Everyone knows someone who has a knack for baking. This person can whip up any goodie easily, using a hodgepodge of ingredients at their disposal – they would never dream of presenting a kaput cake or paltry pastry. While not all of us have this natural instinct for baking substitutions, the good news is it’s a skill that can be learned.
Common Baking Substitutions
Whether you want to safeguard against allergies, eat healthier, get a different taste or texture, or simply avoid going to the grocery store, there are countless baking substitutions you can use that will still deliver delicious results:
- Baking Powder
Baking powder is a leaving agent that is used in almost everything, so it’s no wonder that it disappears from cupboards quickly. If you reach for the baking powder and only find baking soda, you’re in luck. Just mix two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda, and voila! You’ve made your own baking powder.
The baker in the house is often left egg-less after a big family breakfast of sunny-side up omelets. A quick fix and also a vegan-friendly option is to substitute half a banana or 1/3 cup of applesauce for one egg. The flavor and consistency of your baked good will change a bit, but many people like the difference in taste.
Flour is one of the foundational ingredients in most baking recipes, so you’d think that it was irreplaceable. It’s not and a gluten-free and healthier option than flour is black beans. When baking, swap out 1 cup flour for 1 cup black bean purée. The beans are a great substitute thickening agent and are also packed with protein.
- Baking Mix
It’s a little-known kitchen fun fact that many baking mixes are interchangeable – you can swap out biscuit and pancake mix without any repercussions. You can also easily make your own baking mix with 9 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of nonfat dry milk powder, 5 tablespoons of baking powder, ¼ cup of white sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 cup of vegetable shortening. Your DIY baking mix will last about six weeks in an airtight container.
While undeniably delicious, butter isn’t the healthiest ingredient and bakers are on an endless quest to find substitutes that don’t compromise the taste of their creations. There are several butter substitute options and the one you use may vary by recipe. To replace 1 cup of salted butter, substitute 1 cup of margarine; 1 cup of shortening and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; 7/8 cup of vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; or 7/8 cup of lard and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. To replace 1 cup of unsalted butter, substitute 1 cup of shortening, 7/8 cup of vegetable oil, or 7/8 cup lard. In some cases, applesauce can also be used as a butter substitute.
Missing the sweet stuff for your recipe and there’s no beehive close by? Honey can be swapped out for corn syrup, at a one-to-one ratio. You can also make your own version of honey by mixing 1 ¼ cup of white sugar with 1/3 cup of water.
- Half and Half
Whether your baked good recipe calls for it or you can’t drink your morning coffee without a splash of it, half and half is easy to replicate. You simply have to mix 7/8 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Mayonnaise and Sour Cream
The high-fat content of mayonnaise and sour cream makes dishes like spinach dip irresistible, but not very healthy. You can replace both of these creamy staples with plain Greek yogurt. It’s a straight substitute at a one-to-one ratio.
Pasta noodles are filling and the perfect food to bake in large quantities – which many families rely on to feed the whole clan. But pasta is full of carbohydrates and can be too heavy of a meal. Two tasty, low-carb substitutes are zucchini noodles (otherwise known as zoodles) and spaghetti squash. Both are very easy to prepare: Zoodles can be sautéed in a few quick minutes and spaghetti squash is typically roasted and stripped apart with a fork.
- Pastry Crust
For the final substitution, we’re focusing on the final course: dessert. The next time you bake a pie or tart, use a graham cracker crust instead of a pastry crust. Graham crackers are tasty enough to be a worthy flavor replacement and are healthier because they contain much less butter.
Using a little creativity, you can be the neighborhood baker who always knows how to swap ingredients in and out of recipes without sacrificing the taste of the final product. These are common-sense substitutions to help you eat healthier and experiment with some different tastes and textures.