Emergency cooking substitutions and equivalents

Our alternative ingredients will rescue your recipe

If you ever find yourself in the middle of cooking a recipe and discover you are missing an ingredient, fear not. Try a substitution from Sunset's New Easy Basics cookbook (March 1997) when there's no time to get to the store.

Shopping for recipes isn't always straightforward. Our equivalent yields guide is handy when you need to figure out how many lemons to buy for a recipe that calls for 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (the answer: 1).

You'll be able to make conversions effortlessly with our weights and measures guide below.


Equivalence is based on how product functions in recipe, not on sweetness.

Cake flour
Amount: 1 cup cake flour (109 g)
Substitution: 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons

Baking powder
Amount: 1 teaspoon baking powder
Substitution: ¼ teaspoon baking soda plus ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Active dry yeast
Amount: 1 package (1¾ teaspoons) active dry yeast
Substitution: 1 compressed yeast cake, crumbled

Cornstarch (used for thickening)
Amount: 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Substitution: 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Buttermilk or sour milk
Amount: 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk or sour milk
Substitutions: 1 cup (240 ml) plain yogurt or 1 tablespoon (15 ml) white vinegar or lemon juice stirred into 1 cup (240 ml) milk and allowed to stand for 5 minutes

Corn syrup
Amount: 1 cup (240 ml) corn syrup
Substitution: 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar plus ¼ cup (60 ml) liquid
Note: Use a liquid called for in the recipe.

Amount: 1 cup (240 ml) honey
Substitution: 1¼ (250 g) granulated sugar plus ¼ cup (60 ml) liquid.
Note: Use a liquid called for in the recipe.

Egg yolks (used for thickening)
Amount: 2 egg yolks
Substitution: 1 whole egg

Unsweetened chocolate
Amount: 1 square (1 oz./30g) unsweetened chocolate
Substitution: 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon (15 ml) melted butter or margarine

Semisweet baking chocolate
Amount: 1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate
Substitution: 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Amount: 1 can (about 1 lb./455 g) tomatoes
Substitution: 2½ cups (323 g) chopped, peeled, fresh tomatoes, simmered for about 10 minutes

Catsup or tomato-based chili sauce
Amount: 1 cup (240 ml) catsup or tomato-based chili sauce
Substitution: 1 can (8 oz./240 ml) tomato sauce plus ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) white vinegar

Dry mustard
Amount: 1 teaspoon dry mustard
Substitution: 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Grated fresh ginger
Amount: ½ teaspoon fresh ginger
Substitution: ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Sliced leeks
Amount: ½ cup (50 g) sliced leeks
Substitutions: ½ (80 g) sliced shallots or ½ cup (50 g) green onions

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