Substitutes for the Most Common Ingredients

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We’ve all been there—right in the middle of preparing a recipe, past the point of no return, only to discover that we’re missing one of the ingredients. Sometimes, it’s fine to just leave it out, but in general, every ingredient serves a purpose, and to omit even one can throw off the balance of the entire dish. When time is of the essence and a trip to the store is not an option, we’ve got little choice but to work with what we’ve got. Fortunately, it’s usually possible to rescue a recipe by substituting other common household ingredients. Here are a few top swaps.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is often used to provide flavor and salt, especially in Asian dishes or those in need of a savory bite. Salt alone just isn’t the same, but in a pinch, Worcestershire sauce can be an effective substitute. Just mix ¼ cup of Worcestershire with about a tablespoon of water, then add the same amount to your recipe that you would have soy sauce.


Eggs can serve a variety of purposes in cooking, so the most appropriate substitute for eggs will depend on what you’re making. For baked goods, half a banana or ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce per egg will do the trick, while ¼ cup of silken tofu or 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise may be better for savory dishes.

Baking Powder

Fun fact: baking powder contains baking soda, but baking soda does not contain baking powder. The next time you find yourself fresh out of BP, know that you can easily make your own by blending 1 part baking soda with 2 parts cream of tartar or white vinegar. The combination of baking powder and acid generates carbon dioxide, which provides a leavening effect when added to baked goods.