Substitutions, Weights & Equivalents…sounds like my old science homework

Martha Stewart’s “Cooks Helpers” in my previous post got me thinking about emergency substitutions. For example: what happens if I need a cup of heavy cream, but don’t have any? What if a recipe calls for brown sugar, but I only have white? Is there a substitution for molasses if I don’t have any for my baked beans or cookies? {Perish the thought!} If I have only all-purpose flour, can I make it work if the recipe clearly calls for cake flour? I think you get the picture. A good substitution list is something I could really use when I’m in the middle of a recipe before I realize I’m out of something. Luckily, there are substitutions for just about anything. And since Al Gore invented the Internet (thank you kindly, sir), information is now at our fingertips. Unfortunately, it’s not always in the same place. After a little searching, here are a few I think are useful.


Baking Powder (1 tsp.) – sift together ¼ tsp. baking soda & ½ tsp. cream of tartar; use immediately

Brown Sugar, Light (1 cup) – process 1 cup granulated sugar & 1 Tbsp. molasses in a food processor

Brown Sugar, Dark (1 cup) – process 1 cup granulated sugar & 2 Tbsp. molasses in a food processor

Buttermilk (1 cup) – combine 1 cup of milk with 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice or white vinegar; let stand for 10 minutes before using; use in cooked applications only, not raw (such as Ranch dressing)

Chocolate, Unsweetened (1 oz.) – blend 3 Tbsp. of cocoa powder with 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil

Flour, Cake (1 cup) – measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour; remove 2 Tbsp. and replace them with 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch; sift before using

Flour, Self-Rising (1 cup) – measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour; add 1 ½ tsp. baking powder & 1/8 tsp. salt

Flour, Whole Wheat (1 cup) – measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour; remove 2 Tbsp. and replace them with 2 Tbsp. of wheat germ

Half-and-Half (1 cup) – combine ¾ cup whole milk and ¼ cup heavy cream OR blend 2/3 cup skim milk with 1/3 cup heavy cream

Herbs, Fresh (1 Tbsp.) – use 1 tsp. of the same herb, dried

Milk, Whole (1 cup) – combine ¾ cup of 2% milk and ¼ cup half-and-half

Molasses (1 cup) – blend ¾ cup dark brown sugar with ¼ cup water

Wine (1/2 cup) – combine ½ cup of broth & 1 tsp. of lemon juice; add just before serving

And what if you don’t have a kitchen scale (don’t gasp, bakers), but your recipe is listed in ounces? Fear not. Here’s a basic guide to help you avoid a disaster.

Flour, All-Purpose (1 cup) = 5 ounces
Flour, Whole Wheat (1 cup) = 5.5 ounces
Sugar, White (1 cup) = 7 ounces
Sugar, Brown & Packed (1 cup) = 7 ounces
Sugar, Powdered (1 cup) = 4 ounces
Cocoa Powder (1 cup) = 3 ounces

That doesn’t cover everything, but it gets you started. One last helpful list:

3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
4 tablespoons = ¼ cup
8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup = 4 fluid ounces
16 tablespoons = 1 cup = 8 fluid ounces
2 cups = 1 pint = 16 fluid ounces
4 cups = 2 pints = 1 quart = 32 fluid ounces
4 quarts = 1 gallon = 128 fluid ounces

Okay, I’m done. I don’t know about you, but I’m printing this and posting it in my spice cabinet with Martha’s Helpers. You never know when it might come in handy. And it might eliminate some of the cursing that comes out of my kitchen. Maybe. No guarantees. But there’s hope. Sort of. Maybe not. I’ll try. I promise.



Filed under Food & Recipes

6 responses to “Substitutions, Weights & Equivalents…sounds like my old science homework

  1. Wow, how long did it take you to compile that list? Very handy, indeed!

  2. Awesome list! I’m always looking for a substitute for buttermilk! Thanks for posting all of them!

  3. You are an Equivalence Rock Star! I am definitely going to print this one, because if I’m elbow deep in a recipe, and I discover I’m out of a pantry staple, swearing will follow. At least in my head, anyway. I wouldn’t want to teach the kiddos too many new words in one day. I let their Daddy handle that when they help him with DIY projects. ;)

    God Bless Al Gore for giving us access to useful information.

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