Whether you need to substitute ingredients because of an allergy, dietary restrictions, something you don’t like the taste, or if you don’t have that particular ingredient on hand, we’ve put together a guide to give you some alternatives to use in your cooking and baking.
The most important thing you need to know before substituting any ingredient, is to understand what that particular ingredient does and does not contribute to the outcome of the finished product.
If you are trying to replace whipping cream in an Alfredo Sauce recipe, you must realize that the cream makes the sauce thick, rich, smooth. So if you are going to replace the cream with rice milk, be aware that your sauce will not taste exactly like a sauce made with cream. Yes, it can be thick (by adding a starch as a thickener), and rich (by adding a bit more fat), but it will have a slightly different taste and texture.
Rice, almond, coconut, soy, and hemp milk can all be used interchangeably as an alternative to dairy milk. For the most part, you won't be able to tell the difference in taste when used in recipes like, cakes, cookies, breads and muffins. However in creamy (milk-based recipes) like puddings or custards however, you will notice a difference in taste, texture, lack of thickening, and the potential for curdling, and over-browning.
You may need to alter you recipe to compensate for using a dairy free milk. Some milk alternatives have added sugar, so use a sugar free version or taste your batter first and adjust the amount of sugar accordingly.
Dairy milk has a high acid content that helps to react with the leveners (baking soda/baking powder), making baked goods rise. Since milk alternatives don't have this acid, you may need to slightly increase the leveners if you notice your baked goods don't rise well.
Because milk alternatives are not as thick as regular milk, you may need to lessen the amount of liquid called for, and increase the amount of starch in recipes like cream sauces, puddings, or custards, to help the dish thicken and set. Using milk substitutes can be a bit of trial and error for some recipes until you find the right combination.
Soy milk can be a bit of a challenge to cook and bake with, so just be aware of some of its properties: It will curdle when boiled or when used in recipes with acidic ingredients like lemon juice or sun-dried tomatoes. To prevent this, add the soy milk at the end of the cooking after it has been removed from the heat, and use soy milk in recipes with little or no acidity to prevent curdling.
As a dairy free alternative to sour cream or even cream cheese try, full fat canned coconut milk, silken tofu or cashew cream. These substitutes will not work in cases like cheese cakes, where it's the main ingredient, but when small amounts are needed these alternatives will provide the thickness and creaminess needed in those particular recipes.
Eggs contribute a number of things to baked goods like moisture, richness, binding, and leavening. With so many things that eggs do it's hard to find one replacement that can do everything. So be aware that using an egg substitute may not provide exactly the same results as you're used to.
Here are a few products and ingredients you can use in place of 1 whole egg or 1 egg yolk:
- Ener-G Egg Replacer powder, available at grocery stores. Follow directions on package.
- For binding and moisture, try 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce + 1 tsp baking powder
- For levening, try 1 tsp baking soda + 1 tsp cider vinegar
- For binding, moisture, and richness, try 1 tsp (ground) flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water: In a sauce pan, simmer flaxseed meal and water for about 5 - 10 minutes or until a thick, egg-like consistency has been reached. Let cool completely before adding to recipe.
- For binding, moisture, and richness, try chia seeds: In a small dish mix together 1 Tbsp ground chia seeds to 3 Tbsp boiling water, stir vigorously then let sit about 5 minutes until thickened. Allow to cool to room temperature before using.
- 4 Tbsp pureed silken tofu + 1 tsp baking powder
- To replace 1 egg white, dissolve 1 Tbsp plain agar into 1 Tbsp water. Beat, then chill for 15 minutes and beat once more.
Substituting eggs is another important area where you need to understand what an egg does and does not contribute to the outcome of the finished product. So choose an egg substitute that would best fit the recipe. For example in a brownie recipe you could use the applesauce, but not the baking soda and vinegar. In crab cakes , where you just need eggs for binding ingredients together, you could use the Ener-G or the flaxseed mixture.
These replacement suggestions work when a whole egg is called for, and would be added in with the wet ingredients. Egg washes, or whipped egg whites would not work for these substitutes, so you would need to omit them from the recipe (or choose another egg free recipe).
If you are allergic to eggs, be sure to check the ingredient list of the packaged foods you buy. Below is a list of ingredients that may indicate the presence of eggs:
- Lecithin (egg)
- Ovolactohydrolze proteins
Run out of an ingredient and in a pinch? Below is a list of a few substitutes you can use for ingredients when you run out.
|1 cup Serving||Ingredient Substitution|
|Buttermilk||Into a liquid measuring cup, add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or white vinegar and add enough milk (whole, low-fat, or milk alternatives) to bring up to 1 cup. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes. It won't be as thick as buttermilk, but will give you a similar taste (although use only 1 tsp for soy milk to prevent curdling)|
|Evaporated Milk||Simmer 2 1/4 cups whole milk until reduced to 1 cup1 1/2 cups water + 1 cup milk powder (full fat or skim), whisk until smooth|
|Half & Half Cream||1 Tbsp melted butter + enough whole milk to equal 1 cup|
|3/4 cup whole milk + 1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream|
|1 cup evaporated milk|
|Light Cream||3 Tbsp melted butter + whole milk to equal 1 cup|
|1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream + 1/2 cup whole milk|
|1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup whole milk|
|Whipping Cream||2/3 cup whole milk + 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter or 2/3 cup evaporated milk (although cannot be whipped)|
|Sweetened Condensed Milk (1 14 oz can)||1 cup evaporated milk + 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, heated until sugar dissolves|
|Sour Cream||Greek yogurt, quark, firm-soft tofu (pureed)|
1. Cook almond milk & rice flour in a large bowl in a saucepan over med-high heat, stirring often, until very thick (once mixture comes to a boil it should be thick enough) - about 3-5 minutes, then let cool.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream shortening and margarine, then add vanilla and sugar. Beat until smooth. Then add cooled rice flour mixture and beat until very fluffy.
1. Refrigerate the cans of coconut milk for at least 2 days. Chill your bowl and beaters for at least 30 minutes. Open the cans and carefully scoop out the solid coconut milk into a bowl (reserve liquid).
2. On low speed, mix up coconut milk solids, then slowly add vanilla and sugar (sweeten to taste). Then beat on high for 1 minute. Turn off and add cocoa, slowly blend until combined, then whip on high for another minute. If cream is too thick add some of the reserved coconut milk liquid.
*It doesn't matter what size the cans of premium coconut milk you use, just adjust the sugar amount to taste.
1. Place cashews in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over nuts and let sit for 6 hours.
2. Drain and place in a blender along with 1/3 cup cold water. Puree until completely smooth, add more water if needed. Refrigerate for up to one week (or freeze in small portions to use as needed).
Note: this recipe won't work in all cases like in a cheese cake, but for simple substitutions it will work fine. Add some lemon juice and salt (to taste) to create the sour cream tangy flavor. Makes about 2 cups