Recipe Substitutions

Save a trip to the store with these simple substitutions.

When you don’t have all the ingredients the recipe calls for, check to see if there is a substitution before making a special trip to the grocery store. Read our free tip sheet about recipe substitutions

Egg Substitutes for Binding 

Helps hold the shape and stick together, such as in meatloaf: 

  • 1 Tablespoon flax or chia seed + 3 Tablespoons water (combine and let sit for 5 minutes) 
  • 1 package plain gelatin + 2 Tablespoons warm water (do not mix until ready to use) 

For every 1 whole egg, substitute one of the following replacements in a baking recipe. Depending upon the recipe and the function of the egg, certain options are better suited than others, as the flavor and texture may be slightly altered. 

Egg Substitute for Leavening 

Gives texture and a lift, such as in cookies: 

  • 1 Tablespoon flax or chia seed + 3 Tablespoons water + ½ teaspoon baking powder 
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder + 1 Tablespoon liquid (water) + 1 Tablespoon vinegar 
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons water + 1 ½ Tablespoons oil + 1 teaspoon baking powder 

Egg Substitute for Moisture 

By leaving out the egg altogether and simply adding more moisture, such as in pancakes and quick breads: 

  • ¼ cup mashed banana, mashed avocado, applesauce, pumpkin puree, sweet potato, mashed beans or silken tofu 
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise 

Other Ways to Replace Eggs 

Each replacement equals 1 whole egg: 

  • 2 egg whites 
  • ¼ cup commercial egg substitute 


For 1 cup milk/buttermilk , substitute one of the following: 

  • Instant nonfat dry (powdered) milk: 1 cup water + 1/3 cup powdered milk 
  • Non-instant nonfat dry (powdered) milk: 1 cup water + 3 Tablespoons powdered milk 
  • Evaporated milk: ½ cup water + ½ cup evaporated milk 
  • Buttermilk: 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar + enough regular milk to make 1 cup (let sit 5 minutes) 

While it may not taste the same as drinking a glass of milk, there are substitutions that work well in cooking and baking. 

Fresh or Frozen Meat 

To save on costs and room in the freezer, look for plant- based sources of protein, canned meat options, or simply cut the amount of fresh meat in half. 

  • Use beans, lentils, nuts/seeds, quinoa, tofu, and tempeh 
  • Choose low-sodium canned meats, such as canned fish or chicken 
  • Reduce meat by half and replace the remaining amount with beans or vegetables 

Fresh Produce 

Stock up on canned and frozen fruits and vegetables when fresh produce is not available. 

  • Canned fruit packed in 100% fruit juice or water or unsweetened frozen fruit 
  • Canned no added salt or low sodium vegetables, drained and rinsed or frozen vegetables without seasonings/sauces 

Baking Powder

Double Acting: 1 teaspoon = ¼ teaspoon baking soda 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar 

Cornstarch, for thickening

1 Tablespoon = 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour 

Cream of Tartar 

½ teaspoon = 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar 

Half & Half 

1 cup = 1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted 

Heavy Whipping Cream 

1 cup = 1/3 cup butter + ¾ cup milk (will not whip; for baking only) 


To substitute for 1 cup of mayonnaise, ketchup or barbecue sauce, use the following: 

  • 1 cup sour cream 
  • 1 cup plain regular yogurt or Greek yogurt 
  • 1 cup cottage cheese puréed in a blender 
  • 1 cup tomato sauce + ½ cup sugar + 2 Tablespoons vinegar 
  • ¾ cup ketchup + 2 Tablespoons mustard + 2 Tablespoons brown sugar