These last-minute swaps for eight key cooking ingredients mean you'll never have to rush out to the grocery store again.
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We've all been there: apron (and music) on and ready to cook, only to realize we're out of a crucial ingredient. With these clever swaps for eight common flavor builders, you can save yourself the grocery dash. Use an equal amount in your recipe (unless otherwise noted below), and make do—deliciously.

illustration of kosher salt
illustration of table salt
Left: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski
Right: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski

The Best Substitute for Kosher Salt

It amplifies the flavor of everything it touches (especially the big flakes of Diamond Crystal, which we reach for), whether you add a generous pinch to cookie dough or a hefty pour to pasta water. If you find you're out of kosher salt, you can use 1/2 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt to replace every 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt.

illustration of shallots
illustration of yellow onion
Left: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski
Right: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski

The Best Substitute for Shallots

The petite, bronze-skinned alliums lend subtle sweetness and a slight bite to vinaigrettes, salads, and braised dishes—think onion meets garlic. But if you're out of shallots, what should you do? Red or white onions or leeks, plus a pinch of minced garlic, make for a good replacement.

illustration of soy sauce
illustration of fish sauce
Left: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski
Right: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski

The Best Substitute for Fish Sauce

This South Asian staple offers bright, briny notes and deep umami (i.e. flavor that's intensely savory and fishy, in a good way) to soups, stews, and stir-fries. If you don't have any fish sauce on hand, reach for equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar, mixed with 1 minced anchovy.

illustration of tomato paste
illustration of ketchup
Left: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski
Right: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski

The Best Substitute for Tomato Paste

It intensifies any tomato sauce. You can also fry a spoonful with aromatics for a hint of sweetness and acidity when cooking a pot roast or stew. No tomato paste in the pantry? Grab the ketchup! You could also simmer down double the amount of marinara sauce.

illustration of capers
illustration of chopped green olives
Left: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski
Right: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski

The Best Substitute for Capers

You get salty, tangy, floral bites when you sprinkle them on salads or toss them with roasting vegetables halfway through the cook time. Lemon-caper sauce is classic on chicken piccata or fish. If you're out of capers, though, all is not lost. Substitute chopped mild green olives, mild pickled peppers, or pickles in their place.

illustration of dijon mustard
illustration of spicy brown mustard
Left: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski
Right: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski

The Best Substitute for Dijon Mustard

The condiment delivers spice, tang, and vinegary punch. Stir it into a pan sauce to thicken the consistency, or whisk it with oil and vinegar to emulsify and enrich a salad dressing. If you're out of dijon, grainy or spicy brown mustard, or even horseradish in a pinch, make for good replacements.

illustration of tender herbs
illustration of tender herbs
Left: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski
Right: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski

The Best Substitute for Tender Herbs

This delicate family includes parsley, cilantro, dill, mint, basil, and chervil. Showered over salads, soups, or cooked meat, they add lively, aromatic notes. If you're out of the herb your recipe calls for, replace it with the same amount of another tender herb instead.

Illustration of Hardy Herbs
illustration of capers
Right: Credit: Illustration by Danielle Golinski

The Best Substitute for Hardy Herbs

Thyme, oregano, rosemary, and marjoram taste subtly sweet and woodsy. Throw a few sprigs into a pan of roasting chicken or vegetables, or sauté them, chopped, with mirepoix for a soup or stew. If you don't have the hardy herb you need, an equal amount of another hardy herb, or half the amount of dried, will work as a subsitution.

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