Substitutions & Tips


 The Joy of Baking is a website worth looking at.  Especially their page on substitutions.

Agave Syrup (also called Agave Nectar):

Use this natural sweetener in place of sugar as it is lower on the glycemic index.  I think it has much more sweetening power than sugar, so I use less.  Experiment using these guidelines.

  • 1 cup white sugar   ↔   2/3 cup agave syrup, decrease liquid by 1/4 to 1/3 cup
  • 1 cup brown sugar   ↔   2/3 cup agave syrup, may not have to decrease liquid as brown sugar has more moisture than white sugar.  Use your judgement, experiment.
  • Reduce cooking temperature by 25° F (25 °F = -3.9 °C) as foods will brown quicker.


  • Tip:  in baked goods decrease the amount of sugar by one half.  You WILL NOT notice the decrease.  If you want to decrease your sugar intake even more, each time you bake reduce the sugar by another tablespoon or two until you have reached a sweetness level that is good for you.  For example, my favorite blueberry muffins call for1 cup of sugar, I use 1/4 cup and then sprinkle some vanilla sugar crystals on top using about 2 Tbsp for a dozen muffins.  When I got it down to 1/8 cup of sugar, Jeff said they needed a bit more so I went back to 1/4 cup.  Try the recipe for yourself!

Make Your Own Brown Sugar:

Here are some tips for making your own brown sugar, perfect to use when you’re in a pinch or you may find you want to use it all the time rather than store bought (since you can adjust the flavor strength to suit your needs).

  • Directions: Mix together well with a fork or with your hands then store in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.

#1 (1 cup)

1 cup Sugar (white)
1 TBS Molasses (for light brown) or
2 TBS Molasses (for dark brown)

#2 (3 cups)

3 cups Sugar (white)
1/4 cup Molasses

#3 (9 pounds (9 lbs = 4.08 kg))

9 lbs (9 lbs = 4.08 kg) Sugar (white granulated)
1 lb (1 lbs = 454 g) Molasses


  • Try different varieties and measurements of molasses to see what you like best.
  • The darker the color the stronger the flavor.
  • If your brown sugar is too hard to use, try these tips for softening it up.

Baking Substitutions:

  • Cake Flour: If you’re running short on cake flour and need it now, here’s a tip for making your own: Add two level tablespoons of corn starch to a one cup measuring cup, then fill with bread flour. Sift three times then use as needed.
  • Self Rising Flour: In a one cup measure, place 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt, then fill to top with flour. Mix well and store in an airtight container if not used right away.
  • Half And Half Cream: In a one cup measure, place 3 Tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons of melted butter. Top up the cup with whole milk. You can also use an equal measure of evaporated milk.
  • Buttermilk: (for 1 cup) In a one cup measuring cup, add 1 TBS of vinegar or lemon juice, then top up the rest of the measuring cup with milk. Set aside for 5 minutes, stir, then use.
  • Sour Cream: 1/3 cup milk + 2 teaspoons lemon juice + 1 cup cottage cheese. Process in a blender until smooth.
  • Graham Cracker Crumb Crust: In a pinch you can use crushed corn flakes in place of graham cracker crumbs. To make crust: 2 cups crushed corn flakes*, 1/3 cup melted butter, 2 TBS sugar. Gradually add the melted butter to the crushed corn flakes and sugar. Mix well and press into pie plate (8″ (8 in = 20.3 cm) or 9″ (9 in = 22.9 cm)). Bake at 350° f (350 °F = 177 °C)or 10 minutes. *Use the non-frosted corn flakes.
  • Chocolate Squares: 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa & 1/4 cup melted Crisco (for 4 ounces (4 oz = 113 g) unsweetened chocolate squares).
  • Soy Sauce:: Mix 3 tablespoons molasses, pinch ground ginger, 2 tablespoons Worcester sauce, and a little flour.
  • Balsamic Vinegar:: 1 tablespoon cider vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar = 1 TBS balsamic vinegar; or 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar = 1 TBS balsamic vinegar; or equal amount of sherry or cider vinegar.
  • Molasses: Honey; Dark Corn Syrup; Maple Syrup
  • Lemon Juice: 2 tablespoons lemon juice = 1 tablespoon vinegar.

