The Ultimate Guide to Baking Substitutions

March 20, 2020
March 20, 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Substitutions

  • Prep time: 1 hr
  • Cook time: 30 min
  • Total time: 1 hr 30 min

If you’re mid recipe, and you’re missing an ingredient, you’re in the right place. We put together The Ultimate Guide

  1. Blog
  2. /
  3. Recipes
  4. /
  5. The Ultimate Guide to Baking Substitutions

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Substitutions

If you’re mid recipe, and you’re missing an ingredient, you’re in the right place. We put together The Ultimate Guide to Baking Substitutions so that you can bake exactly what you want even if you don’t have every ingredient on hand!

ultimate baking substitutions guide

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Substitutes

We all know the feeling. You’re mid recipe and you reach for the baking powder. Only to discover that you only have baking soda.

Let’s face it, we’ve all found ourselves in some version of this situation. And sometimes, running to the store isn’t possible or isn’t preferable, which is why we’ve rounded up all the baking substitutions we’ve ever made. From sour cream substitutes, egg substitutes, sugar substitutes and everything in between, read on for every baking substitute you’ll ever need.

Substitutes for Leavening Agents

While baking soda and baking powder may sound similar, they’re actually very different ingredients. Both are leavening agents that will give your baked goods their rise, but make sure not to mix them up. Baking soda needs to be activated by another acidic ingredient. On the other hand, baking powder is a complete leavening agent, meaning it doesn’t need an acid to activate it!

Baking Powder Substitute

1 teaspoon baking powder = 1/4 teaspoon baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

You can substitute baking powder with baking soda if you add in something acidic to activate it!

Baking Soda Substitute

1 teaspoon baking soda = 3 teaspoons baking powder AND omit added salt in the recipe*

*sometimes too much baking powder can give your baked goods a chemical or bitter taste, so we don’t highly recommend swapping it out in large quantities if you can help it. Reducing the amount of salt can help to counteract this bitter taste.

Substitutes for Brown Sugar, White Sugar, Molasses, etc.

Most baked good call for some kind of sweetener (and if they don’t we don’t want anything to do with them). While many sweeteners are interchangeable, not all sweeteners are made equal. In general, try to replace dry sugar with another dry sugar and liquid sugar with liquid sugar to maintain the consistency and amount of liquid in your batter.

gingerbread pancakes process shot

Granulated Sugar Substitute

1 cup granulated sugar = 1 cup brown sugar

Usually, you can sub out white granulated sugar for light brown sugar seamlessly. It will add a little bit more moisture the recipe but not enough to change the recipe! In general, do not swap out granulated sugar for a liquid sugar as the sugar granules are often used to aerate butter or shortening.

Brown Sugar Substitute

1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses

Brown sugar is just white sugar mixed with molasses. It has a slightly deeper flavor than the one noted sweetness of white sugar. The good news is that it’s really easy to sub out if you have granulated sugar and molasses on hand!

Powdered Sugar Substitute

1 cup powdered sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar blended

Powdered sugar is a tricky one to replace. You can make your own powdered sugar but blending granulated sugar in a high powder blender until its powdered. It’s not easy to get it to that true silky store bought powdered sugar consistency, but it’s pretty much the best you can do f you can’t get your hands on the real stuff.

Molasses Substitute

1 cup molasses = 1 cup dark corn syrup OR 1 cup maple syrup OR 1 cup honey OR 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

Molasses is another tricky one to substitute because it has such a distinct flavor and consistency. Molasses adds a distinctly spiced, treacly flavor that you won’t get from these substitutes, so we’d recommend upping you spices in your recipe to make up for it’s absence if you have to sub it out. You simply cannot sub out molasses in recipes like these oatmeal molasses cookies, but in some recipes where molasses is not the star flavor, it will be okay!

Brown sugar will be the closest substitute to molasses in terms of flavor! If you’re worried about your recipe drying out without the moisture of the molasses, try swapping it out with a combo of brown sugar and maple syrup!

Maple Syrup Substitute

1 cup maple syrup = 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1 cup agave OR 1 cup light corn syrup OR 1 cup honey

Honey, agave, maple syrup, and corn syrup can all be substituted 1 :1 in most recipes. Maple syrup does have a distinctly maple taste to it, so we recommend adding some maple extract or vanilla!

