe calls for buttermilk which you don’t buy:  Whenever a recipe calls for buttermilk, you can make your own.  Simply add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of your type of milk (cow, soy, rice, etc…) and let it sit for five minutes.  It’ll thicken up, and you can simply stir and use whatever amount you need for your recipe.  You can also mix 3/4 cup of yogurt with 1/4 cup of milk or 3/4 cup sour cream with 1/4 cup milk.  Again you can choose simply by what you have in stock or by which you’d think would taste best in your recipe.

3.  You’re baking, and you’re completely out of eggs:  No worries.  1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water is equivalent to one egg.  If you don’t have ground flaxseed on hand, 1/4 cup of a pureed fruit or vegetable like applesauce or pumpkin will substitute as an egg binder.  If the egg is acting as a leavener in your recipe (like for a cake), you can replace the egg by adding an extra 1 tsp of baking soda to your dry ingredients and mixing in 1 tablespoon of vinegar as the last ingredient to the batter.

4.  The recipe wants you to use milk but you’re out:  If it’s a baking recipe like a cake or cookies, you can always use another liquid like fruit juice or even water.  If you’re making something like a soup that uses milk simply as a liquid, you can substitute a vegetable or chicken broth or water seasoned with herbs.  If you’re making a dish that uses milk to make it creamy and thick, you can substitute cooked pureed vegetables in an equal amount.  If you’re baking something that needs the milk to give it density and thickness, substitute yogurt or sour cream, but reduce your fat (butter, oil, etc…) by about 1/4 cup.

5.  You need sour cream but you never buy it:  You can substitute yogurt which you’re more likely to have but for every cup of sour cream you’ll use 1 cup of yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon of flour.  You can also substitute using 3/4 cup of a homemade buttermilk and adding about 1/3 cup of a solid fat (butter) to your recipe.

6.  You’re completely out of yogurt:  Substitute one cup of sour cream or homemade buttermilk or pureed cottage cheese for every cup of yogurt needed.

7.  You don’t buy cottage cheese or ricotta cheese for dietary/allergy reasons: Simply substitute pureed tofu in equal amounts.

8.  The recipe wants you to use molasses or honey instead of sugar which is all you have or vice versa:  1 cup of molasses is equal to 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of honey is equal to 1 1/4 cup of sugar.  What’s important to remember is that molasses and honey are wet ingredients verses the dry ingredient sugar.  So, if you’re adding molasses or honey instead of sugar, reduce another liquid ingredient by at least a 1/4 cup. If you’re substituting sugar, make sure to increase the liquid by at least a 1/4 cup.  For all three you can always substitute half the amount of Agave remembering to reduce the liquid by 1/2 a cup if you’re using the Agave for the dry sugar.  You can also use 1/2 the amount of Truvia for sugar.  If you substitute Truvia for the molasses or honey, be sure to increase your liquids to adapt for the loss in wet ingredients.

9.  Your recipe calls for tomato sauce and you only have tomato paste:  3/4 cup of tomato paste mixed with 1 cup of water will give you about 2 cups of a tomato “sauce”.  FYI:  If you only have tomato sauce and need tomato “juice” in your recipe, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce mixed with 1/2 cup of water is equivalent to 1 cup of tomato juice.

10.  Your recipe wants you to use a certain type of meat, vegetable, bean or whatever and you only have another type:  Go head!  Substitute!  Use what you have.  Just be sure that what you’re using is comparable. For example, salmon, halibut and tuna are all fish with similar texture, thickness and cooking time, while cod and haddock cook similarly, as does flounder, tilapia and catfish. For vegetables, substitute one root vegetable for another (carrots, turnips, potatos, etc…), a flower vegetable for another (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc…) and make sure everything is cut to the same shape and size and thickness so your cooking times will stay the same.


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