Egg Alternatives:

Each of the below is equivalent to one egg. For best results it’s recommended not to replace more than 2 per recipe.

  • 1 tsp baking powder + 1 1/2 TBS water + 1 1/2 TBS oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder + 1 TBS water + 1 TBS vinegar
  • 2 TBS water or milk + 2 TBS flour + 1/2 TBS shortening + 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBS vinegar + 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 TBS lemon juice + 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBS cornstarch + 3 TBS water
  • 2 TBS arrowroot flour
  • 2 TBS potato starch
  • 1 TBS tapioca starch + 1/4 cup warm water (mix well & allow to gel a bit before using)
  • 1 tsp yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 banana, mashed (medium size) + 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TBS applesauce
  • 3 TBS mayonnaise (*not suitable for allergy or vegan accommodation)
  • Unflavored Gelatin: Dissolve 1 TBS gelatin in 1 TBS cold water. Beat in 2 TBS boiling water until frothy.
  • Banana: Mash 1/2 of a banana (ripe) until smooth then mix in 1/4 tsp baking powder.
  • Chia Seeds: Grind 1 TBS white chia seed meal in a spice grinder then mix in 3 TBS warm water. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before using.

Flax Seed Mixture:
*equivalent for 1 egg

1 TBS flax seed (ground)
3 TBS water

  • Method #1: Simmer together on top of stove for about 5 minutes until the consistency reaches a thick, egg-white like consistency.
  • Method #2: Blend ingredients together in a blender or food processor until the mixture is thick and creamy. Refrigerate before using.

Homemade Substitute:
*1/4 cup = 1 large egg

6 whites
1/4 cup dry milk powder (non-fat)
1 TBS vegetable oil

  • Mix all ingredients together and blend until smooth, refrigerate. Can be frozen.

Some low fat or low cholesterol recipes call for a commercial product. If you don’t have any on hand or wish to cook with fresh instead, 1 fresh egg = 1/4 cup of commercial substitute.

Baking Powder

  • Try 1 (1 TRY = 0.44 USD)/4 tsp bicarb (baking soda) & 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (for 1 tsp).
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb per 1 cup of buttermilk (for 2 tsp–use buttermilk already called for).
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb per 1 cup of sour milk (or use 1 cup milk soured with 1 TBS vinegar or lemon juice; use milk already called for)–for 2 tsp baking powder.
  • 1 cup of milk with 1 3/4 tsp cream of tartar, add 1/2 tsp bicarb–for 2 tsp baking powder. (use milk already required)
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb per 1 cup of molasses (use molasses already called for)–for 2 tsp baking powder

No Sweetened Condensed Milk in the Pantry?  Try these ideas:

  • 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter, 1/3 cup boiling water, 1 cup skim milk powder. Combine items in a blender and mix until all lumps are gone and milk is smooth. Store in refrigerator and chill before using.
  • 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup margarine. Bring to a boil until margarine melts and sugar is dissolved. Add 1 cup dry powdered milk and beat until smooth.
  • 1/4 cup hot water, 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Mix in blender for 1 minute or until sugar is partially dissolved. Continue to blend slowly adding 1 1/4 cups skim milk powder. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours before using. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
  • 1/4 cup margarine, 1 cup boiling water. Melt the margarine in the water then add 2 cups white sugar. Beat with mixer until smooth. Gradually add 4 cups skim milk powder, beat until smooth and thick. Makes 3 cups, keep refrigerated.
  • 1/2 cup hot water (scant), 3/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups powdered milk. Add water to blender, start blending while gradually adding powdered milk. Gradually add sugar. Blend until sugar is dissolved. Cool and refrigerate before using.
  • Dissolve 1/4 cup margarine in 1 cup boiling water. Add 2 cups sugar, beat with mixer until dissolved. Gradually add 4 cups skim milk powder. Beat. Makes 1 quart, keep refrigerated.

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