Bakers, we’ve all been here. Scenario One: You’ve committed to making cookies for the bake sale, cupcakes for your co-worker’s promotion, your child’s birthday cake. You’re under the gun to get it done and you realize, mid-prep, that you’re missing an ingredient. You’ve probably already got the oven preheated and the cookie sheet greased—you may even have a napping child upstairs and there’s no way you’re waking them up to run back to the grocery store. Scenario Two (not quite so serious but possibly even more frustrating): You have a monster sweet craving that nothing, and I mean nothing, but a batch of chocolate chip cookies will quelch. It’s easy to go into a panic wondering how you’re going to make those life-changing cookies or promised birthday treat without a key ingredient, but it turns out there is almost always a substitution you can make work from something you already have in your kitchen.
If you’ve been traumatized by an ingredient crisis like this in the past (and haven’t we all?), those days are over. RealSimple has come up with the ultimate guide to baking substitutions, Keep it on hand and you’ll know what to do when you’re again caught without a crucial component of your recipe.
This guide is also great if you’re ever trying to tailor a recipe to particular dietary restrictions like gluten-free or vegan. Not working with wheat, eggs and butter can be difficult, but with this handy chart, you’ll be able to adjust your recipes with ease.
Not just for baking, this guide can help with regular cooking as well. It can also help you make healthier diet swaps. For example, sour cream can be replaced with yogurt, so start swapping in protein-packed Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in Mexican recipes and creamy dips and your waistline will thank you.