Ultimate Guide To Baking Substitutions (+ free printable)

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Top Common Baking Substitutions – Learn how to make quick substitutions for the most commonly used ingredients in baking! If you have ever run out of an ingredient then this is a must read! Plus you can download a free copy of the baking substitutions in on handy dandy printable to keep with you in your kitchen.

18 common baking substitutions pin collage


Updated: 12/17/2019

Have you find yourself in the middle of a recipe and you’ve run out of a key ingredient? Smack dab in the middle of a cake for that family birthday party and found you were out of baking powder, or maybe eggs? 

Yup been there a few times.

Or maybe you have an allergy for you or someone on your family and you need to avoid an ingredient. Whatever it is, I got you my friend. 

And you can print off the guide (with all the handy dandy info listed in this post) with all the baking substitutions in one place. Just scroll to the bottom to sign up!

Common Baking Substitutions

This list originally started as top 10 ingredient substitutions but it has grown so much more since then! I’m going to show you how you can substitute or make your own for these common baking ingredients:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Sugars (granulated, brown, and confectioners)
  • Light Corn Syrup
  • Chocolate
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Butter
  • Buttermilk
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Yeast
  • Vanilla
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Vegetable Shortening
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Cake flour
  • Cream of tartar
  • Sour Cream

Note: Any time you are making substitutions it will affect the end result in taste and texture. 


ceramic blue carton of brown eggs

If you find yourself out of eggs then try these 3 quick substitutions:

  • 1 egg = ¼ cup of either mashed pumpkin, banana, pureed prunes, applesauce, vegetable oil
  • 1 egg = 1 tablespoon of flax seeds (or chia seeds) + 3 tablespoons water and let them sit for 10 minutes to absorb.
  • 1 egg = 2 tbs water+  1 teaspoon oil, + 2 tsp. Baking powder


I love keeping a can of evaporated milk and a box of nonfat dry milk on hand for when I have run out of this key ingredient! Here is how to substitute:

  • 1 cup milk = ½ cup evaporated milk + ½ cup water
  • 1 cup milk = 1 cup water + ½ cup nonfat dry milk

Granulated White Sugar

Now I rarely run out of this ingredient, but I have to admit there have been a few times when I find myself out of it! And I hate making special trips to the grocery store. So here is what I do…

  • 1 cup granulated sugar = 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar = 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar = 2 cups powdered sugar

Keep in mind, making sugar substitutions can sometimes change the final results! 

Confectioners Sugar (or powdered)

I love making my favorite American buttercream frosting for cupcakes, but sometimes I find I’ve run out! Here is an easy way to make your own:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar = 1 cup of granulated white sugar + 1 Tbs. cornstarch

Simply combine them in your food processor and voila! Instant confectioner sugar! This can take up to 10 minutes in your food processor (or try using a blender). 

Brown Sugar

This is probably one of the most commonly used substitution I use in my kitchen, besides the buttermilk. Making your own brown sugar is so easy! Here is what you need:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar = 1 cup of sugar + 1 Tbs. Molasses
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar = 1 cup sugar + 2 Tbs. molasses

You can simply combine that in your food processor until it all comes together! If you need dark brown sugar, add an extra tablespoon of molasses!

bowl of brown sugar with a whisk in it

Light Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is a typical ingredient in making candy, such as marshmallows. If you are out of it, you can try substituting:

  • 1 cup light corn syrup = 1 cup of sugar + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup light corn syrup = 1 cup light molasses

Cocoa Powder

  • 3 Tbs. natural unsweetened cocoa powder = 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (+ reduce fat in recipe by 1 Tbs.)
  • 3 Tbs. Dutch-process cocoa powder = 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder + ⅛ teaspoon baking soda

container of cocoa with a spoon in it

Semi-sweet Chocolate

Now if a recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate, let’s say in a ganache for some Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes, but you don’t have any you can also use:

  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate = 3 ounce unsweetened chocolate + 3 Tbs. sugar + 1 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate = 1 Tbs. semi-sweet chocolate chips


sticks of butter, one is opened

If I run out of butter, it might seem all is over. But, there is a few things you can try! Basically, what you are replacing the butter is with is another fat. So here a few things you can do:

  • 1 cup of butter =  1 cup pureed avocado (works well in brownies)
  • 1 cup butter = 1 cup mashed banana (works well in brownies and cookies)
  • 1 cup butter = ½ cup applesauce + ½ cup vegetable oil


I rarely have a bottle of buttermilk in my house so I love being able to know how to make your own buttermilk.

  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 1 cup of milk + 1 Tbs. vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 1 cup yogurt

measuring cup of homemade buttermilk

Baking Powder

If you ever find yourself without baking powder or that your’s isn’t fresh anymore, then you can easily whip up some yourself.

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

Baking Soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda = 2 teaspoons baking powder

can of baking powder and container of baking soda


  • 1 envelope (¼-ounce) active dry yeast = 2¼ teaspoons active dry  (or rapid rise) yeast
  • 1 envelope (¼-ounce) active dry yeast = ⅓ of a 2-ounce cake yeast


  • 1 vanilla bean = 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract = 1 teaspoon DIY Vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract = 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract = 1 teaspoon maple syrup


bottles of homemade vanilla extract

Vegetable Oil

1 cup vegetable oil = 1 cup fruit puree 

1 cup vegetable oil = 1 cup applesauce

Vegetable Shortening

1 cup vegetable shortening = 1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable shortening = 1 cup margarine

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Skip buying an expensive jar of pumpkin pie spice at the store and make your own pumpkin pie spice in a pinch!

1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice = 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon + 1 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice + 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Cake Flour

I love making my own cake flour when I’ve run out!

1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all purpose flour (remove 1 tablespoon) + 1 Tablespoon cornstarch – sift a few times

Self-Rising Flour

1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt

bag of self-rising flour

Bread Flour

1 cup bread flour = 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten

Cream Of Tartar

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar = 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or vinegar)

Sour Cream

1 cup sour cream = 1 cup greek yogurt

So there you go! Common baking substitutions when you find yourself in a pinch! 

You can download the baking substitutions guide below and keep it handy in the kitchen!

 Until next time…happy baking everyone!

boston girl bakes



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