Ingredient Substitution Guide

The next time you’re missing an ingredient in a recipe, don’t panic. Many recipes are flexible and will still come out delicious when you improvise. Plus, many non-vegetarian recipes can be tweaked to create a new veg version. Use our chart below as a starting point, and start asking yourself questions such as: What do I really want this dish to taste like? What textures do I like? Why did the recipe developer put all of these ingredients in here, anyway? Here are some general guidelines about making substitutions in recipes: Try to keep ingredients within the same ethnic category. Ethnic flavor combinations have been developed over centuries and blend together naturally. If you are making over a Mexican dish without meat, use traditional Mexican proteins and starches such as pinto beans, black beans, and posole (hominy), not Asian mung beans or Indian lentils. Dissect the basic flavors of the dish. If you’re missing a certain flavoring, ask yourself if it is basically sweet, salty, sour, bitter, or spicy? Think of something from your cupboard in the same category. Substituting starches and proteins makes less of a difference in overall taste than spices and flavorings.

Try the pantry approach to cooking: If you find yourself continually missing key ingredients, analyze your pantry and consider restocking it.

Assemble complementary herbs, spices and flavoring in groupings in your pantry. That way, when you are experimenting with a dish—Italian, for example—your Italian seasonings such as basil, parsley, garlic, and oregano will be grouped together, and you can substitute accordingly.

Keep staples such as flours, oils, beans, and grains on hand so you don’t have to run out to the store at the last minute.

Make It Meatless

Ingredient: MEAT
Substitute: Beans, cheese, seitan (wheat meat), tempeh (cultured soybeans), textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu

Ingredient: MEAT/SEAFOOD STOCKS
Substitute:
Vegetable stock, water in which beans, pasta, or vegetables have been cooked, vegetable bouillon cubes, miso (fermented soybean paste) diluted with water

Ingredient: SEASONED OR SMOKED MEATS
Substitute: 
Flavored soy meat substitutes, crumbled tofu seasoned with fennel, parsley, and garlic, canned chipotle chiles, roasted vegetables, toasted nuts, smoked tofu, smoked cheeses

Ingredient: GELATIN
Substitute: 
Agar-agar (powder or flakes), arrowroot (powder), guar gum (made from seeds), xanthan gum (made from corn), kudzu powder

Make It Vegan

Ingredient: BUTTERMILK
Substitute:
Clabbered soymilk (1 cup soymilk mixed with 2 tsp. lemon juice or white vinegar)

Ingredient: CHEESE
Substitute:
Soy- and nut-based cheeses

Ingredient: CHEESE OR RICOTTA CHEESE
Substitute:
Crumbled tofu

Ingredient: EGGS
Substitute: 
Ener-G Egg Replacer, 1 mashed banana or 1/4 cup applesauce per egg (best for baked goods); 1 Tbs. agar flakes whisked into 1 Tbs. water and chilled for 5 minutes (for an egg white substitute), 1 Tbs. ground flaxseeds simmered in 3 Tbs. boiling water for 2 minutes

Ingredient: MAYONNAISE
Substitute:
Soy-based mayonnaise

Ingredient: MILK
Substitute: 
Nut milk, rice milk, soymilk

Make It Low-Fat

Ingredient: CREAMY SOUPS AND SAUCES
Substitute: 
Nonfat strained yogurt, soymilk, puréed roasted vegetables, cooking rice in soup then puréeing it

Ingredient: OIL IN BAKED GOODS
Substitute: 
Applesauce, puréed bananas, puréed cooked prunes

Ingredient: OIL FOR SAUTÉING
Substitute: 
Vegetable stock, wine, vinegar

Ingredient: SALAD DRESSING
Substitute: 
Vinegar or citrus juice thickened with puréed roasted red peppers, carrots, onions, or garlic

Ingredient: SOUR CREAM
Substitute:
Strained nonfat yogurt

Ingredient: WHITE SAUCE
Substitute: 
Puréed white beans

Make It Allergen-Free

Ingredient: BUTTER
Substitute:
Clarified butter (milk solids have been removed), olive oil, sesame oil

Ingredient: CHOCOLATE
Substitute:
Carob

Ingredient: COW’S MILK
Substitute:
Goat’s milk, soymilk, rice milk, nut milk

Ingredient: COW’S MILK CHEESE
Substitute: 
Goat cheese, sheep cheese, soy cheese, nut cheese

Ingredient: EGGS
Substitute: 
Ener-G Egg Replacer, 1 mashed banana or 1/4 cup applesauce per egg (best for baked goods); 1 Tbs. agar flakes whisked into 1 Tbs. water and chilled for 5 minutes (for an egg white substitute), 1 Tbs. ground flaxseeds simmered in 3 Tbs. boiling water for 2 minutes

Ingredient: PEANUTS
Substitute: 
Almonds

Ingredient: WHEAT FLOUR (FOR BAKING)
Substitute: 
Flours made from barley, buckwheat, corn, kamut, oats, rice, rye, spelt

Ingredient: WHEAT PASTA
Substitute: 
Pasta made from corn, spelt, kamut, quinoa, rice

Make It Ethnic

Origin: AMERICAS

Ingredient: CACTUS PADS (NOPALES)
Substitute: Green beans, okra

Ingredient: CHAYOTE SQUASH
Substitute: Yellow or green pattypan squash or zucchini

