Cooking Ingredient Substitutions That Work

pouring milk
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay – tookapic

In a previous post, I shared some of my baking ingredient substitutions that always come to my rescue in a pinch. Today, I have some other tried and true cooking ingredient substitutions that also are helpful when you are in the middle or about to start a recipe when running out of the ingredient.

Here are My Favorite Trusted Cooking Ingredient Substitutions

Perhaps, you have a recipe that calls for wine. If you’re not a wine drinker or just run out of the needed variety or cooking wine for what you’re planning to make, here’s what you want to do. When you need red wine, one-half cup of cranberry juice cocktail and one tablespoon of lemon juice solves the problem for one-half cup of red wine like a chianti for chicken cacciatore. Reduce or double if you need less or more red wine in your recipe.

On the other hand, you may find that your recipe is always better with something like a white wine or sherry. In this case, I turn to one-half cup of white grape juice and one tablespoon of white vinegar for the one-half cup of white wine.

Cooking Ingredient Substitutions that Work Wine
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay – Kimpton_house

Our eyes can deceive us when estimating how much remaining milk we may have in those plastic bottles or judging by weight in those paper milk containers. No matter how often you are grocery shopping,  it helps to keep a few cans of evaporated milk and a small box of powdered milk solids in your pantry.

In order to replace one cup of whole milk, I found two great cooking ingredient substitutions that never let me down. The first is one-half cup of evaporated milk to one-half cup of water for each cup of milk required. If you only use skim milk, then use your can of the skimmed evaporated milk along with water in the same amount will work out nicely. The second milk substitution that I use is one-third cup of dry milk solids to one cup of cold water for each cup of milk I need.

I don’t always keep sour cream in my refrigerator. Still, I never let the lack of it stop me when I need sour cream in my recipe. However, I do always keep yogurt and cottage cheese because I use those more often, which make great cooking ingredient substitutions.

When I need one cup of sour cream for something like a salad dressing, I take out my blender and add one cup of cottage cheese and one tablespoon of lemon juice, mixing it until it has a smooth and creamy texture. This is especially handy when you’re trying to lower the calories when making a homemade creamy salad dressing. What else that I do is use one cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt to substitute for one cup of sour cream or the equivalent that you need. Depending on the brand of plain Greek yogurt that you buy, you’ll find the taste is fairly close or a smidgen tarter while giving you more healthy nutrition and protein compared to the food value of sour cream. I love plain Greek yogurt on cooked rice as an easy side dish.

Fresh herbs are always wonderful to cook with. I have a small garden with a few tomato and pepper plants because of all the deer, ground hogs, rabbits, and other wild beasts that seem to visit my yard ravage most of what I plant. One of the only things the growing animal population seems to leave alone is a few of my herbs, except for parsley which the rabbits get to before I can pick any. When I use fresh herbs, you do use more than the dried herbs. Usually one tablespoon of the fresh, chopped herb is the same as adding one teaspoon of the dried variety.

To be sure, fresh basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow even in the winter as I explained in my earlier post. Read that post and I’ll show you a simple way to do it.

Lemon juice is something that is easy to replace. If you use the reconstituted lemon juice in a bottle, I just substitute one-half teaspoon of white vinegar when I run out.

A fresh lemon typically has about two to three tablespoons of juice, depending on the size and one or two teaspoons of lemon rind. I just substitute the same amount of the bottled lemon juice and one teaspoon of lemon extract, if needed.

If you keep these cooking ingredient substitutions in mind, your recipe won’t ever suffer from the lack of what you are missing.

If you have any other cooking ingredient substitutions that you always turn to when you find yourself in this fix, please leave a comment and share.



  1. ellen beck
    July 23, 2018 / 7:31 pm

    Great tips! You know so many used to know these things and substituting has kind of become a ‘lost art’ I actually havent done the sour cream trick, that we normally have around, and my Greek yogurt is normall vanilla ha! I love Greek yogurt but I think the flavoring would throw it off and hubby sticks his nose up at any yogurt.
    Dried milk I always keep on hand. I works for so many things. I guess because I grew up drinking it… yes my Mom would do that especially when all 4 of us were huge cereal eaters. I dont think she could keep up since 3 were teenag boys!

  2. Lynne B
    December 12, 2018 / 11:15 am

    Excellent tips!! I like the wine substitutions. Add this to other uses for vinegar!

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