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Don’t Have It? Here’s How to Hack It!

Created October 23, 2019
1 cup of buttermilk can be replaced by mixing 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice or white or apple cider vinegar with enough milk to make 1 cup.
All out of brown sugar? Can’t find cornstarch in the cupboard? Don’t panic. Don’t run to the store. Betty’s got the substitutions to help you out of any pinch.
Do you know that uh-oh moment when you look in the fridge only to find you’re all out of eggs, buttermilk or another ingredient essential to the recipe you’ve already started? If so, print, Pin or save the chart below. With these substitutions for common cooking and baking ingredients, you can hack what you don’t have.

The Most Common Cooking and Baking Substitutions

Some of the most common baking and cooking substitutions include eggs, butter and buttermilk. We’ve outlined a few ways you can hack these three ingredients so the next time you have a spur of the moment desire to whip up a loaf of banana bread—you’ll be ready!

Kitchen Tip: When subbing an ingredient, you should always take note of its importance in the recipe and the amount that is needed. Start slow and try one change at time, like switching from butter to oil, otherwise your end-product will be nothing like the original recipe. Bottom line, you should really experiment to figure out what works best with the recipe you’re using—keep in mind, there will be changes in flavors, texture and appearance.

Buttermilk Substitutions

1 cup of buttermilk can be replaced by mixing 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice or white or apple cider vinegar with enough milk to make 1 cup.

What does buttermilk do?

  • Buttermilk adds tenderness and a pleasant tang to biscuits, quick breads, cakes and pancakes, but if it’s not something you always have in the fridge, this hack comes in handy.

How can I hack it?

  • To replace one cup of buttermilk, simply combine either 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or 1 tablespoon of white or apple cider vinegar with enough milk to make a full cup. With this replacement, your end product will still benefit from the acidic properties buttermilk lends.

When should I hack it?

  • This hack is truly foolproof and is a great sub in quick breads, biscuits, scones, pancakes, muffins and cakes.

Egg Substitutions

What do eggs do?

  • In baking, eggs add richness, moisture and structure. They act as the glue that hold and bind your dry ingredients together and also help your baked good to rise. However, eggs are necessary in some baked goods for peak performance (think meringue!), so cannot always be substituted.

How can I hack it?

  • In order to achieve the best result, the replacement ingredient should have a texture similar to that of an egg, and the quantity should also be equivalent. One egg is approximately equal to 1/4 cup liquid. Potential substitutes for eggs include: yogurt, applesauce and mashed banana. Always consider the number of eggs you are replacing. A substitute is more likely to work when it’s only replacing one egg.

When should I hack it?

  • If a quick bread calls for two eggs, try subbing in mashed banana or applesauce for one of the eggs. Quick breads tend to be more forgiving in terms of texture.
  • Cookies usually call for 1 to 2 eggs. Subbing in mashed banana or applesauce will be acceptable, but the overall texture will likely be cakier. Flavor could be altered, depending on the substitute used.

Butter Substitutions

What does butter do?

  • Butter adds flavor, moisture and tenderness to baked goods. If a recipe requires creaming—i.e. beating butter and sugar together until light and fluffy—butter is needed for texture and structure (think scratch cakes!) and substitutes should be avoided. On the other hand, if your cookie recipe calls for melted butter, vegetable oil can be subbed, because it has a similar consistency.

How can I hack it?

Consider the way butter is being used in your recipe before substituting another ingredient.

  • Melted butter is a liquid, so using oil or melted coconut oil makes sense. Try it in our classic Cornbread recipe.
  • Softened butter is a semi or solid fat, so vegetable shortening or coconut oil (not melted) is a good replacement. Try experimenting with our Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. The texture of your cookie and amount of spreading will both be affected.
  • Cold butter can be replaced with chilled vegetable shortening. Try it in our Stone Fruit Galette.

Kitchen Tip:

For quick breads, muffins, and some cakes, try using half of the ingredient called for and half of the substitute ingredient. If the change yields good results, increase the substituted ingredient a little the next time you make the recipe, while also decreasing the butter—note the results for next time. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, try one of the following substitutions.

  • 1/2 cup butter + 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup butter + 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter + 1/2 cup applesauce

Save this table now, so when it’s the holiday season and the kitchen never seems to close, you’ll still be able to make your buttermilk pancakes and so much more!

Easy Substitutions Table

Substitutions for Common Baking & Cooking Ingredients

Don’t Have It?


How to Hack It!

When to Use


1 large egg

Any of the following: ¼ cup plain yogurt, ¼ cup apple sauce, or ¼ cup mashed banana

Muffins, quick breads and denser cakes.


1 cup

1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar, plus enough milk to make 1 cup

Pancakes, muffins, quick breads, scones and cakes.

Baking Powder

1 teaspoon

½ teaspoon cream of tartar, plus ¼ teaspoon baking soda

Any recipe that calls for baking powder.

Heavy Cream

1 cup

¼ cup melted butter (cooled), plus ¾ cup milk

Any cooking or baking recipe that calls for heavy cream. Cannot be used for whipping.


1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Any recipe that calls for thickening sauces and fillings.



Solid or Softened








1 cup butter (two sticks)





1 cup butter (2 sticks)



1 cup vegetable shortening, 1 cup coconut oil



1 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup canola oil, 1 cup olive oil, 1 cup grapeseed oil, 1 cup melted coconut oil

Muffins, quick breads and cakes. Note: Butter adds flavor and tenderness to baked goods and results can vary. swapping it out can yield slightly denser results.

Vegetable oil

1 cup

1 cup canola oil, 1 cup olive oil, 1 cup grapeseed oil

Any recipe that needs vegetable oil. Note: Some olive oil tends to have a peppery taste, which can alter the flavor of baked goods.

Tomato sauce

15-ounce can

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste, plus 1 ½ cans of water

Any recipe that calls for tomato sauce.



Unsweetened baking



Semisweet chocolate chips



Semisweet baking




1 ounce



1 cup




1 ounce


3 tablespoons cocoa + 1 tablespoon melted shortening


6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate chopped


1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate+1 tablespoon sugar or 1 tablespoon cocoa plus 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons shortening

Cookies, glazes, dips, ganache

Sour cream

1 cup

1 cup plain yogurt

Any recipe that calls for sour cream.

Brown sugar

1 cup

1 cup granulated (white) sugar, plus 2 tablespoons molasses

1 cup coconut sugar

Any recipe that calls for brown sugar.

So now that you know how to bend the rules, without breaking your recipe, don’t be afraid to do some experimenting. Remember to note your results, so you remember for next time. Do you have more questions about substitutions for baking or cooking? Leave us a note below!