Home & Garden Home Recipe Substitutions for Common Ingredients By Melissa Breyer Melissa Breyer Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. Learn about our editorial process Updated March 19, 2020 Photo: Syda Productions/Shutterstock. Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home Sustainable Eating Pest Control Natural Cleaning DIY Family Green Living Thrift & Minimalism If we had a perfectly stocked pantry at all times, there'd be no need for a list like this. But sometimes, you just don't have what you need on hand. Having a handy array of swaps is also key for a sustainable kitchen—there is much less food waste when ingredients can perform double duty. Here are some ideas you can use in a pinch. Ketchup: For 1 cup, use 1 cup tomato sauce with 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Lard: Use an equivalent amount of shortening, healthy margarine, vegetable oil or butter. The texture of the finished product may vary. Depending on flavor profile, you can also try coconut oil. Lemongrass: It's hard to replicate the flavor, but for equal brightness and a close match, use 1 tablespoon lemon zest mixed with a little fresh ginger and a few cilantro leaves to replace 2 stalks of lemongrass. Lemon juice: For 1 teaspoon, use 1/2 teaspoon vinegar or 1 teaspoon white wine. Depending on flavor profile of what you are making, you can also try tart orange juice, orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, lime juice or pineapple juice. Is this the most efficient cut for a lime if you want to get the most juice out of it?. (Photo: accesslab/Shutterstock) Lemon zest: For 1 teaspoon, use 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract or 2 tablespoons lemon juice. You can also use an equivalent amount of lime or orange zest. Lime juice: For 1 teaspoon, use 1/2 teaspoon vinegar or 1 teaspoon white wine. Depending on flavor profile of what you are making, you can also try tart orange juice, orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, lemon juice or pineapple juice. Lime zest: For 1 teaspoon, use 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract or 2 tablespoons lime juice. You can also use an equivalent amount of lemon or orange zest. Marshmallows, regular size: For 8 marshmallows, use 1 cup miniature marshmallows or 2 1/2 ounces of marshmallow cream. (Or make vegan marshmallows!) Marzipan: For 2 1/2 cups, use 2 cups almond paste plus 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup. Mace: Use an equivalent amount of nutmeg; you can also add a sprinkle of ground cloves to nutmeg. Margarine: Use an equivalent amount of shortening or vegetable oil seasoned with salt to taste; or, an equivalent amount of butter. Depending on flavor profile, you can also try coconut oil. Mayonnaise: Use an equivalent amount of either sour cream, plain yogurt or Greek yogurt. (You can strain regular plain yogurt in a paper-towel lined colander for a few hours to make your own Greek yogurt; the longer you strain it, the thicker it will be.) Almond milk is low in protein compared to some of its counterparts, but it has a wide range of other nutrients. (Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock) Milk: Most recipes can handle milk to be substituted with other types (whole milk for 2 percent, et cetera); you can also use equivalent amounts of milk alternatives (soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, et cetera). Or, for 1 cup milk, you can use 2/3 cup evaporated milk with 1/3 cup water. Mirin: You can use plain sake sweetened with sugar; add about 2 teaspoons of sugar per 1/4 cup of sake. (See “sake” for substitutes.) Molasses: Use an equivalent amount of honey; or per cup, use 3/4 cup brown sugar or raw sugar mixed with 1/4 cup hot water. Nutmeg: Use an equivalent amount of ginger, cinnamon or mace. Nuts: Most nuts are more-or-less exchangeable. Oil, in baked goods: Use an equivalent amount of applesauce or other fruit puree; or an equivalent amount of fruit juice. Depending on flavor profile, you can also try coconut oil. Onion, chopped: Use an equivalent amount of chopped green onions, shallots or leeks; or per cup, 1/4 dried minced onion or 1 tablespoon onion powder. Orange juice: Use an equivalent amount of pineapple or other citrus juice; for large quantities if using lemon or lime juice, add sugar to taste. Orange marmalade: Use an equivalent amount of honey mixed with thinly sliced dried apricots. From watermelon seeds to macadamia nuts to chickpeas, the variety of nut and seed butters is spreading. Nelli Syrotynska/Shutterstock Peanut butter: Use an equivalent amount of cashew or almond butter; for those with tree-nut allergies, use soy nut butter. Pine nuts: With their sky-high price, pine nuts (pignoli) are a great candidate for substitution; especially