Passover Ingredient Substitutions

Ingredient Tweaks to Help You Adapt Recipes for Passover

Matzo in bowl

The Spruce 

When it comes to cooking for Passover, even adventuresome cooks often "go by the book," choosing only the same tried-and-tested recipes year after year. They know that matzo meal and matzo cake meal, for instance, do not behave like regular flour in recipes. Certain ingredients—like baking powder—are available with KFP certification, but often prove hard to find. Others—like certain flavoring extracts —simply don't exist.

When you're doing a lot of cooking from scratch (especially with shoestring kitchen supplies and holiday-imposed time limits to consider) it's hard to embrace the idea of experimenting. The last thing you want is a recipe failure! Still, it is possible to adapt "regular" recipes for Passover or to find reasonable substitutions if you need to tweak an existing Pesach recipe. Here's a handy list of Kosher for Passover ingredient substitutions that will help take the stress and uncertainty out of holiday cooking as well as tips for substitution success!

Read Through the Recipe You Want to Adapt

Consider the quantity of the ingredient you'd have to replace. A cake with 3 cups of flour is not a good candidate for conversion—cake meal is pre-baked, and simply doesn't act like flour in recipes. Save the cake for after Pesach. On the other hand, if your favorite recipe requires a couple of tablespoons of flour for dredging or binding, by all means, try swapping in matzo meal or cake meal.

Think About Your Available Kitchen Equipment

You might be able to make appropriate ingredient substitutions, but if a blender or food processor is essential for achieving the right texture and you don't have one for Pesach, take a pass. All things considered, if you're already making ingredient changes, it's best to stick to the original recipe's technique as closely as possible.

Quality Ingredients Are Key

Faux mustard, maple syrup, and soy sauce are all available for Passover, but they often taste terrible—and are typically full of artificial ingredients. Just because you could theoretically whip up your family's favorite Dijon Maple Teriyaki Chicken doesn't mean you should bother. You'll spend a small fortune on crummy products, and may end up with an MSG headache to boot.

Focus on What You Can Make, Not on What You Can't

It's very easy to fixate on the ingredients you can't use, especially if they're favorites. And it's a natural impulse to try and find replacements. But there are so many delicious, inherently chametz-free recipes—like this potato gratin—that get overlooked when we're busy trying to turn gummy Pesach noodles into a pasta dinner.

Check Out Gluten-Free Recipes

With the possible exception of oats, chametz grains contain gluten or proteins that are dangerous for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Thanks to increased awareness about those conditions, there are now countless blogs and cookbooks dedicated to the gluten-free diet. While many gluten-free recipes do contain kitniyot, you'll also find plenty that are totally Kosher for Passover, or that are easily adapted to become so. If someone has already done the work to adapt a recipe—especially if you find one with great reviews—by all means try it!

Passover Substitutions

Instead Of: Substitute This:
1 Cup all-purpose flour 5/8 Cup matzo cake meal, OR 1/2 Cup cake meal plus 1/4 to 1/3 Cup potato starch, OR 1 Cup ground nuts, or a combination
breadcrumbs matzo meal
1 Cup buttermilk 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, plus enough milk to make one cup. Let sit 5 minutes before using.
1 Cup confectioner's sugar 1 Cup less 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon potato starch, pulverized in blender
1 Cup cornstarch 7/8 Cup potato starch
1 Cup corn syrup 1 1/4 Cups sugar plus 1/4 Cup water, simmered until syrupy
graham cracker crumbs crushed Passover cookies, ground nuts, or a combination
margarine coconut oil (for information on KFP brands, see this Pesach grocery guide)
1 Cup matzo meal 3 broken matzos or 2 Cups matzo farfel, finely ground with food processor
1 Cup matzo cake meal 1 Cup plus 2 tbsp matzo meal, pulverized in blender or food processor
1 Cup matzo farfel 1 1/2 matzo sheets, crumbled into small pieces
peanut butter KFP almond or cashew butter
schmaltz (chicken fat) 2 caramelized onions, pureed until smooth OR olive oil
1 Ounce unsweetened baking chocolate 3 Tablespoon cocoa powder plus 1 Tablespoon butter, margarine, or oil
1 Cup vanilla sugar 1 Cup sugar plus 1 split vanilla bean, sealed in an airtight container for at least 24 hours.