Ingredient: POBLANO OR ANAHEIM CHILES
Substitute: Minced jalapeño chiles and green bell pepper

Ingredient: POSOLE (DRIED HOMINY)
Substitute: Canned white hominy

Origin: ASIAN

Ingredient: BOK CHOY (CHINESE WHITE CABBAGE)
Substitute: Beet greens, kale, Swiss chard

Ingredient: CHINESE COOKING WINE
Substitute: Dry sherry

Ingredient: CHINESE FIVE-SPICE POWDER
Substitute: Mixture of anise seed or star anise, fennel seed, cinnamon, black peppercorns, and cloves

Ingredient: GALANGAL (THAI GINGER)
Substitute: Fresh ginger

Ingredient: LEMONGRASS
Substitute: Lemon zest

Ingredient: LOTUS ROOT
Substitute: Jicama or water chestnuts

Ingredient: MIRIN (JAPANESE RICE WINE)
Substitute: Sweet white wine

Ingredient: NAM PLA
Substitute: Soy sauce and lime juice

Ingredient: RICE WINE VINEGAR
Substitute: Cider vinegar, white wine vinegar

Ingredient: SESAME OIL
Substitute: 1 Tbs. sesame seeds fried in 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Ingredient: THAI BASIL
Substitute: Italian basil

Ingredient: WATER CHESTNUTS
Substitute: Jicama

Origin: INDIAN

Ingredient: ATTA (CHAPATI FLOUR)
Substitute: 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour plus 1/2 cup sifted whole-wheat flour

Ingredient: CHANA DAL
Substitute: Split yellow peas

Ingredient: CURRY POWDER
Substitute: Mixture of ground ginger, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric and fennel

Ingredient: GARAM MASALA
Substitute: Mixture of 1 tsp. cardamom seeds, 1 Tbs. cumin seed, 1 Tbs. coriander seed, 2 tsp. black peppercorns, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. cloves, and 1 tsp. nutmeg

Ingredient: JAGGERY (COARSE PALM SUGAR)
Substitute: Date sugar or brown sugar

Ingredient: TOOR DAL, URAD DAL, MUNG DAL
Substitute: Red lentils

Origin: MEDITERRANEAN

Ingredient: BROCCOLI RABE
Substitute: Broccoli plus arugula or dandelion greens

Ingredient: CANNELLINI BEANS
Substitute: Great Northern beans, navy beans, red kidney beans

Ingredient: FAVA BEANS
Substitute: Lima beans or butter beans

Ingredient: FENNEL
Substitute: Celery plus some fennel or anise seeds

Ingredient: PARMESAN CHEESE
Substitute: Any hard, aged grating cheese such as Asiago, Romano, or aged Monterey Jack

Ingredient: PINE NUTS
Substitute: Walnuts or a mixture of walnuts and almonds

Make It Alcohol-Free

Ingredient: RED WINE
Substitute: 
Pomegranate juice or 1/2 cup water with 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Ingredient: WHITE WINE
Substitute:
Vegetable stock, apple juice, carrot juice

Ingredient: WINE OR BEER
Substitute: 
Non-alcoholic wine or beer

you might also like



comments

This guide is FANTASTIC!!!

Dani Blu - 2014-09-23 21:58:10

Please please please can someone provide alternatives for soy? I like to avoid that toxic crap like the plague, and most vegan sites don't accommodate this.

Sarah - 2013-11-06 10:45:55

I would like to do the three day beet cleanse from the June 2013 issue, but can't find the black beluga lentils. What can I substitute that will go well with beats? I think the green lentils are too peppery.

Suze Miller - 2013-08-21 01:19:10

I am allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. What is a good substitute for these ingredients?

Brenda Davidson - 2013-07-27 12:59:37

Many vegetarian recipes use mushrooms in place of meat, but I'm allergic to mushrooms. Is there anything I can substitute for mushrooms that will not change a recipe entirely?

plk - 2013-07-02 21:22:28

this is really help full in my assignment hehehe:)

amour alarde - 2013-06-20 10:34:22

I'm converting a recipe that calls for 1/2 pound of chicken ... How much tofu, seitan, or tempeh would I use instead - is it still 1/2 pound???

KH - 2013-04-24 23:59:48

try this alternatives to avoid fat

siva - 2013-03-14 09:18:26

I use a teaspoon of liquid smoke to split pea soup in lieu of ham hocks.

ENiles - 2013-03-12 23:41:47

this was very important info. Teaching a class on healthy eating.The food substitute,and meat replacement. Thankyou Catherine

catherine mckoy - 2013-01-30 20:43:20

My daughter in law is a vegetarian but we are not. We are having a big seafood meal for my birthday and would like to include her. What is a special kind of fingerfood protein that would go with shrimp and crab. She is great. We do not want her to feel left out.

Val harrison - 2013-01-18 17:39:14

What's the difference between TVP and SOY CRUMBLES?

JINNY - 2012-11-18 21:18:27

I am allergic to soy. Is there a substitute for soy products, like soy sauce, tofu, soy cheese, etc?

Mary O\'Donnell-Good - 2012-10-24 17:03:36

What do I use as a substitute for rum? Someone wants me to make a rum cake, but I'm allergic to alcohol.

lilbangladesh - 2012-09-14 16:40:23

I don' do alcohol so what do use instead of white wine??

Marian Holloway - 2012-05-05 16:38:57