People share the ingredient swaps they make all the time when cooking at home

People share the ingredient swaps they make all the time when cooking at home

You know how it goes: you’re cooking dinner only to realize you’re missing one ingredient. It happens to the best of us. Well, luckily, there are plenty of delicious and creative swap recipes and substitutions that work just as well—if not better.

Stirring risotto in pan

Paolo Gagliardi/Getty Images/iStockphoto

So, redditor u/jnwiggs1 asked, “What ingredient do you usually substitute in your recipes?” And many home cooks chimed in with their tips.

(Some answers also come from this post.)

1.“I use canned tomatoes all the time unless I can find good, fresh ones that are local and in season.”

Preparation of Bolognese sauce

2.“Depending on what I’m doing, I’ll often substitute liquids for other liquids. For example, instead of water, I will use broth. Or instead of stock, I might use wine (or vice versa). If all I have is water, then I’ll use that and improve the flavor elsewhere.”

Cooking quinoa in a pot on the stove
Jan Mah/Getty Images/iStockphoto

3.“I live in Singapore, where it’s almost impossible to find all these peppers – serrano, pimentos, anaheim, banana – you just can’t find them. I always use regular green chilies or jalapeños.”

Chopping pepper for guacamole
Charmian Perkins/Getty Images

4.“I find guanciale (pork jowl) impossible to get at a reasonable price, so I just use bacon or pancetta instead.”

Spaghetti carbonara
Gianfranco Caraca/Getty Images

5.“I use green onions instead of chives. They are cheaper and I can’t tell the difference. Plus, I usually have a jar of them growing in my kitchen.”

Etouffee with green onions

6.“I always substitute Italian breadcrumbs for panko. IMO, panko is better in almost every way.”

Panko coated salmon
Candice Bell/Getty Images/iStockphoto

7.“I substitute unsalted butter for salted butter, even when I’m baking. I like the extra salt, especially in desserts, because it balances out the sweetness.”

Slicing butter for baking
Miniseries / Getty Images

8.“Oils and vinegar. I already have five types of vinegar on hand and I’ll be damned if I’m going to go get another one just for this recipe.”

Pouring vinegar into soy sauce
Justin Lambert/Getty Images

9.“I replace the water with black coffee for almost all of the chocolate chip cookies I make from a boxed mix.”

The brownie mixture is prepared with a whisk

10.“I substitute shallots for onions 99% of the time. Shallots are so expensive! And sure, it elevates the dish, but I don’t bother with it unless I’m making something ✨fancy✨.”

Golden sautéed onions in a pan
Alexandra Peace/Getty Images

11.“I use coconut milk in any recipe that calls for heavy cream. I find coconut milk adds the perfect creaminess without changing the flavor too much.”

Making coconut milk curry
Marc Dufresne/Getty Images

12.“I often replace sour cream or mayonnaise with Greek yogurt in things like tuna or chicken salad. It’s not for health reasons or anything like that. I just love the tang the Greek yogurt adds to the dish.”

Chicken salad on lettuce
Rob Castro/Getty Images

13.“I use Worcestershire sauce in dishes that call for fish sauce and vice versa. For example, I use fish sauce in tomato-based pasta sauces and Worcestershire sauce in Southeast Asian dishes.”

Pour the soy sauce over the sauteed cauliflower
Dukai Photographer/Getty Images

14.“I never buy brown sugar. Instead, I just add molasses to the white sugar. This allows me to easily control the browning of the sugar.”

Baking mini apple pies

15.“Celery is the real devil’s lettuce. I always substitute diced green pepper when the recipe calls for it.”

Dice green pepper
Ciara Kimsey/Getty Images/iStockphoto

16.“I usually use croutons, soup crackers, or crushed Ritz crackers instead of breadcrumbs. I recently used croutons to bread a parmesan chicken and the result was amazing.”

Homemade breadcrumbs with herbs

17.“I never keep buttermilk in my fridge, but I almost always have heavy cream. I just mix a cup of buttermilk with 1 teaspoon of vinegar, then wait 15 minutes and voilà: a perfect buttermilk substitute.”

Pour the buttermilk into the flour and egg
Jack Andersen/Getty Images

18.“I use sunflower seeds as a cheaper alternative to pine nuts when I make homemade pesto. They’re about a quarter of the price but have a similar texture.”

Preparation of pesto with pine nuts and basil
Funwithfood / Getty Images

19.“When I bake, I sometimes replace an egg with mashed banana. The final product is moister and has a subtle, natural sweetness. Plus, you can eat as much of the raw dough or dough as you want!’

Mashing a banana in a bowl
The Picture Pantry/Getty Images/Alloy

20.“I use a creamy Italian dressing instead of mayonnaise. Try it when you make a BLT sandwich. This is the next level.”

A hand holding a BLT sandwich
Kcline/Getty Images/iStockphoto

21.“If I’m making a dish like chicken piccata or pasta puttanesca that calls for capers in the ingredients but I don’t have them on hand, I’ll finely chop green olives (like Castelvetrano or Manzanilla). Or you’ll substitute finely chopped dill or gherkins for pickles. All three give the dish the same salty, full-flavored kick.”

Pepperoni with capers and black olives
Antonio Busiello/Getty Images

22.“When a recipe calls for tahini and I don’t have any in my kitchen, I often use peanut butter instead. While peanut butter is common in Thai and Asian cuisine, you’ll often see tahini in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern recipes. Both have a nutty and creamy flavor and can be used more or less interchangeably if you only have one to make sauces, marinades, curries and even soups.

Thai peanut noodles
Ezumeimages/Getty Images/iStockphoto

23.“I personally hate green peppers, so I substitute them with poblanos. They have a much better flavor and no noticeable heat.”

Tacos with poblano peppers
Carlosrojas20/Getty Images/iStockphoto

24.“Try using coconut milk instead of water or stock when cooking rice. It makes rice taste amazing, especially when you use it in stir-fries and other rice-based dishes.”

Coconut rice in a sieve
Cavan Images / Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

25.“A lot of Japanese recipes tend to call for both mirin and sugar, but I don’t like too much sweetness in my savory dishes. I usually just substitute sake for both and call it a day.”

Chicken teriyaki over rice in a bowl
Penpak Ngamsathain / Getty Images

26.“I use half-and-half and skim milk for almost any dairy product a recipe might call for. Keeping half a dozen different liquid dairy products is tedious. Between half and half and skim milk, the two options pretty much cover my needs.”

Someone is making mashed potatoes
Elizabeth Watt/Getty Images

What is an ingredient substitution or recipe change that you use all the time in your home cooking? Tell us in the comments!

Note: Some answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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