Quick Fixes When You’re Missing an Ingredient

Try these simple swaps when you don’t have everything you need to make a recipe
Quick Fixes When You’re Missing an Ingredient

Baking is an exact science, so if you’re missing an ingredient, you need a good replacement.

There’s nothing quite like a freshly baked cookie, cupcake, or biscuit that’s served still-warm from the oven, but sometimes the process of whipping up what should be a simple recipe becomes complicated — especially if you’re missing something that the recipe calls for. We’ve all been there: You’re halfway finished with the dough for your favorite scratch-made cookies or the batter for a delicious DIY chocolate layer cake, and then you realize that you’re short an ingredient. Baking is an exact science, so you can’t simply omit ingredients — what do you do when you don’t have everything that you need to make a recipe?

Click here for the Quick Fixes for When You’re Missing an Ingredient (Slideshow)

When you’re baking, every ingredient in the recipe plays a specific role. Ingredients like buttermilk or yogurt add moisture to baked goods, while other ingredients, like cornstarch, are used to dry them out and make them crispy. Ingredients like flour thicken the texture of batters and doughs, and ingredients like eggs give structure to baked goods as they rise. Other ingredients help baked goods rise as they cook; yeast, baking powder, and baking soda all contribute to tall, puffed cakes, muffins, biscuits, and breads.

When you’re out of a particular ingredient, the last thing you want to do is make a quick run to the supermarket to pick up more, but you can’t simply omit ingredients when you’re baking, and it can be difficult to know what to use in its place. In general, you want to use something that has the same type of flavor, texture, and chemical properties. It can be easy to choose a replacement ingredient based on flavor and texture, but understanding the science behind baking is more difficult.

To make things easier, we’ve rounded up reliable solutions for nine of the ingredients that you’re most likely to run out of when you’re baking.

Baking Powder


Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can simply swap baking soda for baking powder — baking soda helps leaven baked goods when its mixed with an acid (like buttermilk or lemon juice), and baking powder (which isn’t quite as strong as baking soda) already has an added acidic component. Instead of simply swapping one for the other, replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder with ½ of a teaspoon of cream of tartar and ¼ of a teaspoon of baking soda.



Some of the most moist and delicious baked good call for buttermilk, but if you don’t use it regularly, you may not have any on hand. Rather than buying buttermilk, replace it with an equal amount of unsweetened yogurt. Or make your own by mixing 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of either vinegar or lemon juice. Let the milk sit for a few minutes, until thickened. Then measure your homemade buttermilk according to your recipe.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

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