Missing an Ingredient? Easy Substitutions to Help You Out In a Pinch!

Atlanta Eats | Mom Thyme


The past few weeks of ice and snow have really taught me a few things about myself. For starters, I’ve learned that nothing channels my inner Julia Child more than an inch or two of snow on the ground. As soon as that first snowflake falls, my thoughts immediately turn to cooking and all those new recipes I’ve been pinning on Pinterest!

Another thing I’ve learned is that regardless of how good of a driver I think I am (I really am!), this Southern girl has absolutely no business venturing out on the roads in the ice and snow. NOT EVEN when I’m missing a key ingredient for one of those “must try” recipes that I’ve been dying to make for friends and family!

So, what’s a girl to do when you can’t get to the grocery store and missing a main component of a recipe? Simply make a substitution, of course! Below, I’ve listed many commonly used ingredients and easy substitutions for them.

Most of the substitutions are non-perishable items that you’d have in your pantry anyway. And, all are great to keep on hand, as you never know when you’ll need a cup of buttermilk (but don’t want to buy a whole gallon!) or, when you’ll need a tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar just to remember that you used it all last week.

Let me know, what substitutions have helped you out in a pinch?

If your recipe calls for:

  • Baking Powder, Double-Acting (1 teaspoon) – Substitute ¼ teaspoon baking soda plus ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, or, ¼ teaspoon baking soda plus ½ cup buttermilk (decrease liquid in recipe by ½ cup)
  • Bread crumbs (1 cup) – Substitute 1 cup of cracker crumbs, 1 cup matzo meal, or 1 cup ground oats
  • Buttermilk (1 cup) – Substitute 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or white vinegar) plus enough regular milk to make 1 cup. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
  • Cream Cheese (1 cup) – Substitute 1 cup pureed cottage cheese, or, 1 cup plain yogurt, strained overnight in a cheesecloth
  • Cream of Tartar (1 teaspoon) – Substitute 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
  • Herbs, fresh (1 tablespoon chopped) – Substitute 1 teaspoon (chopped or whole leaf) dried herbs
  • Ketchup (1 cup) – Substitute 1 cup tomato sauce, plus 1 teaspoon vinegar, plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Prepared Mustard (1 tablespoon) – Substitute by mixing together 1 tablespoon dried mustard, 1 teaspoon water, 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips (1 cup) – Substitute with 1 cup chocolate candies, or, 1 cup peanut butter or other flavored chips, or, 1 cup chopped nuts, or, 1 cup chopped dried fruit
  • Sour Cream (1 cup) – Substitute 1 cup plain yogurt, or, 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough cream to make 1 cup, or, ¾ cup buttermilk mixed with 1/3 cup butter
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 ounce can) – Substitute with ¾ cup white sugar mixed with ½ cup water and 1 1/8 cups dry powdered milk: Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 20 minutes
  • Sugar, Confectioners’ or Powdered (1 cup) – Substitute with 1 cup granulated sugar plus one tablespoon cornstarch; process in food processor using the metal blade attachment until it’s well blended and powdery


Adapted from www.allrecipes.com



  1. Jessica Ginn Boehm:Thank you for sharing this! It is great to have substitutions. I was also scrambling around trying to make yummy recipes with the only things I had in the house.
  2. Lindsay:I love this!! I am always missing an ingredient and this will be extremely helpful. It looks like some of the substitutions are healthier than the "what the recipe calls for" ingredients. I will try the substitutions for the added benefit. Thank you for sharing!
  3. Kelly:.What a great article! Everyone needs to know these things and no one gives out this information any more. Thank you for jump starting the idea that one can make the wonderful recipe without every ingredient.