Substitutes f0r Butter, Oil, Shortening, Peanut Butter etc.

Fat is something that is pretty easily subbed out with other fats. Liquids fats, like vegetable oil do tend to produce a slightly denser crumb, but generally speaking you can swap all of these out interchangeably.

1 cup vegetable oil = 1 cup melted butter OR 1 cup melted shortening OR 1 cup coconut oil

1 cup butter = 1 cup shortening OR 1 cup vegetable oil

Try to keep fat at the state the recipe calls for, ie: if a recipe calls for a liquid oil, use melted butter instead of room temperature butter. Also note, that different oils have different flavors. We always recommend using a neutral flavored oil unless you are fine with coconut or olive oil-y flavor notes.

Substitutes for Flour

Ahh flour; a tricky, tricky ingredient. Sometimes it’s a simple swap, but a lot of the time it depends on the recipe, so I won’t make any overarching claims. Depending on the recipe, flour amounts and interactions can vary. That being said, there are a few types of flour that you can swap out without worry!

sifting flour together in a bowl

All Purpose Flour Substitute

1 cup all purpose flour = 1 1/3 cups cake flour OR 1 cup bread flour

All purpose flour is the most commonly used flour in baked goods. You can swap it out with other flours you have on hand for similar results!

Cake Flour Substitute

1 cup cake flour = 2/3 cup all purpose flour

Likewise, you can substitute cake flour for all purpose flour!

Substitutions for Dairy Products

Dairy products AKA milk, buttermilk, yogurt, etc. are often used to moisten and lightened up cakes and muffins! There are tons of different versions of dairy products, so if you don’t have the exact one on hand, you can make your substitute below!

Buttermilk and Yogurt Substitutes

1 cup of buttermilk = 1 cup yogurt OR choose one of these buttermilk substitutes

1 cup plain yogurt = 3/4 up greek yogurt + 3 tablespoons water

Whole Milk and Cream Substitutes

1 cup cream = 1 cup whole milk + 1 Tablespoon melted butter

1 cup whole milk = 1 cup skim milk + 1 Tablespoon melted butter

Nondairy substitutes

1 cup milk = 1 cup almond milk OR  1 cup cashew milk OR 1 cup oat milk

If you’re trying to make a recipe vegan, nondairy, or you just don’t have the real deal you can always use these swaps!

A super moist Carrot Cake Banana Bread made with coconut, carrots, cinnamon, and banana. Perfect for breakfast, snack, or dessert!

Egg Substitutions

1 large egg = 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water (allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes before using to congeal!) OR 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise OR 1/4 cup apple sauce

If you’re looking to make a recipe vegan, or if you’re just out of eggs, you can find all the substitutions for eggs here! In some cases this won’t work. You can’t make macarons or pavlovas without egg whites, but you can sub out an egg in a muffin or cookie recipe no problem!


Some recipes call for ingredient that are simply irreplaceable. In this case, we recommend you find a different recipe! If you don’t have cocoa, don’t try making a brownie recipe that calls for cocoa powder. Find one that calls for chocolate bars instead if that’s what you have! As always, if you ever have a question about a substitutions (or anything at all), never hesitate to reach out in the comments below!


Leave a comment and rate this recipe!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Hi! I’ve been reading about cocoa powder and the differences between Dutch processed and natural one. I see they are not really interchangeable. The problem is, where I live the Dutch processed doesn’t exist, only the natural one! Are they really not interchangeable? Should I change a little the recipe? How? Thank you so much, I love your blog 😊

  2. I always taste the saltiness of baking soda in baked goods. I have read that baking soda and baking powder cannot be used interchangeably. I have always used baking powder 1:1 for baking soda. No saltiness and my treats have turned out just fine. I use baking soda for cleaning and deodorizing , and baking powder for baked goods.

  3. I have an old recipe for Jewish Apple Cake. It calls for 1/3 cup of orange juice. I have no orange juice. What could I use as a substitute?

    • Hi Rose! You could substitute a different type of juice line pineapple, mango, or anything else fruity! If you don’t have juice, you could also sub it out for buttermilk!