Food allergies, food sensitivities, or just forgot to check for buttermilk before you got started, here is the ultimate guide for baking substitutes. Vegan and allergy free focused.
“Can I substitute X for Y?” is one of the most common questions in baking. No matter if you have food allergies, food sensitivities, or just plain forgot to check if you had buttermilk before you started baking, we’ve all been there when we need to have a baking substitution.
Each baking recipe is like a tiny little science experiment where the ingredients serve a role to supporting and creating the final product. Thankfully, once we understand what role each ingredient plays in a recipe, it can be quite simple to swap out ingredients for another.
How to substitute baking soda and baking powder?
You can swap baking powder with baking soda as long as you add something acidic to help it rise.
1 teaspoon of baking powder = 1/4 teaspoon baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon baking powder = 1/2 teaspoon baking soda + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar OR lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder = 1/2 teaspoon baking soda + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Use this one in chocolate flavored recipes or anything you don’t mind a slight cocoa taste!
1 teaspoon of baking soda = 1 tablespoon of baking powder BUT don’t add ANY salt to the recipe
Swapping out the baking soda for baking powder can leave things tasting bitter, which is why you shouldn’t add extra salt. Add a little extra sweetener to help counteract this, but really try to avoid not having baking soda when possible.
How do I substitute milk?
Dairy is one of the easiest things to substitute in recipes! Plant-based milks work in a 1:1 ratio for any cow milk in any recipe. Where you can have variances is in taste and viscosity.
Rice milk is a little thinner, so don’t use it in baking without letting it boil down and evaporate slightly. Think 1 1/4 cup reduced to 1 cup.
Coconut milk has a very strong flavor and can flavor your food. Be aware of this when cooking and baking.
Soy milk and Oat milk are my preferred plant-based milks for use in cooking in baking as they have the most mild flavor and the same viscosity as cow milk.
Need to use whole milk in a recipe but only have plant-based or 2% in the fridge? No worries! Use the same liquid amount of milk and add 1 tablespoon of melted butter (cow or plant-based) to up the fat content a little bit.
How do I substitute cream?
Cream can be made by adding a fat to your milk.
1 cup cream = 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon melted butter
This can be plant-based milk and plant-based butter as well!
How do I make buttermilk? Can I make it non-dairy buttermilk?
Buttermilk is any milk that is slightly curdled. Add an acid to your milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using in baked goods.
1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice OR apple cider vinegar OR white vinegar
Yes! You can make this non-dairy buttermilk by using your favorite plant-based milk.
How to I substitute butter?
Butter is almost as easy to subtitutue as milk in recipes. Use a plant-based alternative for a 1:1 replacement. My favorite brand to use is Earth Balance as I think it bakes up the closest to cow butter.
If you are totally out of butter and need it for cookies, frosting, or a cake, you can use vegetable shortening in its place!
1 cup butter = 1 cup vegetable shortening + 1 tablespoon flour
How to replace yogurt in recipes? How to replace sour cream in recipes?
You can replace yogurt with a plant-based yogurt and have no issues what so ever in your baking and cooking. Generally, Greek-style yogurt and plain regular yogurt can be replaced with each other as well, just note that regular yogurt is a little more runny than Greek.
1 cup regular yogurt = 3/4 cup Greek yogurt + 3 tablespoons of water
If you are totally out of yogurt, you can use things like sour cream, and vice versa. I’ve used Greek yogurt in place of sour cream before in my coffee cakes and they have turned out just as delicious! This is a great hack for vegans and those allergic to cow milk who might not have a good non-dairy sour cream in their area.
1 cup of yogurt = 1 cup of sour cream
How to replace eggs in recipes?
Eggs are a tricky thing to replace in baked goods and cooking because they do 3 jobs at once: They help things rise, they help things bind together, and they provide moisture to what you are making. You need to understand the role of the egg in the recipe you are making in order to best replace the egg in your recipe. However, there are a few general principles you can use.
Flax Seed and Chia Seeds make the best 1:1 egg replacer. Combine the hot water and seeds, give them a stir, and let them sit for 5 minutes to get gelatinous.
1 egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds OR chia seeds + 3 tablespoons almost boiling water.
Egg whites can be replaced with aquafaba, aka the water that comes from a can of chickpeas! Whip up all the water from one 15-oz can of chickpeas to equal about 2 cups of whipped whites. Make sure to add 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tarter to your aquafaba while whipping to help stabilize the final product.
Other good egg replaces are
1 egg = 1 teaspoon baking powder + 1 flax/chia egg
1 egg = 1 mashed banana OR 1/3 cup applesauce
1 egg = 1 tablespoon plain gelatin + 3 tablespoons boiling water
Oils are fats and fats are generally easily replaceable in all recipes.
1 cup oil = 1 cup melted butter (cow or plant-based) OR 1 cup melted shortening
If you are totally out of all these things, don’t panic. You can use applesauce as well.
1 cup oil = 1 cup applesauce
Flour can be a tricky item to substitute in recipes. Wheat flour is filled with gluten, making it one of the most versatile ingredients in a recipe. When replacing flour with gluten free flour, you need to combine a few different items to get similar results.
My personal favorite gluten free flour blend also happens to be nut free and nightshade free.
1 cup wheat flour = 1/3 cup white rice flour + 1/3 cup brown rice flour + 1 tablespoon dry milk powder + 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1/4 cup oat flour + 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
That looks like a lot of ingredients, and it is! But the ingredients all combine to make an amazing wheat flour replacement that works in things like cookies, cakes, and even pizza crust.
Transform any flour (gluten free or wheat!) into cake flour with one simple trick: remove 2 tablespoons of flour per cup of flour and replace with 2 tablespoons of corn starch. This works for both gluten and gluten-free flour mixes!
Most baked goods have a sweet component to them. In general, you want to make sure you replace dry sweet things with other dry sweet things and liquid sweeteners with other liquid sweeteners. This way the general structure of the recipe is kept intact.
Refined Sugar Replacements
Sometimes you want to be a little healthier in your baking and replace any and all refined sugar. Here are a few ideas to get you started
1 cup refined sugar = 3/4 cup mashed banana + 1/4 cup coconut sugar OR date sugar
1 cup refined liquid sugar = 1 cup pitted dates pureed with 1/2 cup hot water
Mix together and you have homemade brown sugar!
1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup white sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses
1 cup white sugar = 1 cup of brown sugar
It just might taste a little heavier, however, your final results should be just the same as white sugar.
Liquid Sweetener Swaps
Liquid sweeteners can be substituted with each other at a 1:1 ratio fairly easily. Obviously a slight taste difference will arise, but the role of the ingredient in the recipe remains unchanged.
1 cup molasses = 1 cup maple syrup OR 1 cup brown rice syrup OR 1 cup corn syrup OR 1 cup honey OR 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
Misc. Baking Questions
Can I substitute foil instead of parchment paper?
NO! Foil is a heat conductor and will not only burn your foods if you use it in place of parchment paper, but it also will cause your cookies and cakes to stick to your pan. If you are out of paper, use extra oil/butter and flour to help your baked goods to not stick.
Crap. I’m out of paper muffin liners!
No worries, this one is easy. Simply grease your pan with butter, a neutral flavored oil, and pop the muffins or cupcakes into the pan.
Finally, some ingredients just can’t be replaced if you don’t have them. rather than worry, just make something else! Out of flour totally? Try my brookie recipe which naturally doesn’t have flour! If you have another baking swap that I missed, tell me about it in the comments below! And as always, if you have a question, make sure to write it here and I’ll write back!