Snow Day Hacks – Emergency Substitutions for Pantry Ingredients

The following is a guest post from Cheri of Kitchen Simplicity. Welcome, Cheri!

This winter has been a harsh one for so many people. We’re being bitten by the baking bug on a regular basis, almost out of necessity – our homes need warmth, our bodies need nourishment and our souls need comforting.

The problem with being snowed in, is that when the desire for baking strikes you can’t get to the store to pick up all the items you need, and that always seems to be the time that, that basic ingredient, that you always have on hand just happens to run out.

I present to you your snow day saving grace – kitchen hacks for pantry staples. These are not meant to be used on a regular basis but are great in a pinch. You can substitute the basics and still get delicious results without having to run to the grocery store in a blizzard.



1 cup Heavy Cream

  • 2/3 cup whole milk + 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (this substitution is not meant for whipping)

1 cup Half and Half

  • 1/2 cup light cream + 1/2 cup whole milk

1 cup Light Cream

  • 3/4 cup milk + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Evaporated milk

  • equal parts half and half, light cream, or heavy cream


1 cup Sour Cream

  • 1 cup plain yogurt or creme fraiche
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk + 1/3 cup butter

1 cup Buttermilk

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar + enough milk to equal 1 cup (let sit for 5-10 minutes to curdle)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

1 cup Creme Fraiche

  • 1 cup heavy cream + 1 tablespoon yogurt (with active cultures). Let sit at room temp for 6 hours.
  • 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt

1 cup Plain Yogurt

  • 1 cup sour cream, buttermilk, or creme fraiche
  • 1 cup heavy cream + 1 tablespoon lemon juice


1/2 cup Salted Butter

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter + 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • to use salted butter in place of unsalted, remove 1/4 teaspoon salt from the recipe

Lard, Margarine, Vegetable Shortening

  • equal amounts of butter


1 cup Mascarpone Cheese

  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese beaten with 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup ricotta cheese

  • 1 cup dry curd cottage cheese

1 cup Cream Cheese

  • 1 cup cottage cheese pureed until smooth + 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup yogurt strained in cheesecloth overnight

Kitchen Hacks PortraitAll photos by Cheri



1 teaspoon Baking Powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Cream of Tartar

  • equal amounts white vinegar or lemon juice

4 leaves of sheet Gelatin

  • 1 (1/4 oz.) envelope powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoons powdered gelatine
  • 2 teaspoons agar agar

1 tablespoon instant tapioca

  • 1.5 tablespoons flour

1 (1/4 oz) envelope Active Dry Yeast

  • 2.5 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast
  • 1 cake compressed yeast


1 cup Cake Flour

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cups Pastry Flour

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup Bread Flour

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon wheat gluten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (it just won’t be as chewy)

1 cup Self-Rising Flour

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1.5 teaspoons baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt


1 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or oil

1 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate

  • 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate + 4 teaspoons sugar

Bittersweet and Semi-sweet Chocolate are Interchangeable
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder

  • 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate

3 tablespoons Dutch Process Cocoa Powder

  • 3 tablespoons regular cocoa powder + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda


1/4 cup strong coffee

  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso + 2 tablespoons hot water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar (when needed for acidity not flavour)
  • 1 tablespoon other citrus juice such as lime, or orange (when needed for flavour not acidity)


Light Corn Syrup

  • equal amount of liquid honey

Golden Syrup

  • equal amount of light molasses

1/2 cup maple sugar

  • 1 cup maple syrup – decrease liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup
  • 3/4 cup sugar + 1 teaspoon pure maple extract

Superfine or berry sugar

  • equal amount of granulated sugar processed in the food processor to make finer crystals

Maple syrup – Honey – Molasses

  • are each interchangeable with each other, keeping in mind they will change the flavours considerably, so you may not wish to do this if they are the star flavour.

1 cup Brown Sugar

  • 1 cup white sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 cup raw sugar

1 cup Molasses

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar + 1 teaspoon cream of tartar


1 Vanilla Bean

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon Allspice

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ginger + 1/4 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg + 1/8 teaspoon allspice + dash cloves

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice

Cloves – Ginger – Allspice – Nutmeg

  • interchangeable for each other

1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ginger + 1/4 teaspoon allspice + 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg





  • equal amounts crushed cracker crumbs, crushed cornflakes, or ground oats

1 teaspoon Arrowroot starch

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup tomato juice

  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce + 1/2 cup water

1 cup tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup tomato paste + 1/2 cup water

1 cup Mayonnaise

  • equal amounts of sour cream or plain yogurt


1 tablespoon Fresh Ginger

  • 1.5 teaspoons ground ginger + 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 Garlic Clove

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon Fresh Herbs

  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs

1 teaspoon Hot Pepper Sauce

  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper + 1 teaspoon vinegar

1 cup Ketchup

  • 1 cup tomato sauce + 1 teaspoon vinegar + 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoons Prepared Mustard

  • 1 tablespoon dried mustard powder + 1 teaspoon water + 1 teaspoon vinegar + 1 teaspoon sugar


  • equal parts turmeric

2 tablespoons Soy Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce + 2 teaspoons water + pinch salt

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce + dash hot pepper sauce & lemon juice + pinch sugar

1/2 cup wine (for cooking)

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar and enough stock to fill to 1/2 cup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and enough apple juice to fill to 1/2 cup

What are your favourite emergency ingredient substitutions?

About Cheri

Cheri is a mother of two and a Canadian expat living in Norway. With a passion for quick and simple food, Cheri shares recipes, tips and tricks on her food blog,

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  1. This list is AWESOME! Thank you!

  2. This list is a life saver! A must have!!

    Amazed right now~

  3. nice recipes having great use in my lyf thankx for sharing

  4. This list is a keeper! Some of these things I never have in my house (like cake flour)…generally are they ok to substitute regularly or is it really emergency situations only? Thanks!

    • Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity says

      Some of these I substitute on a regular basis and others only if I find myself without an ingredient. I prefer to use the original when I can, just because it generally gives the best results. That being said, if you like the end results using a substitute, there’s nothing wrong with using it on a regular basis. 🙂

  5. This is a really amazing comprehensive list. I kept expecting it to end – because usually lists like this are just baking ingredients – but it covers so much. Thank you thank you thank you!

  6. Fantastic list! Thank you, Cheri!

  7. A Life From Scratch says

    What an awesome list to have on hand! Thank you so much!

  8. Such a great reference. This has been such a long winter, nice to know you don’t have to run out to get some missing ingredients all of the time. Just the thought of shoveling the driveway clear, clearing off the car, driving down the icy, snowy streets to pick up one or two things drives me crazy. The subs for baking are good ones too.

  9. If a recipe calls for just a tablespoon or so of tomato paste and I don’t want to open a whole can that I know I won’t use up quickly, I’ll sub ketchup in.

  10. Great list, one of the biggest I’ve seen. Saving it for future reference. One substitution I often find myself using that I didn’t see on the list is using a bit of ground flax seeds mixed with water in place of eggs. It works great in a pinch if you need eggs for binding something together!

  11. delaphine says

    Thanks so much for this list, what a life saver it is now printed out, laminated and on the back of my pantry door

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