Our cheat sheet of swaps will help you make that cake without a trip to the store.


Whether your reaching for an ingredient and realize you don't have it or just don't want to make a trip to buy a speciality ingredient you may never use again, use these baking substitutions instead. Consider this list a cheat sheet for stellar baked goods.

Credit: Bryan Gardner


Flour is a key ingredient in baked goods and all-purpose flour is the mainstay for home cooks. But every once in a while a recipe calls for a specialty flour such as self-rising, pastry, or bread flour. Skip the shopping trip and put all-purpose flour to work.

  • Cake flour: 1 cup = 1 cup - 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pastry flour: 1 cup = 1/2 cup all-purpose flour +  1/2 cup cake flour.
  • Self rising flour: 1 cup = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • Bread flour: Substitute bread flour one to one with all-purpose flour. Keep in mind that due to differences in protein levels, baked goods made with bread flour will have more structure and chewiness than those with all-purpose flour.
  • Gluten free flour: A test kitchen favorite for gluten-free baked goods is to substitute 1 cup Cup4Cup gluten-free flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

Once you've got the substitutions down, learn how to measure flour like the test kitchen team does-because not all flour measuring is equal.

Baking soda and baking powder
Credit: Clive Streeter


Baking soda and baking powder sound similar but swap these two or mix up the amounts and it becomes clear that these leaveners react very differently with the ingredients in the baked goods.

  • Baking powder: 1 teaspoon = 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
  • Baking soda: baking soda is a trickier swap, but in desperate moments if the recipe has acidic ingredients, such as sour cream, buttermilk, or cocoa powder, then it may suffice to swap out every 1 teaspoon of baking powder with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.
Credit: Romulo Yanes


The dairy aisle holds an array of products with varying fat levels and acidity, all of which affect the final baked good. Here are a few quick swaps to get from what might be in your refrigerator to what you need without buying another dairy item.

  • Whole milk: 1 cup = 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons skim milk + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Half and half: 1 cup = 1/2 cup whole milk + 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Buttermilk: 1 cup = 1 cup whole milk + 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice, combine and let sit until curdled, about 10 minutes


Fat adds flavor, richness, and moisture to baked goods, but all fats are not all equal. Try these substitutes.

  • Butter: 1 stick = 1 stick of margarine
  • Vegetable oil: 1 cup = 1 cup of neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed oil
  • Lard: 1 cup = 1 cup of vegetable shortening OR 1 cup of unsalted butter


Sugar isn't just sweet it also keeps baked goods tender and moist and using the right type makes a difference. Start with granulated sugar and you can adjust to recreate other common varieties.

  • Superfine sugar: 1 cup = 1 cup + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar ground in a food processor until fine
  • Powdered sugar: 1 cup = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon cornstarch ground in a food processor until powdery
  • Light brown sugar: 1 cup = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon molasses
  • Dark brown sugar: 1 cup = 1 cup granulated sugar + 2 tablespoon molasses
  • Molasses: 1 cup = 3/4 cup dark-brown sugar + 1/4 cup water
Vanilla bean and extract
Credit: Jonathan Lovekin

Other Ingredients

Here are swaps for some baking staples, you'll find them extremely helpful in a pinch.

  • Cream of tartar: 1/4 teaspoon = 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • Sour cream: 1 cup = 1 cup plain yogurt and vice versa
  • Lemon juice: 1 teaspoon = 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt: 1 teaspoon kosher salt = ½ teaspoon fine (table) salt
  • Vanilla beans: Seeds of 1/3 vanilla bean = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Vanilla extract: Try making your own or use the seeds of a 1/3 vanilla bean
  • Vegan egg substitute: A popular vegan substitute for eggs is to mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 2 tablespoons of water and let sit for 5 minutes for every 1 whole egg. This will bind the recipe similarly, but the baked good will have a different texture and flavor.


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