Thomas J. Story

Our alternative ingredients will rescue your recipe

Sunset  – September 21, 2007 | Updated April 19, 2020

If you ever find yourself in the middle of cooking a recipe and discover you are missing an ingredient, fear not. We pulled some substitution tips from our classic Sunset’s New Easy Basics cookbook (1997) when you find yourself in a pinch.

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.

Emergency Substitutions

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.

Honey
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

Tomatoes
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

EQUIVALENT YIELDS

Lemon
Amount: 1 lemon
Yield: 3 tablespoons (45 ml) lemon juice and 1 tablespoon grated peel

Orange
Amount: 1 medium-size orange
Yield: ⅓-½ (80-120 ml) orange juice and 2 tablespoons grated peel

Bell pepper
Amount: 1 medium-size bell pepper
Yield: 1 cup (150 g) chopped

Carrot
Amount: 1 medium-size carrot
Yield: ½ cup (65 g) chopped

Celery
Amount: 1 medium-size stalk celery
Yield: ½ cup (60 g) chopped

Garlic
Amount: 2 small cloves garlic
Yield: 1 teaspoon minced

Green onion (white part only)
Amount: 1 medium-size green onion
Yield: 1 tablespoon chopped

Onion
Amount: 1 medium-size onion
Yield: ¾-1 cup (128-170 g) chopped

Egg whites
Amount: 8 large egg whites
Yield: 1 cup (240 ml)

Semifirm/firm cheese (Cheddar, jack, Swiss)
Amount: 4 ounces semifirm/firm cheese
Yield: 1 cup (113 g) lightly packed shredded cheese

Hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano)
Amount: 1½ hard cheese
Yield: ½ cup (40 g) grated cheese

Butter or margarine
Amount: ¼ pound (1 stick) butter or margarine
Yield: ½ cup (4 oz./115 g)

Whipping cream
Amount: 1 cup whipping cream
Yield: 2 cups (470 ml) whipped cream

Granulated sugar
Amount: 1 pound granulated sugar
Yield: 2⅓ cups (470 g)

Brown sugar
Amount: 1 pound brown sugar
Yield: 2⅓ cups (513 g) firmly packed

Powdered sugar
Amount: 1 pound powdered sugar
Yield: 3¾ cups (450 g) unsifted or 4½ cups sifted

Baking chocolate (semisweet or unsweetened)
Amount: 1 square baking chocolate
Yield: 1 ounce (30 g)

Walnuts or almonds
Amount: 4 ounces walnuts or almonds
Yield: ¾-1 cup (94-125 g) chopped nuts

Dry bread
Amount: 1 sandwich-size slice crisp, dry bread
Yield: ¼ cup (25 g) fine crumbs

Fresh bread
Amount: 1 sandwich-size slice fresh bread
Yield: 1 cup (45 g) soft crumbs

Graham crackers
Yield: 14-16 squares graham crackers
Yield: 1 cup (85 g) crumbs

Vanilla wafers
Amount: 22-24 vanilla wafers
Yield: 1 cup (80 g) crumbs

Chocolate wafers
Amount: 18 chocolate wafers
Yield: 1 cup (125 g) crumbs

Dry yeast
Amount: 1 package dry yeast
Yield: 1¾ teaspoons (7 g)

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

Liquid measure equivalents

3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon (15 ml)

2 tablespoons = 1 fluid ounce (30 ml)

4 tablespoons = ¼ cup (60 ml)

5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon = ⅓ (80 ml)

8 tablespoons = ½ cup or 4 fluid ounces (120 ml)

10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = ⅔ cup (160 ml)

12 tablespoons = ¾ cup (180 ml)

16 tablespoons = 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces (240 ml)

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons = ⅜ cup (90 ml)

½ cup + 2 tablespoons = ⅝ cup (150 ml)

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons = ⅞ cup (210 ml)

2 cups = 16 fluid ounces or 1 pint (470 ml)

4 cups = 2 pints or 1 quart (950 ml)

1 quart = .946 liters (950 ml)

1 liter = 1.06 quarts

4 quarts = 1 gallon (3.8 liters)

Dry measure equivalents

2 pints = 1 quart

Weights or avoirdupois equivalents

16 ounces = 1 pound (455 g)

2.2 pounds = 1 kilo

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