Substitutions in the Kitchen

Often we who live in Mexico can’t find the exact ingredients called for in a recipe.  Often substitutions are needed because of dietary restrictions.  And sometimes we just aren’t going to use an ingredient often enough to make its purchase worthwhile.

Here’s a list of commonly used substitutions.  It’s not comprehensive, but will certainly get you started.

Baking powder: 1 teaspoon baking powder = 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Balsamic vinegar:  1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar = 1 tablespoon sherry or cider vinegar

Brown Sugar: 1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2–3 teaspoons molasses

Butter:  1 cup butter = 7/8 cup vegetable oil or 1 cup shortening

Buttermilk: 1 cup buttermilk = 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let stand 5 minutes to thicken. Or use 1 cup plain yogurt.

Chives: Use scallion tops

Chocolate: 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Cornstarch (for thickening): 1 tablespoon cornstarch = 2–3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or rice flour

Fish sauce: 1 tablespoon fish sauce = 1 tablespoon soy sauce plus 1 finely-minced anchovy fillet

Flour (cake): 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Flour (self-rising): 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt

 Flour (bread): add 1 to 2 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten to 1 cup of all-purpose flour

Garlic: 1 clove garlic = ½ teaspoon garlic salt or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Herbs (chopped fresh): 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs = 1 teaspoon dried herbs, crushed

Honey:  1 cup honey = 1 ¼ cup white sugar plus 1/3 cup water

Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup = 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar

Lemon juice:  1 teaspoon lemon juice = ½ teaspoon white vinegar

Leeks (sliced): ½ cup sliced leeks = ½ cup sliced shallots or ½ cup sliced green onions

Mayonnaise: 1 cup mayonnaise = 1 cup sour cream or 1 cup plain yogurt

Milk: 1 cup whole milk = 1/2 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water, or ¾ cup half and half plus ¼ cup water, or 1 cup water + 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder

Mustard (prepared): 1 tablespoon prepared = 1 teaspoon ground mustard

Pancetta: Use sliced bacon simmered in water for 2–3 minutes, then rinsed and drained. This will remove some of the fat, so you may need to add more oil to the recipe.

Pine nuts: Use walnuts or almonds

Red pepper flakes: 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes = ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot sauce

Shallots: Use red onion, leeks or scallions

Sour cream: 1 cup sour cream = 1 cup whole milk yogurt (preferably Greek yogurt)

Soy sauce: ½ cup soy sauce = 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce plus 1 tablespoon water

Sugar (granulated):  1 cup granulated sugar = 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Tomato sauce: 2 cups tomato sauce = ¾ cup tomato paste + 1 cup water

Tomatoes (canned): 1 cup canned tomatoes = 1 ½ cup chopped fresh tomatoes, simmered for 10 minutes

Vanilla extract: Use the same amount of maple syrup, bourbon, brandy or rum

Wine (white):  1 cup white wine = 1 cup chicken broth, dry vermouth or water

Wine (red):  1 cup red wine = 1 cup beef broth, tomato juice or water

Yogurt (in baked goods): 1 cup yogurt = 1 cup buttermilk

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