An Essential Illustrated Baking Substitutions Guide

Don't Let a Missing Ingredient Keep You From Baking

Nut Sub Guide

  The Spruce Eats / Jaime Knoth 

When preparing to bake a cake or cookies, we have likely all experienced getting excited about a recipe, only to find we are low on (or completely missing) one of the called-for ingredients, such as eggs, milk, self-rising flour, or certain spices. Or, in some cases, a specific piece of kitchen tool or equipment to make the whole thing come together. But, with these go-to substitution guides for some of the most common ingredients and tools on hand, you'll be able to whip up that chocolate cake or batch of cookies without making that last minute run to the grocery store.

Dairy Subsitutes

Alphabetical list of common dairy items and their substitutes.


The combination of milk and a bit of acid (vinegar, lemon juice) is a surefire buttermilk replacement.

buttermilk substitution
The Spruce / Catherine Song. 

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese can be replaced with strained yogurt, blended cottage cheese, or neufchatel cheese.

cream cheese sub chart
 The Spruce / Adrian Mangel


For baking projects that call for eggs, you can replace with egg substitute, mashed banana, applesauce, or silken tofu.

Egg Substitution Guide
  The Spruce / Elnora Turner

Half and Half

A combination of whole milk and heavy cream, whole milk and butter, or milk and heavy cream will all yield fantastic half and half replacements in recipes.

Half and Half Substitute
The Spruce / Ashley Deleon Nicole 


A comprehensive guide to baking even when you are out of milk, including how to use vegan milk alternatives or replacing milk with yogurt, sour cream, or evaporated milk in baking.

Milk Sub Guide
 The Spruce / Miguel Co.

Sour Cream

The tang and creaminess of sour cream can be duplicated with a combination of yogurt and baking soda when called for in a baking recipe.

Sour Cream Subs
 The Spruce / Hugo Lin

Baking Pantry Substitutes

Alphabetical list of common baking ingredients and their substitutes.


Extracts such as vanilla and almond, or some juices, can do the trick in place of alcohol.

Alcohol Substitution Guide
The Spruce Eats / Grace Kim 

Brown Sugar

A combination of molasses and white sugar will give you a homemade brown sugar substitute.

Brown Sugar Substitutes
The Spruce / Ashley Deleon Nicole

Corn Starch

Depending upon the need, corn starch's benefits can be replicated with AP Flour, instant tapioca, or arrowroot.

Cornstarch Subs
 The Spruce / Katie Kerpel 

Cream of Tartar

Depending on the use of the cream of tartar in your baking project, it can be substituted with an acid or with baking powder.

Cream of Tartar Substitutes
 The Spruce / Elnora Turner 

Demerara Sugar

Don't let the lack of demerara keep you from baking a recipe, as most other sugars are an equal swap.

Demerara Sugar Subs
 The Spruce / Miguel Co


Bread Flour

All purpose flour can be substituted in equal measure for bread flour in any recipe, when in a pinch, but anticipate that the end result will not be as chewy as that made with the higher-protein bread flour.

bread flour sub iillustration
  The Spruce / Maritsa Patrinos

Cake Flour

Cake flour is a simple combination of AP flour and cornstarch to produce a more tender flour for perfect cakes and cupcakes.

Cake flour sub
 The Spruce Eats / Alex Dos Diaz

Self Rising Flour

A combination of AP Flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt will produce a homemade self-rising flour that can be used in any recipe, cup for cup.

Key Lime

If key limes are not available, regular Persian limes can be used, by following this equivalents chart.

Key Lime Substitution
 The Spruce / Miguel Co 

Lemon Zest

Alternatives to the zest of a lemon include lemon extract, lemon peel, bottled lemon juice, or the zest of an alternative citrus like grapefruit or lime.

Lemon Zest Sub
 The Spruce / Ashley Deleon Nicole


The sweetness and depth of flavor that molasses imparts can be achieved through any swap out of sugar, brown sugar, dark corn or maple syrups, or honey.

Molasses Substitutes
 The Spruce / Theresa Chiechi


Those with nut allergies (or even those of us who are simply out of nuts for that banana nut loaf) can impart crunch and flavor with alternatives such as granola, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or a variety of dried fruits.

Nut Sub for baked goods
 The Spruce Eats / Jaime Knoth 


The fat and tenderizing property that shortening has in baking creates a variety of alternatives such as coconut oil, margarine, or butter, depending upon the needs of the recipe.

Shortening Subs
The Spruce / Elnora Turner 

Vanilla Extract

Any fan of baked goods knows the value added by vanilla extract, but maple syrup, almond extract, spirits such as rum and brandy, and even vanilla flavored non-dairy milk can help you achieve similar flavor in your next batch of cookies.

Vanilla Extract Subs
The Spruce / Ashley Deleon Nicole. 


Some pie crust recipes calls for vinegar to help tenderize, but lemon juice in equal measure or a slight adjustment in ratio with rice wine, red wine, apple cider or sherry vinegar will also do the trick.

Vinegar Subs
 The Spruce / Melissa Ling

Baking Spices Substitutes

Alphabetical list of common baking spices and their substitutes.


A similar flavor profile can be achieved with a blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

Allspice substitution
 The Spruce Eats


A combination of ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon will echo hints of this otherwise unique spice.

cardamom substitutes
  The Spruce Eats / Danie Drankwalter


Ground from whole cloves or replaced with allspice in equal measure.

Clove subs
 The Spruce / Miguel Co

Baking Equipment Substutes

Alphabetical list of common baking equipment and their substitutes.

Cookie Cutter

Don't let lack of cookie cutters stop you, an inverted drinking glass or a cleaned out tin can are all quick substitutions for the fancy cutters.

Cookie Cutter Subs
 The Spruce / Jamie Knoth

Parchment Paper

While parchment is a versatile tool in the kitchen, for most baking projects, a bit of grease in the pan or the use of a silicon mat will do the trick nicely.

Parchment Paper Sub
The Spruce / Theresa Chiechi 

Pie Weights

Pie weights can be replaced easily with any dried bean-- save the beans to use again for baking (but don't try to cook them for consumption).

Pie Weight Subs
 The Spruce / Miguel Co

Springform Pan

A cheesecake is possible even without a fancy springform pan, especially if you opt for a disposable foil pan that can be trimmed down when the cheesecake is ready for serving.

Spring Form Pan Subs
 The Spruce / Colleen Tighe