Week 1: Food Substitutions

This first post will help you substitute ingredients in your recipes when the desired ingredients are not available. Lesson #1 to those who are not competent in the kitchen: it’s okay to not follow the recipe exactly as it says. There may be times where you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, or you hate coriander, or you are allergic to peanut butter. Therefore, it’s always super useful to know what initial ingredients you can sub out to better suit your own tastes and to make your recipe your own!  


Substitute the following: 

Full fat milk for either almond, cashew, coconut, soy, skim, evaporated skim or canned evaporated milk (evaporated skim milk has a fraction of the fat but 2g more sugar).  

1 cup heavy cream for either 1/2 cup Greek yoghurt and 1/2 cup milk or 1 cup milk (if milk is used as the replacement, the result will be significantly less thick). 

1 egg for either 1/4 cup mashed potatoes, 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, 1/4 cup canned squash, 1/4 cup pureed prunes, 2 tbsp potato starch, 2 egg whites, 2 egg yolks, 1 tbsp chia seeds in 1 cup of water (left to sit for 15 minutes) or 1 tbsp flax meal in 3 tbsp water (left to sit for 5-10 minutes). 

1 cup sour cream for either 1 cup plain/Greek yoghurt, or 1 cup crème fraîche.  

Butter for either applesauce or prune puree for half of the butter. 


Substitute the following: 

Coriander/cilantro for either parsley or green onions.  

Mushrooms for either zucchini/courgette or eggplant.  

Asparagus for either green beans or broccoli. 

Okra for either green beans or capsicum. 

Ginger for lemon juice and ground white pepper. 

Bok choy for either napa cabbage or swiss chard. 

Butternut squash for either sweet potatoes or carrots.  

Mint for either basil or fresh marjoram.

Leeks for either green onions or shallots.

Condiments, Oils and Sauces

Substitute the following:

1 cup honey for 1 ¼ cup sugar and ¼ cup water.

Peanut butter for cashew butter, sunflower seed butter or tahini. 

1 tbsp fish sauce for either 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or 2 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp lime juice. 

1 tbsp oyster sauce for either 1 tbsp soy sauce and ¼ tsp sugar or 1½ tsp hoisin sauce and 1½ tsp soy sauce or fish sauce.

Rice wine vinegar for either apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.  

1 tbsp sesame oil for either 1 tbsp peanut oil or 1 tbsp canola oil and ¼ sesame seeds. 

1 cup ketchup for 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 tsp vinegar and 1 tbsp sugar. 

½ cup mayonnaise for either sour cream or Greek yoghurt. 

1 tsp poultry seasoning for either ¾ tsp rubbed sage or ¼ tsp dried thyme.

Pine nuts for walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans or sunflower seeds. 

1 tbsp tamarind paste for either 1 tbsp lime juice and 2 tsp brown sugar or 1 tbsp rice vinegar and 2 tsp brown sugar.


Substitute the following:

1 cup buttermilk for 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp vinegar or 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice or 1 cup yoghurt.

1 cup self-raising flour for 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp baking soda or whole-wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour.

1 cup molasses for 1 cup honey.

1 cup white sugar for 1 cup brown sugar or 2 cups confectioner's sugar (sifted).

1 square (1 oz) chocolate for 3 tbsp baking cocoa and 1 tsp shortening or 3 tbsp baking cocoa and 1 tbsp vegetable oil.

1 cup dark corn syrup for ¾ cup light corn syrup and ¼ cup molasses. 

1 cup light corn syrup for 1 cup sugar and ¼ cup water.

2 tbsp sugar for ½ tsp vanilla essence. 

1 cup oil or butter for 1 cup mashed bananas. 

1 tsp baking powder for ½ tsp cream of tartar and ¼ tsp baking soda. 


Substitute the following:

Any type of meat for tofu, eggplant, lentils, beets, potatoes or cauliflower.

Pancetta for either diced bacon or proscuitto.  

Tofu for either seiten, tempeh or portobello mushrooms. 

Bacon for either Canadian bacon or lean proscuitto.

Red meats for mushrooms.

Beef, chicken or pork for jackfruit.

Nuts and Grains

Substitute the following: 

Pine nuts for walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios or sunflower seeds. 

White bread for whole-grain bread, raisin bread, or whichever bread you prefer. 

Pasta (white) for whole-wheat pasta or gluten free pasta.

Rice (white) for brown rice or wild rice


Substitute the following:

1 tbsp cornstarch (thickening agent) for 1 tbsp potato starch (can tolerate higher temperatures than cornstarch and can moisten baked goods) or 2 tbsp all-purpose flour.

Note: Mashed potato flakes as needed, potatoes as needed or tofu as needed are good for specifically thickening soups.

Dry bread crumbs for rolled oats or crushed bran cereal.

Pick up the latest Student Cookbook from Arc Reception