Need An Ingredient Substitute? What To Do In Those “Oh Crap” Moments!

Need An Ingredient Substitute? What To Do In Those “Oh Crap” Moments!

Sometimes we just run out of ingredients.  It happens – but let’s not rush back to the shop – have a look here first and see what you can use instead!

You might just create something better than the original — and save dollars by avoiding the shops in the process. Below are the more common ingredients we often run out of — we’ll add to them as we hear of new ones!


Baking Powder

Baking Powder is a rising agent for cakes and biscuits.  To make your own baking powder – mix together one part bicarbonate of soda, with two parts cream of tartar.

Balsamic Vinegar

A good substitute for Balsamic Vinegar is apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or brown vinegar – all available from your local supermarket.


Have no breadcrumbs? It’s easy to make your own – just use fresh or day old bread in a food processor and blend until you reach the required consistency. If you have no bread at all, try the following:

  • cornflakes, rice bubbles, rolled oats or oat bran
  • savoury biscuits such as Jatz, Country Cheese or Sao’s
  • potato chips
  • coconut
  • nuts (just process in a food processor first)

Brown Sugar

Substitute one cup of brown sugar for one cup of white sugar plus two tablespoons of golden syrup.

Butter and Oils

Well, the most obvious substitute is margarine. Oils can also be used but sparingly. Olive oil in particular can affect the taste of what you are trying to make — so judge accordingly. Other substitutes for butter can include apple sauce, Nuttlex (dairy free). Actually, in the health food section of your supermarket are some wonderful nut replacements — they can be expensive though!  If it’s just for toast in the morning consider leaving it out altogether — and just enjoy the flavoring of the topping!

Apple sauce is another great substitute for oils when cooking cakes and muffins.

Ingredient Substitutions | Stay At Home Mum
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Buttermilk is available in the dairy section of your supermarket but as it expires quickly, it’s not something most people have on hand day to day (although it does freeze well so don’t let it go to waste if you do have it!). To make your own at home, take a normal cup of milk and add two teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar and let it stand in a warm place for five minutes. If you’re out of milk too, try using sour cream or natural yoghurt.

Cocoa Powder

For natural unsweetened cocoa powder, use an ounce of unsweetened chocolate — but make sure to reduce fats in your recipe by 1 tablespoon. You may also use Dutch-processed cocoa plus 1/8 teaspoon of either lemon juice, white vinegar or cream of tartar.

Ingredient Substitutions | Stay At Home Mum

Condensed Milk

Condensed milk can be made at home. Combine one cup of powdered milk with 3/4 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup warm water. Mix until well combined and store in the fridge. Makes the equivalent of one standard can of milk!


Cream can be replaced with evaporated milk (and use some cornflour to thicken if required). Evaporated milk is great to keep on hand! Another replacement is 3/4 cup of full cream milk and 1/4 cup of butter. If you are making something savoury, sour cream, Greek yoghurt or creamed cheese makes a great substitute.

For a sweet dairy free cream, try our Whipped Coconut Cream recipe.

Cream of Tartar

Cream of Tartar can be substituted in really small amounts (1/2 teaspoons) with lemon juice or white vinegar.

Ingredient Substitutions | Stay At Home Mum
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Eggs are tricky and it depends on what you are making.  For sweet recipes – one tablespoon of custard powder per egg works a treat. For a dairy-free version, try 1 small mashed banana or 1/2 cup apple sauce (apple sauce is also a great sugar replacement!).

For savoury dishes, try 2 tablespoons of cornflour per egg.

Ingredient Substitutions | Stay At Home Mum
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Depending on what you are making, golden syrup, treacle or molasses make a good honey substitute.

Lemon Juice

If you need a substitute for taste, orange or lime juice make a great substitute. For other uses, use white vinegar.

Maple Syrup

To replace one cup of maple syrup, you can use a half cup of maple sugar and simply increase the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup. A combination of 3/4 cup corn syrup, 1/4 cup of butter and an optional 1/2 teaspoon of maple extract is also another way to go.


Mayonnaise can be substituted with sour cream or plain yogurt.

Self Raising Flour

Self raising flour can be replaced with plain flour with the addition of a two teaspoons of baking powder per cup of plain flour.  If you have no baking powder – refer to the post above for a replacement!


Liquid stock can be substituted with the same amount of wine (white or red) – or one stock cube and a cup of boiling water.

Ingredient Substitutions | Stay At Home Mum
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Sugar, Brown

To replace brown sugar use one cup of normal sugar with a tablespoon of golden syrup. We have the recipe on how to make it yourself at home.

Sugar, White

Many people are getting away from using white sugar now with good reason. If you have no standard white sugar on hand, caster sugar or brown sugar can be used. But there are lots of alternative substitutions which include:

  • Natvia or Stevia
  • Equal
  • Honey or Syrup
  • Apple Sauce


Wine can be substituted with chicken or vegetable stock (for white wine) and beef stock for red wine.


Yeast can be substituted with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.


If you do not have any yoghurt on hand, you can opt to use sour cream instead. Buttermilk is also a great substitute but if you can’t find one, check out how to make a substitute above!

Ingredient Substitutions | Stay At Home Mum
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Got another great idea for a replacement?  Comment below!

SAHM 8 | Stay at Home

About Author

Jody Allen

Jody is the founder and essence of Stay at Home Mum. An insatiable appetite for reading from a very young age had Jody harbouring dreams of being a pu...Read Moreblished author since primary school. That deep-seeded need to write found its way to the public eye in 2011 with the launch of SAHM. Fast forward 4 years and a few thousand articles Jody has fulfilled her dream of being published in print. With the 2014 launch of Once a Month Cooking and 2015's Live Well on Less, thanks to Penguin Random House, Jody shows no signs of slowing down. The master of true native content, Jody lives and experiences first hand every word of advertorial she pens. Mum to two magnificent boys and wife to her beloved Brendan; Jody's voice is a sure fire winner when you need to talk to Mums. Read Less

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