20 common ingredient substitutions

March 22, 2022

20 ingredient substitutes to make your life easier!

Have you ever suddenly gotten the urge to bake a cake or get a little more creative with your dinner, only to realise that you have an ingredient missing? We’ve been there – it’s extremely frustrating! But don’t fret; here’s a quick guide on how to substitute 20 common ingredients to help you the next time you’re fresh out. Bear in mind that when making substitutions, it can make a noticeable difference in the outcome and it may be worthwhile nipping out to the store when the missing ingredient is the main hero.

Almond flour

Chuck some raw almonds in a food processor and blitz to a fine, dry powder – don’t overdo it though, as they will eventually start to release their oils. See how to make our Almond, Chocolate and Orange cake here!


For those of you who often bake vegan treats, applesauce is a staple – and it’s so easy to make! Peel and chop up some apples and place in a small pot with water (this prevents the apples from scorching early on) with any additional flavourings like cinnamon, salt or sugar. Cover and cook until the apples are softened, then blend to a puree.

Baking powder

To replace 1 tsp baking powder, use  ½  tsp cream of tartar mixed with  ¼ tsp bicarb.

Barbecue sauce

You can’t cook burgers without a good slathering of BBQ sauce. To make your own, mix together ¾ cup tomato sauce, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp vinegar and 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce with mustard to taste. Cook over medium-low heat until glossy and thickened.


To crumb some schnitz or top your mac & cheese, you can substitute ground rolled oats, crushed cereal, pretzels or crackers. Alternatively, toast and blitz a slice of bread – 1 slice should give you ½ cup breadcrumbs. To make our sesame crusted chicken, click here!

Brown sugar

Did you know that brown sugar is a mixture of white sugar and molasses? Simply mix together 1 cup white sugar with 2-4 tbsp molasses depending on whether you want light brown or dark brown ‘treacle’ sugar.


To make 1 cup buttermilk, mix together 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice with a scant cup of milk (or soy milk for a dairy-free alternative). Set aside for 5 minutes to curdle before using.

Castor sugar

An easy trick that I learnt from my momma. Put that food processor to good use and blitz up some regular white sugar until fine. Voila!

Chilli flakes

Sub for fresh chilli to taste, or use half the cayenne pepper or hot sauce.

Creme fraiche

Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tbsp buttermilk in a glass jug. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 8-24 hours until very thick; store in the fridge.


There are many ways to replace eggs in your bakes. For cakes & cupcakes, each whole egg can be replaced with ¼ cup applesauce, mashed banana, buttermilk or blended silken tofu. For cookies, a whole egg can be subbed for 1 tbsp flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tbsp water; set it aside to rest until gelatinous before you use it. For brownies, you can use any of the above methods.

Fish sauce

Essential for a salty, umami kick, 1 tbsp fish sauce can be subbed for 1 tbsp soy sauce mixed with 1 finely minced anchovy fillet

Fresh herbs

Where appropriate, you can substitute 1 tbsp fresh herbs for 1 tsp dried.

Icing sugar

Like for castor sugar, you’ll need a food processor. Blend 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 tbsp cornflour until fine and powdery. Sieve before using, discarding any lumps.


Ricotta can be successfully swapped for chunky cottage cheese. Or make your own ricotta from scratch! Click here to see how.

Self-raising flour

Self-raising flour is easy to whip up with common baking ingredients. Just remember this ratio: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup cake flour + 1 ½ tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp salt

Sour cream

Sour cream can be substituted one for one with thick Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche.

Soy sauce

Only for small amounts (like in stews), substitute the same amount of Worcestershire sauce. 

Tomato Paste

Important for depth of flavour in any tomato-based sauce, tomato paste can be subbed for something probably already sitting in your pantry. Simply crack open a tin of tomatoes and blend until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced by a third.

Vanilla extract

Although it won’t taste vanilla-ry, using the same amount of maple syrup, bourbon, brandy or rum in place of vanilla will add the necessary depth of flavour to your bakes.


Pears and phyllo pastry milk tart


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