Ingredient Substitutions Cheat Sheet

Don’t have cumin? Missing an egg? Here are all the handy ingredient substitutions you need to save your recipe when cooking or baking.

Ingredient substitutions

Cooking or baking and noticed you don’t have a crucial ingredient? It happens to us all the time. Or, maybe you want to substitute ingredients in a recipe because of diet or taste preferences. Either way, we’ve got your back! We’ve developed a “cheat sheet” for common ingredient substitutions to help you end up with a successful recipe.

A few caveats about substitutions

Before we start, a few caveats about ingredient substitutions to remember when you’re varying your recipe.

  1. Some substitutions are better than others. The original ingredient is there for a reason. Some substitutes may work pretty well, others may just be a “quick fix” depending on the function of the ingredient. Remember that ingredients provide both flavor and texture to foods, so it can be hard to replicate both.
  2. In some cases, customize to taste. Remember that once you’ve gone off script in a recipe, you may need a different amount of the substituted ingredient and then adjust as necessary. For example, if you substitute chili powder for cumin, you’ll start with half as much: then customize to taste.
  3. Try it in the recipe, then assess success. Many substitutions are just second best: that’s why they’re subs! Others work like a charm. Assess whether the particular substitution worked for you. If not, try a different one on the list next time. And let us know in the comments your feedback!

Ingredient Substitutions Cheat Sheet!

Click “Read More” below to read about the substitution you’re looking for.

More resources

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Sara
    April 10, 2020 at 9:43 pm

    I made the your lentil coconut curry with cilantro chutney today, but we didn’t have any fresh cilantro and obviously getting some isn’t essential from a social distancing perspective. I used a bit of dried tarragon and dried parsley, and then raw baby spinach. While it wasn’t as good as the original, it was a pretty successful substitution- really, the spinach gave the vibrant green color and the dried herbs did impart some flavor.

    • Reply
      Sonja Overhiser
      June 20, 2020 at 12:34 pm

      Love that idea! Thanks for weighing in on this: great idea to add the spinach for freshness and color to the dried herbs. So smart!

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