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Sometimes, the cravings hit and you preheat the oven and start prepping your next meal or sweet treat without checking your kitchen for all the needed ingredients. When you’re in a bind and need to substitute one ingredient for something else, use this list as your go-to.
If you’re making pancakes, chances are, you’re using buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of regular milk to get the consistency you need.
Simple steak marinades and other recipes sometimes call for a bit of red wine. Use red wine vinegar or cranberry juice in place of red wine if your bar cart is missing a bottle of red.
Does your marinade call for red wine vinegar? Spruce up your steak dinner by mixing red wine with apple cider vinegar.
Nobody wants boring chicken. When you’re making a sauce for the meat to cook in, use white grape juice if the recipe uses white wine.
Whether you’re on an eggless diet or you forgot to grab eggs at the grocery store, you can swap them for applesauce. Use a fourth cup of applesauce for every egg. If you don’t have applesauce or eggs, use one mashed banana plus half a teaspoon of baking powder for every egg the recipe calls for.
Not only is yogurt good for your gut health, but it’s also an easy substitute for when you don’t have sour cream. For best results, use a 2% milkfat plain Greek yogurt.
Butter is made from cream or milk, while margarine is made from vegetable oils, but they can be used interchangeably. Know that when you’re baking cookies using margarine, they may not have quite the same taste as the buttery goodness you’re used to.
There are some pretty iconic pies out there, and chances are, not every baker has had butter on hand when they were baking them. When baking a pie crust, you can use vegetable shortening in place of butter.
Impressing people with dessert might be kind of difficult if your recipe calls for brown sugar and you don’t have it. The solution for this pickle is to mix molasses with white sugar to get the added richness brown sugar provides.
When making a quick dinner dish like soup, the recipe might call for chicken broth. If you don’t have that, use one chicken bouillon cube for every cup of water.
It’s hard to replace the delicate powder of cake flour when baking cakes, but when you’re in a crunch, you can use three-fourths of a cup of all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for a similar result.
The aroma might not be the same, but when you’re cooking dinner and you forgot to pick up heart-happy garlic cloves, you can replace one clove with one-third of a teaspoon of garlic powder.
Short of starting your own rookie garden, you can use dried herbs if the grocery store was out of fresh herbs by the time you stopped by.
You might like adding heat to your meals so much that you ran out of cayenne pepper. An easy substitute for this is red chili flakes.
If you’re out of cinnamon, look through your spice drawer for some nutmeg and use this in place of cinnamon. Don’t use quite as much — nutmeg is a bit stronger.
Whether you have lactose intolerance or you’re looking for a dairy alternative for other health purposes, soy milk, oat milk or almond milk can be used in place of regular milk.
Save the tears for another time and use onion powder instead of an actual onion root. Bonus: it has a longer shelf life.
For those looking for a healthier alternative to granulated sugar, you can use honey instead. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use two-thirds of a cup of honey.
Agave is a natural sweetener — though not a healthy alternative per se considering it has such a high sugar content compared to other sweeteners, but it can be used as a replacement for baking or for sweetening your morning coffee.
You may not have cream of tartar sitting around, but your fruit bowl might have a lemon in it. Squeeze 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into any recipe that calls for half a tablespoon of cream of tartar.
If you use flaxseed to get your omega-3 fatty acids into your daily diet, use chia seeds for a similar nutritional substitute. Hint: sprinkle either seed over your morning oatmeal for a heart-healthy boost.
Cooking steaks and other meats correctly takes practice and some experimentation. Though oils have varied levels of fat content and different smoke points, you can swap olive oil for canola oil or grapeseed oil when you’re in a pinch.
Looking to add more fiber to your diet? If a recipe calls for bread crumbs, replace them with crushed bran cereal.
Sometimes, part of healthy aging means modifying your diet. When a recipe calls for heavy cream, use evaporated milk instead. This will cut the amount of saturated fat in your recipe.
Sure, cream cheese stuffed into a crepe and topped with fruit makes for a perfect breakfast in bed. But if you’re aiming for a more health-conscious recipe, replace cream cheese with low-fat pureed cottage cheese.
When you’re in a bind and need some form of ground meat for a quick dinner, check your freezer for ground turkey. It can be used in place of ground beef when you’re making dishes like meatballs, stuffed peppers or tater tot casseroles.
You can use allspice for many things — a topping on oatmeal, a spice in a dessert, part of a meat marinade or even for making mulled ciders or spiced cocktails. Substitute allspice for cinnamon and cloves if you’ve run out.
