No more eggs? Or bored of the same old meal? These substitutions are great ideas for when you don’t have an ingredient on hand or just want to mix things up.

Popular Meats

Don’t have a certain meat on hand for a recipe? One of these substitutions can help you out.

  • Use pork loinpork tenderloin or chicken if you don’t have veal. Cooking times will be about the same
  • Use pork loin, if you don’t have pork tenderloin
  • Cut a chuck roast into pieces as a stand-in for beef stew meat
  • Use any type of ground meat—chicken, turkey, pork—in recipes calling for ground beef. The resulting flavour of the dish will be slightly different;
  • Shred rotisserie chicken into pieces and use in recipes calling for cooked chicken.


It’s frustrating to discover you’re out of milk—or eggs or butter—halfway through a recipe. One of these tips might come in handy the next time that happens.

  • Mix 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp. distilled or apple cider vinegar and use in place of 1 cup buttermilk.
  • Blend equal parts evaporated milk and water to use in place of milk.
  • Substitute 1 egg with 3 tbsp. vegetable oil and 1 tbsp. water, in baking recipes. Substitute no more than 1 egg per recipe with this formula.
  • Use an equal measurement of plain Greek yogurt for sour cream.


Don’t panic if you find yourself short of a specific liquid for a recipe. There are other options.

  • Replace dry white wine with an equal amount of apple juice or white grape juice and a splash of cider or white wine vinegar
  • Use 1 cup boiling water and 2 tsp. instant coffee granules for 1 cup brewed coffee.
  • Substitute port with equal parts grape juice and apple juice mixed with balsamic vinegar to taste.

Seasonings Swap-Outs

There’s lots of room for improvisation if you’re missing an herb or spice for a recipe. Although the flavour will be different, you’ll get close.

  • Use dried herbs in place of fresh herbs—simply add ½ the amount of dried herbs for the amount of fresh called for. For example, 1 tbsp. of fresh herbs equals 1 to 1½ tsp. dried herbs. The flavour of dried herbs is more concentrated so you don’t need as much. And if you don’t have a particular dried herb on hand, don’t be afraid to swap it out with one you do have. The flavour of the dish may be slightly different but it will still taste great.
  • Make dried seasoning blends using a combination of dried herbs and spices you already have on hand. For Italian seasoning, mix oregano, basil and thyme. For poultry seasoning, combine thyme and rubbed sage. For Cajun seasoning, combine paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano and thyme; add cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Use fresh curly and flat-leaf Italian-style parsley
  • Use rubbed dried sage and ground sage Because ground sage is powdery and fine, start by adding less than what is called for in a recipe using rubbed dried sage and add more to taste.
  • Use white or yellow onions interchangeably, or substitute red onion for shallot.
  • Use fresh chile peppers interchangeably but know that some pack more punch than others so you may need more or less of a certain variety to achieve a similar spicy result.
  • Add soy sauce to taste to savory dishes when you’re out of salt.
  • Use 1/8 tsp. ground ginger for 1 tbsp. fresh ginger when you’re in a pinch.

Baking Substitutes

If you bake, then you’ve probably found yourself in need of an ingredient substitution once or twice. These might help you out the next time you’re in a bind. NOTE: Baking substitutions can be tricky so results might be less than expected.

  • Use ¼ tsp. baking soda mixed with ¾ tsp. cream of tartar when you’re out of baking powder.
  • Replace 1 tbsp. cornstarch with 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour or quick-cooking tapioca for thickening pies or fruit cobblers.
  • Use 3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tbsp. vegetable oil for a 1-oz. square of unsweetened chocolate.
  • Blend 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour with 1½ tsp. baking powder and 1/8 tsp. salt to use in place of 1 cup self-rising flour.
  • Make apple pie and pumpkin pie spice blends by combining ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg to taste.
  • Add 1 or 2 tsp. vanilla extract to recipes calling for a whole vanilla bean.
  • Process 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp. cornstarch until fine to make 1 cup powdered sugar. Note that the texture won’t be as fine and powdery as commercial powdered sugar.
  • Substitute instant coffee granules for instant espresso powder—use about twice as much coffee granules as espresso powder in the recipe. For example, use 2 tsp. coffee granules for 1 tsp. espresso powder.
  • Use quick-cooking and old-fashioned oats interchangeably in baking recipes. Do not use instant oats—they won’t produce the same results.