guest post: recipe substitutions

by Laura on September 27, 2011

in food, Guest Posts

Hey guys – I’m turning over the blog to my friend Cynthia today so I can get to studying for a test Thursday. But first, I want to announce the winner of the Adora giveaway:

adora random

adora winner

Congrats Cherie!! Please send me an email with your address and flavor preference (milk or dark) and I will forward the info along.

Second – Does anyone want their fridge (and themselves) featured on Robin’s (new) blog? She has a series called Inside the Fridge and we are looking for submissions. If you are interested, let me know!

Have a great day everyone and I’ll see you tomorrow for What I Ate Wednesday!


Hello Becoming the Odd Duck readers.  While Laura is super busy with school this week I’m filling in.  I’m Cynthia from It All Changes, living healthy, eating good food and fitting it into my budget.


Cooking & recipes can be intimidating, especially with ingredients you never heard of or cost $14 per pound.  It’s like seeing a stop sign on recipe and going back to eggs for dinner and simpler foods.

Yet exploring flavors and cuisines can be full of fun.  I rarely buy things like buttermilk, macadamia nuts, tahini, or Worcestershire sauce.  That shouldn’t stop me from trying recipes including them or many other ingredients; it’s all in how you substitute and improvise.

brighter IMG_6779

Improvising in the kitchen is a life saver.  You can buy unique ingredients in small quantities from bulk bins…but its easier to exchange them for something similar, especially last minute.

Hummus is delicious in many varieties and super easy to make at home…if you have tahini.  But $7 a jar when you only need 2 tablespoons is a bit much.  Subbing in peanut butter gives the same nutty flavor and I’m sure you have a jar in your pantry.


Baking recipes contain all sorts of fancy ingredients like buttermilk, exotic nuts, or flavored extracts.  Almonds are a cheap alternative to sweet nuts like hazelnuts and macadamia nuts for half the cost.  If you only need a little buttermilk no need to buy a quart.  Grandma’s trick using regular or alternative milks and a smidge of lemon juice saves the day.  Vanilla extract is in almost any pantry and is easy to sub in for flavored extracts like coconut, orange or almond extract.  I usually add a bit of the real thing for flavor.


Fresh herbs are great but go bad quickly and can be expensive.  Dried herbs are easier and keep well on the shelf.  Reduce the amounts because flavors are concentrated, typically 1 teaspoon dry for every 1 tablespoon fresh.  Try ground ginger and a bit of lemon in place of fresh grated ginger. 

Sometimes you run out of a spice or just don’t like the flavor.  Basil, oregano and thyme can be interchanged with similar results; same for rosemary, sage, and tarragon.  Taste testing is key because they aren’t identical.  Try half and increase the amount for your taste.


Liquid ingredients are sometimes the worst because of storage space and shelf life  Molasses can be subbed with 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cream of tarter mixing with a bit of water.  Or you can add molasses to white sugar to make brown sugar.  If you need honey in a pinch, make simple syrup with water and sugar.

Worcestershire sauce can be exchanged with soy sauce; add some tomato paste and lemon to the soy sauce for an even closer flavor.  Recipe calling for a beer but you’d rather drink it?  For light beers try substituting chicken broth, ginger ale or white grape juice.  Dark beers use beef broth or stock.  Other alcoholic ingredients can be substituted resulting in similar not identical flavors.


Substituting ingredients won’t result in the exact flavors, but cooking is all in the experimentation to make a recipe yours…and on your budget.  You are the chef and don’t let ingredients scare you away.

*For other ideas a great resource is the Ingredient Thesaurus.*

Thanks Cynthia for taking over the blog today! Anyone have other common substitutions for recipes to share?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean September 27, 2011 at 10:21 am

inside the fridge sounds fun! i’m game if you still need people!


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