We’ve all been there, preparing a recipe only to discover that the cupboard’s or refrigerator’s supply of an essential ingredient is coming up empty.

Fortunately, there are plenty of in-a-pinch substitutions to consider. The results may not perfectly mimic what happens when the original ingredient is used, but they’re acceptable solutions, and certainly more productive than going without.

These measurements and yields are approximate, and may require adjustments based on all kinds of factors: temperature, humidity, settling and more.

Baking powder: For 1 teaspoon of baking powder, blend together 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Baking soda: For 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, use 1 teaspoon baking powder.

Brown sugar: Mix 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses for 1 cup brown sugar.

Buttermilk: Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or cider vinegar) with 1 cup milk (or 1 cup plain yogurt) and allow the mixture to stand for 5 to 10 minutes before using.

Cake flour: Use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour for 1 cup cake flour.

Cocoa powder: Use 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate for 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa.

Dark brown sugar: Mix 1 cup granulated sugar (or light brown sugar) with 2 tablespoons molasses for 1 cup dark brown sugar.

Egg: Use 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (or 1/2 of a large banana mashed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, or 1/4 cup silken tofu) for 1 egg.

Garlic: Use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic) for 1 fresh garlic clove.

Heavy cream: Combine 1 cup whole milk with 1 tablespoon melted butter for 1 cup heavy cream.

Herbs: 1 tablespoon fresh herbs is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon dried herbs.

Ketchup: Combine 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon vinegar for 1 cup ketchup.

Light corn syrup: Combine 1/3 cup hot water with 1 1/4 cups sugar for 1 cup light corn syrup.

Molasses: Combine 3/4 cup dark brown sugar with 1/4 cup water for 1 cup molasses.

Mustard: Combine 1 tablespoon ground mustard with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon water, 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar for 2 tablespoons mustard.

Sour cream: Use equal amounts plain yogurt.

Semisweet chocolate: Combine 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate with 1 teaspoon sugar for 1 ounce semisweet chocolate.

Unsweetened chocolate: Combine 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon melted butter for 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate.

Vanilla bean: Use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in place of the seeds of 1/3 of a vanilla bean.

Vanilla extract: Use equal amounts rum or bourbon.

Vegetable oil for baking: Use equal amounts applesauce.


Buttermilk Flapjacks

Serves 2 to 4.

Note: “The ideal flapjack is browned and crisp around the edges and tender and fluffy inside,” writes editor James Oseland in “The New Comfort Food” (Chronicle Books). “For the best results, you’ve got to take your time and cook the flapjacks one by one with plenty of butter in a hot skillet.”

• 2 c. flour

• 2 tbsp. sugar

• 4 tsp. baking powder

• 1 tsp. baking soda

• 1 tsp. fine sea salt

• 3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided, plus more for serving

• 2 c. buttermilk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 2 eggs, lightly beaten

• Maple syrup, for serving


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and reserve.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla extract and eggs. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until just combined to make a thick batter (for tender pancakes, don’t overmix the batter).

Heat the oven to low. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and heat until the butter’s foam subsides. Add about 1/2 cup of the batter to the pan. Cook the flapjack, turning once, until deep golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a large ovenproof serving platter and keep warm in the oven. Repeat the process with the additional butter and remaining batter to make 8 flapjacks in all. Serve hot, topped with butter and maple syrup.

Nutrition information per each of 4 servings:

Calories 650 Fat 39 g Sodium 1,600 mg

Carbohydrates 62 g Saturated fat 23 g Added sugars 6 mg

Protein 14 g Cholesterol 190 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ milk, 3 starch, ½ carb, 7 fat.

Meatloaf With Brown Sugar-Ketchup Glaze

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: From “The Best New Recipe” (America’s Test Kitchen) by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated

For the glaze:

• 1/2 c. ketchup

• 1/4 c. brown sugar

• 4 tsp. cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

For meatloaf:

• 2 tsp. vegetable oil

• 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 c.)

• 2 medium garlic cloves, minced

• 2 eggs

• 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

• 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• 1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce

• 1/2 c.whole milk or plain yogurt

• 2 lb. meat loaf mix (50% ground chuck, 25% ground pork, 25% ground veal)

• 2/3 c. crushed saltine crackers (about 16) or quick oats, or 1 1/3 c. fresh breadcrumbs

• 1/3 c. freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

• 8 oz. (8 slices) bacon, or more as needed


To prepare glaze: In a small saucepan, combine ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar, and reserve.

To prepare meatloaf: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, thyme, salt, black pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and milk (or yogurt). Add the meat, crackers, parsley and cooked onion and garlic. Using a fork, mix until evenly blended and the meat mixture does not stick to the bowl (if mixture sticks, add milk, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the mixture no longer sticks).

Turn the meat mixture out onto a work surface. With wet hands, pat the mixture into a loaf shape, approximately 5 by 9 inches. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush loaf with half of the glaze, then arrange the bacon slices crosswise over the loaf, overlapping them slightly, to completely cover the surface of the loaf. Use a spatula to tuck the bacon ends beneath the loaf.

Bake the loaf until the bacon is crisp and the internal temperature of the loaf registers 160 degrees, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool at least 20 minutes. While meatloaf is cooling, simmer the remaining glaze over medium heat until glaze thickens slightly. Pour glaze into a serving pitcher, slice the meatloaf and serve with remaining glaze passed separately.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

Calories 366 Fat 22 g Sodium 760 mg

Carbohydrates 16 g Saturated fat 8 g Added sugars 8 mg

Protein 25 g Cholesterol 130 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 starch, 3 medium-fat protein, 1 fat.