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 an ingredient. It happens to the best of us. Well, luckily, there are plenty of delicious and creative recipe swaps and substitutions that work just as well—if not better.

Stirring the risotto in a panStirring the risotto in a pan

Paolo Gagliardi/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

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

Preparation of Bolognese saucePreparation of Bolognese sauce

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

Preparing quinoa in a pot on the stovePreparing quinoa in a pot on the stove
Jan Mach / Getty Images/iStockphoto

3.“I live in Singapore, where it’s almost impossible to get all those peppers—serranos, pimentos, Anaheim, bananas—you just can’t find them. I always just use generic green chiles or jalapeños.”

Slice peppers for guacamoleSlice peppers for guacamole
Charmian Perkins/Getty Images

4.“I think Guanciale is impossible to get for a reasonable price, so I just use ham or pancetta instead.”

Spaghetti Carbonara.Spaghetti Carbonara.
Gianfranco Carraca/Getty Images

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

Etouffée with green onionsEtouffée with green onions

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

Panko coated salmonPanko coated salmon
Candice Bell/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Cutting butter for bakingCutting butter for baking
Miniseries / Getty Images

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

Pouring vinegar into soy saucePouring vinegar into soy sauce
Justin Lambert/Getty Images

9.“I replace water with black coffee for almost every chocolate baked good I’m making from boxed mixes.”

Brownie mix being prepared with a whiskBrownie mix being prepared with a whisk

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

Golden fried onions in a panGolden fried onions in a pan
Alexandra Piss / Getty Images

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

Making coconut milk curryMaking coconut milk curry
Marc Dufresne/Getty Images

12.“I often substitute yogurt or mayonnaise for Greek yogurt in things like tuna or chicken salad. It’s not for health reasons or anything. I just like the flavor Greek yogurt gives a dish.”

Salad with chicken in lettuceSalad with chicken in lettuce
Rob Castro/Getty Images

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

Pour soy sauce over fried cauliflowerPour soy sauce over fried cauliflower
Dukai Photography / Getty Images

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

Baking mini apple piesBaking mini apple pies

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

Dice the green pepperDice the 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 bake chicken parmesan and the result was amazing.”

Homemade Herb CrumbsHomemade Herb Crumbs

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

Tossing the buttermilk into the flour and eggsTossing the buttermilk into the flour and eggs
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 the cost, but a similar texture.”

Making pesto with pine nuts and basilMaking pesto with pine nuts and basil
Funwithfood / Getty Images

19.“When baking, I’ll sometimes replace an egg with a mashed banana. The end product is moister and has a subtle natural sweetness. Plus, you can eat as much of the dough/raw batter as you like!”

Mash the banana in a bowlMash the banana in a bowl
Image Credit / Getty Images / Alloy

20.“I use creamy Italian dressing instead of mayo. Try it when you’re making a BLT sandwich. It’s next level.”

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

21.“If I’m making a meal 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). I’ll either substitute chopped dill pickles or cornichon. All three add the same salty, flavor-packed edge to a dish.”

Bell pepper peperonata with copper and black olivesBell pepper peperonata with copper and black olives
Antonio Busiello/Getty Images

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

Thai Peanut NoodlesThai Peanut Noodles
Ezumeimages / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

poblano pepper tacospoblano pepper tacos
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 sieveCoconut rice in a sieve
Cavan Images / Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

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

Teriyaki chicken over rice in a bowlTeriyaki chicken 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. Carrying half a dozen different liquid dairy products is annoying. Between half-and-half and skim milk, both options almost cover my needs.”

making mashed potatoesmaking mashed potatoes
Elizabeth Watt/Getty Images

What’s an ingredient substitution or recipe tweak you use all the time in your home cooking? Tell us in the comments!

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

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