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Sometimes you don’t have all the ingredients you need to make that perfect recipe. We are here to help you.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, we sometimes had to get creative with ingredients due to dietary restrictions or dietary preferences. If you’re following a recipe or looking to recreate one of your favorite dishes but don’t have the exact ingredients, there are some simple tips to achieve a similar result.

Whether you haven’t gone to the grocery store to replenish your pantry or your local supermarket doesn’t have what you need, there are ways to substitute some of the more popular ingredients in recipes.

We’ve put together a few substitution options to help you in the kitchen:

Don’t have a box of breadcrumbs handy in your pantry? If you have a loaf of bread, you can make your own by crushing dried bread in a food processor or crushing toast and torn into small pieces.

Another popular tip is to use crumbled crackers to satisfy the crunch and texture that traditional breadcrumbs provide in a recipe. If you have something like Wheat Thins or Cheez-Its, you can mash them up and add them to your dish.

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Want to cook but don’t have any butter? No problem. If you have a can of mashed pumpkin that collects dust in your pantry, you can use it in place of butter. Coconut oil may also suffice as an alternative to butter.

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Cake mix ingredients

A popular trend in the quarantine baking world is to replace eggs, oil, and other ingredients listed on the back of a box of cake mix with an unlikely product: a can of soda. Simply mix any type of carbonated soda with the dry cake mix and voila – you have a cake! The folks at Betty Crocker suggest using fruit sodas such as orange, grape, strawberry, or lemon-lime for best results.

For the canned brownie mix, mashed black beans can be used in place of butter or oil.


A variety of desserts and pastries require buttermilk, but it may not be easy to find when trying to get in and out of the grocery store quickly. Regular milk and a little white vinegar or lemon juice are a good substitute.

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Whole milk

Maybe you don’t want to buy a whole carton of whole milk, which is higher in fat than other types of milk, because it could spoil before you can use it all. If you have another type of milk on hand, fertilize it by adding melted butter.

As for the replacement of regular 2% milk, low in fat or skimmed, coconut milk and almond milk are often a very good substitute.

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Espresso powder

It may seem obvious, but finely ground coffee can replace powdered espresso. Try to stay away from coarsely ground coffee if you can help it.


Flax and chia seeds are popular egg substitutes in recipes, but they can be hard to find or expensive. Orange juice, applesauce, and canned pumpkin puree are simple options. If you are using a higher sugar substitute (like orange juice or applesauce), you should reduce the amount of added sugar in your recipe. Buying unsweetened applesauce is also an alternative.

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Lemons or limes

Although the fruit produces a fresher flavor and the rind of the rind gives a strong lemon or lime flavor, you can use store-bought bottled lemon or lime juice.

Mayonnaise and sour cream

Three words: plain Greek yogurt. While you might not want to spread Greek yogurt on your sandwich in place of mayonnaise, it works as an alternative in most other dishes.

Olive oil

Canola oil, avocado oil, or sunflower oil will do the trick. Sunflower oil has a similar smoke point, while canola oil provides a versatile base; Olive oil and avocado oil are full of oleic acid, a fatty acid that may provide health benefits.

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