Substitution Guide

ingredient substitution guide

Cooking is a creative endeavor that doesn’t always go as smoothly as planned, even for the most accomplished cook. Being able to adapt in the kitchen is one of the greatest strengths you can exercise – and our handy guide of ingredient substitutions helps you do just that.  

Who knows, you may even like your finished dish better with a few substitutions (and we know you’ll love not having to make an extra trip to the store)! 


All-purpose flour: For baking, use equal parts cake flour and bread flour. 

Baking powder: Mix baking soda with a pinch of cream of tartar or a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Brown sugar: For baking, beat granulated sugar with honey (roughly 1 tablespoon of honey per cup of sugar). 

Eggs: Replace 1 whole egg with ¼ cup of commercial egg substitute 

Oils: Neutral oils like canola, coconut, corn, peanut, and vegetable are all interchangeable. For olive oil, you can substitute avocado or sunflower oils.  

Rice: 1 cup of cooked rice in a recipe can be replaced with equal portions of barley, bulgur, brown or wild rice. 

Stock: Water seasoned with orange or apple juice, melted butter, milk, miso paste, mushroom stock, olive oil, soy sauce, and even tea (depending on the recipe’s flavor profile). 

Vanilla extract: For baking, use equal amounts of maple syrup. 

Wine: For every cup of water, mix in 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. 

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Butter: Applesauce or pureed avocado for recipes for baked goods (the final result will be slightly denser, but still delicious). If using for pan-frying, use olive oil or another fat.  

Buttermilk: For baking, mix whole milk with a splash of lemon juice or white vinegar.  

Cream: For giving soups a creamy texture, boil sweet onions or cook white beans until completely tender, then puree until completely smooth. 

Milk: Use half the amount called for in the recipe with heavy, diluted with water until it reaches the recipe amount.    

Parmesan: Sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs for a salty garnish. 

Sour cream: For baking, use strained Greek yogurt in equal parts.  


Alliums: Onions (red, white, yellow), leeks, scallions, and shallots can easily substitute for each other.  

1 garlic clove: Replace with 1/8 tsp. garlic powder 

1 tbsp. raw ginger: Replace with 1/8 tsp. ground ginger 

  • 1 medium onion: Replace with 1 tbsp. onion powder 

Greens: Depending on how greens are being cooked in a recipe, these are the more common substitutes. 

  • Tender: chard, lettuce, spinach, tatsoi 
  • Bitter: arugula, endive, frisee, radicchio, radish greens, watercress 
  • Sturdy: kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, escarole 

Potatoes: Choose firm vegetables like parsnips, turnips, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes. 

Tomatoes: 1 1/3 cups diced fresh tomatoes can be replaced with 1 cup of canned tomatoes.  

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Meats & Seafood 

Chicken: If substituting bone-in, skin-on thighs for chicken breasts, increase the cook time until meat reaches an internal temperature of 165F. Decrease cook time if replacing chicken thighs with chicken breasts. 

Fish: Substitute lean fish for other lean fish (cod, halibut, sole, tilapia), and fattier fish for other fatty fish (salmon, swordfish, tuna, char). Do not substitute lean fish with fatty fish, and vice versa. 

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Can’t find an ingredient substitution you were looking for? Please comment below or contact us and we’ll get it added to the guide! 

Registered Dietitian Approved

Our recipes, articles, and videos are reviewed by our oncology-trained dietitians to ensure that each is backed with scientific evidence and follows the guidelines set by the Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice, 2nd Ed., published by the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, a professional interest group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society

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