Simple swaps you can make if you run out of an ingredient


Realizing you’re out of a crucial recipe ingredient is frustrating, but you don’t have to ditch your recipe or revise your meal plan just yet. HuffPost has suggested a few food substitutions to help you make it work.


If you’re cooking, any oil will do in place of butter; consider olive oil, vegetable oil or sunflower oil. For baking, use the same amount of regular margarine, lard or solid coconut oil. And if you only have half the amount of butter you need for baking, use applesauce for the rest.

coconut oil photo
Adobe Stock | pilipphoto


HuffPost recommends using any one of the following in place of each egg in a baking recipe: 1/3 cup of applesauce, 1/2 pureed banana (1/4 cup), 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds or chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water, 1/4 cup of blended silken tofu, 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of water, or 2 to 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise (for cakes).

Sour Cream

You can overcome a lack of sour cream by replacing each cup with a cup of plain Greek yogurt. You can also use 3/4 cup of cream cheese and 3 tablespoons of milk. Or, sub in 1/3 cup of melted unsalted butter, 3/4 cup of milk, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (for baking).

greek yogurt photo


Garlic is used in all sorts of savory recipes to add flavor. But you can replace each clove of garlic with 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder or 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt — just make sure to omit 1/2 teaspoon of salt from the recipe. You can also use 1/2 teaspoon of jarred, minced garlic or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of minced shallots.


Onion is another widely-used ingredient since it’s a vegetable that provides seasoning for so many dishes. For each medium onion, use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of onion powder or 1 cup of chopped shallots. You can also substitute 1 1/4 cups of chopped leeks, green onions or scallions (but use the white and light green parts only) or 1 cup of frozen chopped onions.

green onions photo
Adobe Stock | uckyo

Table Salt

Out of table salt? You can use 1 1/2 teaspoons of Morton kosher salt, 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or 2 teaspoons of soy sauce for each tablespoon of salt you need.


If you’re all out of rice, you can use the following (all quantities are for the uncooked product) for each 1 cup of uncooked white or brown rice: 1 1/4 cups of couscous, 3/4 cup of barley, 1 cup of quinoa, 1 cup of bulgur, 1 1/3 cups of wheatberries, or 1 1/2 cups of kasha. You can also use 2 cups of orzo pasta.

Fresh Produce

If a recipe calls for fresh produce, it’s fine to use dried or tinned versions. For instance, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs for each tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, or sub in 1 1/2 cups of canned whole tomatoes or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste for each pound of fresh tomatoes.

And remember, frozen fruits and veggies are just as good for you as fresh — perhaps even more so. Just ask “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, who posted a video message on Twitter during COVID to share her stocking-up recommendations.

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