Find substitutes for brown sugar, baking soda, honey, and more.

By Real Simple Editors
October 30, 2019
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We’ve all been there: You’re in the middle of baking a birthday cake or a batch of homemade cookies, and you realize you’re out of baking powder. Or chocolate chips. Or, perhaps the most frustrating of all, you open up the egg carton to discover there’s only one egg left, and the recipe calls for three. Whatever the case may be, the last thing you want to do is make a trip to the grocery store (after all, the project is already underway!), and you may be under a time crunch that doesn’t allow for leaving the house.

Instead of getting discouraged (or deciding to omit the ingredient altogether, which could result in an unfortunate baked good), we’ve put together a comprehensive list of simple baking substitutions for a number of common baking ingredients, from buttermilk to brown sugar (which, have no fear, you can DIY with white sugar and molasses), listed in alphabetical order.

Though we wouldn’t recommend making a habit out of using the substitutions for too many ingredients, some of these swaps may pleasantly surprise you. Always made your signature breakfast granola with honey? You might find you like it even better with maple syrup. Bringing a dessert to book club this week? Vegans in the group will be thrilled if you use the vegan substitute for eggs.

Ultimate Baking Substitutions Chart

If you’re a frequent baker, we recommend printing out the above baking substitution chart and hanging it on your fridge—you’ll be happy to have it next time you find yourself in a mid-recipe panic. For more common baking substitutions, read on, or press command + F (on a Mac) or ctrl + F (on Windows) to search for the ingredient you’re missing. With any luck, you’ll have the substitution on-hand, so your baking adventures can continue without further delay.

Baking powder substitute

For every 1 teaspoon of baking powder called for in the recipe, combine ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar. Bake immediately.

Baking soda substitute

Baking soda run out? For every ¼ teaspoon used in the recipe, substitute 1 teaspoon baking powder.

Bread crumbs substitute

Use ground rolled oats or crushed cereal in the same ratio: 1 cup of your substitute of choice for 1 cup bread crumbs.

Bread flour substitute

All-purpose flour makes a fine bread flour substitute. Use as much substitute flour as called for in the recipe.

Brown sugar substitute

For each cup of brown sugar, substitute 1 scant cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses, or try another brown sugar substitute.

Butter substitute for baking

For baked goods, coconut oil, margarine, or lard can replace butter as 1:1 substitutes.

Buttermilk substitute

Try 1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek), or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice.

Cake flour substitute

To replace 1 cup of cake flour, add 2 tablespoons cornstarch to a 1-cup measuring cup; fill the cup the rest of the way with all-purpose flour to use as a substitute.

Cornstarch substitute

For every 1 tablespoon cornstarch, substitute 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour.

Cream of tartar substitute

For a recipe that includes beaten egg whites and cream of tartar, use ½ teaspoon lemon juice with the eggs to replace ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar.

Egg substitute for baking

If you’re making yeast breads, cookies, pancakes, or waffles, you can mix 2 tablespoons ground flax meal and 3 tablespoons cold water for every 1 egg called for in the recipe. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes before adding.

Evaporated milk substitute

In a pinch, you can use half-and-half as a 1:1 substitute, or see more options for a substitute for evaporated milk.

Half-and-half substitute

For every ½ cup called for, use ¼ cup milk and ¼ cup cream, or ½ cup non-dairy coffee creamer.

Heavy cream substitute

Melt ¼ cup unsalted butter and slowly whisk in ¾ cup whole milk or half-and-half for every cup of heavy cream in the recipe, or see more options for a heavy cream substitute.

Honey substitute

Corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, or agave nectar all work as 1:1 replacements for honey.

Lemon juice substitute

Use cider vinegar as a 1:1 substitute for lemon juice.

Mascarpone cheese substitute

Make your own mascarpone cheese substitute by mixing 12 ounces of room temperature cream cheese with ¼ cup heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup sour cream. This will replace 16 ounces of mascarpone.

Powdered sugar substitute

To replace ½ cup of powdered sugar, grind ½ cup granulated sugar in a blender until fine. Multiply as needed to reach the amount called for in the recipe.

Semi-sweet chocolate substitute

Substitute 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate and ½ teaspoon granulated sugar for each 1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate called for.

Sour cream substitute

Use plain yogurt as a 1:1 replacement.

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