in pesto, swaps work wonderfully. Try walnuts, almonds, unsalted cashews, hemp seeds or sunflower seeds. Potato starch: Although grain starches like wheat flour and cornstarch behave a bit differently than root starches like potato starch, arrowroot and tapioca, they can generally be swapped with each other in a pinch. For best results replacing potato starch, try an equivalent amount of cornstarch. Pumpkin pie spice: Per tablespoon: mix 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Raisins: Use an equivalent amount of any other dried fruit; try currant, cranberries, chopped prunes, dates, apricots, et cetera. Rice: Use an equivalent amount of barley, bulgar, brown rice, farro, wheat berries or couscous. Many other grains (like farro and barely) can even be used for risotto; for whole grains like brown rice, just be sure to pre-boil them for 20 minutes then drain; proceed as per recipe. Rice wine vinegar, plain: Use an equivalent amount of white vinegar. Rice wine vinegar, seasoned: Season plain rice vinegar with salt and sugar; add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon sugar to 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar. Ricotta: Use an equivalent amount of pureed cottage cheese or silken tofu. Rum: Use an equivalent amount of bourbon, sherry, or brandy; or rum extract, almond extract, or vanilla extract diluted by 50 percent with water. Saffron: Use an equivalent amount of turmeric or paprika. Sake: Use an equivalent amount of dry sherry (which is the closest); or use dry vermouth, dry white wine, or chicken or vegetable broth. Salt: According to the "Joy of Baking," kosher salt, sea salt and table salt can all be substituted in equal amounts by weight. Shallots, chopped: Use an equivalent amount of chopped onion, leeks or green onions. Sherry: Use an equivalent amount of rum, vermouth, brandy, or flavored extract diluted with water. Shortening: Use an equivalent amount of butter or margarine; texture in baked goods may end up slightly different. Sour cream: Use an equivalent amount of yogurt or Greek yogurt. Or, per 1 cup, mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough cream to make 1 cup; you can also use 3/4 cup buttermilk mixed with 1/3 cup butter. (You can strain regular plain yogurt in a paper-towel lined colander for a few hours to make your own Greek yogurt; the longer you strain it, the thicker it will be.) Soy sauce: Per 1/2 cup, use 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon water; or try 3 tablespoons miso paste mixed with 2 tablespoons water. Sugar takes many forms, and all of them can be nutrient thieves. (Photo: alexpro9500/Shutterstock) Sugar, brown (light or dark): Per 1 cup, use 1 cup raw sugar or 1 cup white sugar with 1/4 cup molasses added to it. For light brown sugar, you can mix equal amounts of dark brown sugar with white sugar. Sugar, caster: Use an equivalent amount of white sugar processed in the food processor or blender until very fine. Sugar, powdered: Add 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or arrowroot) plus 1 1/2 cups white sugar to a food processor or blender and puree until you have a fine powder. Voila. Sugar, white (granulated): Depending on flavor profile and texture, for 1 cup use 1 cup firmly-packed brown or raw sugar; or 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar; or 3/4 cup honey; or 3/4 cup corn syrup; or 1 cup maple syrup; or 1 cup Sucanat. If replacing with a liquid option, reduce another liquid in the recipe by 1/2. Sweetened condensed milk: For a 14-ounce can, mix 1 1/8 cup of powdered milk with 3/4 cup white sugar and gently boil, stirring, until thickened. Tahini: Use an equivalent amount of cashew or peanut butter. Tomato paste: Per 1 tablespoon, use 3 tablespoons tomato puree or tomato sauce, and reduce liquid in recipe by 2 tablespoons. Alternatively, you can boil down 3 tablespoons of tomato puree or tomato sauce until its reduced to 1 tablespoon. Tomato sauce: Mix a small can of tomato paste with 1 1/2 cans of water, add dried herbs (basil and oregano if you have them) and season with a pinch of sugar and salt and pepper. You can also puree a can of diced tomatoes. Vanilla bean: For each bean called for, use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Vinegar: For 1 teaspoon of vinegar, use 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice or 2 teaspoons of acidic white wine. Wine: Use an equivalent amount of broth or fruit juice made slightly tart with lemon or vinegar. Yeast, active dry: For a 1/4-ounce package, use 1 compressed yeast cake; or 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast; or 2 1/2 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast. Yogurt: Use an equivalent amount of sour cream, crème fraiche, thick kefir or buttermilk.