Barbecue sauce is a staple for grill season, but if you forgot to grab some at the store, swap 1 cup of the sauce for three-fourths of a cup of ketchup, 2 tablespoons of mustard and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
A good sweet chicken chili sandwich calls for chili sauce. If you don’t have chili sauce, mix 1 cup of tomato sauce, a fourth of a cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, a fourth of a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of allspice.
A bad cooking habit you should stop is skipping one of the ingredients in a recipe altogether if you don’t have it. When you don’t have cornstarch, use 2 tablespoons of flour for every 1 tablespoon of cornstarch the recipe called for.
Some recipes need mayonnaise, and if you’re trying to make healthier dishes, you may have stopped buying the creamy condiment. Use mashed avocado in place of mayonnaise — it works great in dishes like chicken salad.
Sure, it’s mostly used as a tasty condiment for burgers, but if your recipe calls for a cup of ketchup, you can use 1 cup of tomato sauce, half a cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of vinegar instead.
If you’ve mastered the art of pasta making, try switching things up with zoodles — zucchini bits that are spiraled into noodle shape.
Swapping unhealthy foods for better options is just one healthy habit that could keep you feeling young. The next time you want bacon for breakfast, slice carrots instead. Dip them in grapeseed oil or liquid smoke, then season with garlic powder, paprika and salt. Fry and enjoy.
Finding pumpkin pie spice in the grocery store during Thanksgiving week might prove difficult, but you can replace the spice with a mix of cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice and nutmeg.
Powdered sugar might be something you use only sparingly, like on pancakes or other sweet breakfasts you used to eat as a kid, but if you’re making icing and the recipe calls for a cup of powdered sugar, use 1 cup of granulated sugar plus 1 cup of cornstarch instead.
Some recipes call for coconut oil. If you’ve been cooking a lot of meals at home, you might have run out, but you can replace coconut oil with an equal amount of vegetable or canola oil.
If your easy, home-cooked meal suddenly doesn’t seem easy once you realize you don’t have the right ingredient, don’t worry. Use 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce plus half a cup of water to make tomato juice.
Baking with the kids is fun until the dessert comes out of the oven and it doesn’t look anything like the picture. This could be the classic mistake of using baking soda when you should have used powder. Remember to swap one-fourth of a teaspoon of baking soda plus half of a teaspoon of cream of tartar when you don’t have baking powder.
This one is a bit trickier because one-to-one substitutions can’t be made. To replace 1 cup of all-purpose flour, use one-fourth of a cup of coconut flour. You should also be using one egg per one-fourth cup of coconut flour. So if you have a recipe that uses coconut flour and you want to use all-purpose flour, use 1 cup of all-purpose flour for every one-fourth of coconut flour and cut your egg count in half.
When you’re trying to build muscle, it’s important to supplement your workouts with foods that are high in protein. When baking sweet treats, if the recipe calls for flour, only use half the recommended amount of flour and then replace the other half with your favorite protein powder.
Ever wonder why some store-bought desserts turn out so delicious and yours turn out lackluster? It could be because you forgo corn syrup in the recipe. If you don’t have any, use honey instead.
You might have used your last drop of half and half as a sweetener for your coffee, but you can replace that by mixing whole milk with melted butter.
Your grandma probably has quite a few cooking hacks up her sleeve, and knowing which spices can be used interchangeably might be one of them. If you don’t have ginger, replace it with allspice. Both spices have a mild, sweet flavor that allows one to work for the other.
When you don’t have any white vinegar in the house, use apple cider vinegar instead. If you’re wondering — no, apple cider vinegar tastes nothing like the sweet fruits you pick in the fall. It’s acidic and sour.
Vanilla extract goes in a lot of baking recipes, so it’s easy to run out. Replace it with vanilla bean, rum or maple syrup.
Though your final recipe may taste a bit different at the end, when you need a substitute for lemon juice on the fly, use lime juice instead. Tip: if you have a bowl of limes, use them to make salsas or other tasty Mexican recipes.
Though the fluffernutters and ants on a log you used to eat in your childhood were probably made with peanut butter, a simple swap is any other type of nut butter, such as almond butter. Almond butter has more vitamin E and iron too, which will give your snacks a healthy twist.
Warm buttery potatoes might be one of the best Thanksgiving side dishes, but if you’re looking for a less calorie-filled side, substitute the potatoes with mashed cauliflower.
The soft doughy dumplings are hard to replace, but when you’re looking to make a healthy substitution for gnocchi, you can use sweet potatoes instead. Of course, if you don’t have time to cook them from scratch, you can get this alternative from Trader Joe’s, where it’s among the fan-favorite items.
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