Cooking substitutes?

In quarantine so you decide to do a little cooking – you’re in the groove but dammit there is something missing…sigh!  What can you substitute?  Yup, I totally understand & have been in this situation a few times too.  Some substitutions take a little more thinking than a simple sultana for raisin swap out. 

FYI my bench doesn’t look this tidy when I cook!
Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

Truthfully, I also find these substitutes pretty useful when adapting recipes (dairy free, egg free, gluten free).  Here are some of my favs plus I’ve provided some extra info for some.

👉 Butter

High fat substitutes work the best, as they retain moisture & help with binding.  Use a ratio of 1:1, unless stated.

👨‍🍳 Coconut oil / coconut butter / coconut yoghurt

👨‍🍳 Avocado, mashed

👨‍🍳 Olive oil

Note: use half the amount of olive oil for whatever recipe indicates for butter

👨‍🍳 Nut butter – whatever type you have on hand, I find them pretty interchangeable

👨‍🍳 Tahini

👉 Eggs (1 egg)

Eggs do a few things when cooking, so I have tried to group similar processes together.  FYI: This section has a lot of extra notes.


👨‍🍳 Chia seeds

What: 1 tbspn chia seeds + 2½ tbspn water

How: Add chia seeds to a small dish & add water.  Stir & let rest for 5 minutes to thicken. It should be gel-like & thick.

Notes: not an exact 1:1 substitution in every recipe.  Why? because it doesn’t bind + stiffen during baking quite like an egg.  

Good for: pancakes, muffins, biscuits & generally a lot of baked recipes.

👨‍🍳 Flaxseed meal

What: 1 tbspn flaxseed meal + 3 tbspn water

How: Add flaxseed meal with water to a dish.  Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes to thicken.

Notes: A good 1:1 substitution, although similar to a chia egg it doesn’t bind + stiffen during baking.

Good for: pancakes, muffins, biscuits & baked recipes

Binding & whipping

👨‍🍳 Aquafaba AKA chickpea brine

This is a relatively new thing & I’ve experimented a little but not heaps.  This one takes a bit of patience (& I suspect practice).  I know people who have had loads of success with this, honestly my results have been a bit meh.

What: 3 tbspn aquafaba (chickpea brine) + pinch of cream of tartar = approx. 2 cups whipped

How: Using a mixer it takes approx. 3-6 minutes to get soft peaks (depending how thick the aquafaba was initially).  Bottom line – it takes time to get soft peaks, so you need patience.  Adding a pinch of cream of tartar in, will help mixture to whip up a little quicker & make peaks firmer.

Notes: The trick for success seems to be the use of a hand mixer or stand mixer, don’t bother trying to do this by hand.  Besides taking forever, the results aren’t as good.  This option is great if you need a rising quality, plus it will provide a lighter, fluffier texture.

Good for: Unwhipped – use as an egg binder; semi-stiff peaks – whipped egg substitute THINK: lighter cakes; stiff peaks THINK: meringues & macaroons.

Moisture & sweetness

👨‍🍳 Fruit or vegetables

What: ½ banana, mashed; ¼ cup fruit puree (apple, pear, pumpkin, etc)

Notes: This is my favourite option.  Why? it is usually readily available & I can sneak in some extra fruit or vege.

Good for: pancakes, muffins, biscuits, & baked recipes

Creaminess & sweetness

👨‍🍳 Peanut paste

What: 3 tbspn peanut paste

Notes: OK, I know not everyone likes peanut paste & that is OK, just sub in another nut or seed butter.  I use them interchangeably with no problems.

Good for: biscuits & baked recipes

👨‍🍳 Soft tofu

What: ¼ cup soft tofu

How: Mash it up & sub it in.

Good for: Ideal for custards & tarts

👉 Flour (1 cup)

I have based my list on plain flour, which is also known as all-purpose flour.

👨‍🍳 ¾ cup coarse cornmeal

👨‍🍳 ¾ cup rice flour

👨‍🍳 1 cup rolled oats

Note: I tend to blitz them a little in the food processor

👨‍🍳 1 ½ cup oat flour

👉 Milk  (1:1)

👨‍🍳 Dairy milk

👨‍🍳 Soy milk

👨‍🍳 Oat milk

Note: very creamy option

👨‍🍳 Almond milk

👨‍🍳 Coconut milk

Note: will give a slight coconut flavour

👨‍🍳 Rice milk

Note: great nut & soy free option

👉 Plus, some randoms I find useful

Almond meal (1:1)

👨‍🍳 Sunflower seed meal

Note: great substitute for nut allergies or nut free school lunchbox recipes

Rolled oats (1:1)

👨‍🍳 Quinoa flakes

Good for: baking recipes.

Cream (1:1)

👨‍🍳 Coconut cream

Note: It will impart a coconut flavour

Good for: great for baking, cooking, whipping or puddings.

Sour cream (1 cup)

👨‍🍳 Plain Greek yoghurt

👨‍🍳 1 cup whole milk + 1 tbspn lemon juice OR vinegar

Baking powder (1 tsp.)

👨‍🍳 1½ tsp. cream of tartar + ½ tsp. baking soda

👨‍🍳 1/4 tsp. baking soda + ½ tsp. cream of tartar

Cream of tartar (1 tsp.)

👨‍🍳 2 tsp white vinegar

👨‍🍳 2 tsp lemon juice

Breadcrumbs (1 cup)

👨‍🍳 1 cup cracker crumbs

👨‍🍳 1 cup corn flake crumbs

👨‍🍳 1 cup rolled oats.

Cream cheese (1 cup)

👨‍🍳 1/2 cup plain yogurt + ½ cup ricotta cheese

Lemon juice (1 tsp.)

👨‍🍳 1 tsp. white wine

👨‍🍳 1 tsp. vinegar

Rice (1:1)

👨‍🍳 Brown rice

👨‍🍳 Barley

Soy sauce (½ cup)

👨‍🍳 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce + 1 tbspn water

Vinegar (½ cup)

👨‍🍳 ½ cup white wine

👨‍🍳 2/3 cup lemon juice

There are loads of other substitutes out there, so you may have a few more which you use successfully. Happy cooking Peeps.

#Life101 #Recipe #DairyFree #GlutenFree #Vegan #Vego #Keto #ConsciouslyNutritious

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