Not having access to an ingredient can mean missing out on what you want and need; which is why we have designed this article to help you gain some knowledge about common substitutes for baking and cooking ingredients instead of just giving up in the middle of a recipe! In almost every case there is a substitute since most ingredients have substitutes; there are very rare occasions where you will have to give up.
We all have our own reason for sometimes wanting or needing to substitute ingredients in baking and cooking. Some people may have allergies to certain ingredients or some might not like the taste or flavour of those ingredients. You could even be halfway through a birthday cake and realise there are no more eggs left and you just don't have enough time and need to think of a substitute immediately! Either way, it's always good to have a few common substitutes up your sleeve for both cooking and baking.
As we well know, there's a whole lot of science behind baking and cooking. So with a little knowledge and information you can save yourself a trip to the grocery store and save a lot of time. Whether you memorize them or write them on a piece of paper or a notepad; some easy baking and cooking substitutes will definitely save you time when your in a dash.
History of substitution
Substitution of ingredients has been a common method for quite a while now. So lets go through some of the early substitution methods that were invented.
Back around the 1800's, breastfeeding was a big deal for women. Most women who didn't want to breastfeed would just hire somebody else to do it for them! This method was around for centuries, until Elijah Pratt came along and invented the "rubber nipple"; which was only around from 1845 to 1867. In 1867, the German chemist Justus von Liebig invented "Liebig’s Soluble Food for Babies" or in simpler words, baby formula. This crazy new invention was a powder that contained potassium bicarbonate, wheat flour, and malt flour; which was to be mixed with warm cow milk. In absolutely no time this new product became the word of the street because of its high level of convenience and became what today is a billion dollar industry.
As pointless as as it may sound, non-alcoholic beer is the perfect substitute for beer. Now you might probably think why should I spend money on beer that won't even get me drunk? Well for a starter, many people love drinking but it damages their health, so a beer with the same taste but no alcohol can be the first step to drinking less or quitting. Or more commonly, underage teenagers who would do anything for a drink. The production of non-alcoholic beer began in 1920; and this new creation also allowed brewers to stay open during the prohibition in 1920.
Whale grease is an great substitute for almost everything! This product is found in detergents, dyes, candles, lamps and a whole heap of other stuff! Some people even cook with it as a substitute for normal oil! The rise of this product was around 1916, since whale oil was the raw base ingredient for margarines, cooking oils and butter substitutes. Around the time of the first World War, the British consumption brought butter shortage, resulting in a rise of whale oil sales.
These were just some of the many substitutes which were used in the past and are still being used today.
Main reasons why we substitute ingredients
So why do we substitute so many things anyway? Substituting has been around for as long as humans; which is why there is definitely a reason and purpose behind it. Here are some of the reasons why substitution is such a common and loved method:
First and most obvious reason for substituting ingredients is that you can save a lot of money. This is especially used in companies where everything is made in bulk amounts and making profit is necessary. Some individuals also might be trying to save, so substituting for cheaper options may be helpful.
Substitution can be a great way to move towards a healthier diet and to get more nutrients in the body. People usually get advised by dietitians and professionals to substitute carbs, fats, and sugars for healthier alternatives.
For those who are allergic to gluten, nuts, and other ingredients substituting is a great way to avoid any issues and still eat some yummy food. For gluten free purposes, flour can be substituted with coconut or almond flour.
Lastly, who would want to go the shops in the middle of a recipe just to get two eggs? Isn't it just easier to find a substitute for the ingredient you're missing and save that shopping trip for later? All you have to do when you're missing something is to find a substitution chart off the internet and you're set to go!
Substitution of ingredients in the food industry
Companies are after the cheaper and more time efficient option; and substituting ingredients is a smart way of saving both money and time.
A common example in the food industry is the substitution of natural food dyes for artificial colours. Artificial food dyes have only been in the industry for two centuries; however during this time they have become the most time and money saving alternative for natural colours. Most food companies especially in the baking industry, have switched over to artificial dyes for their goods as it saves a lot of time and money.
The downside to this concept is that some companies and individuals may take advantage of this opportunity and use some products and ingredients which are harmful or not as healthy.
Every ingredient has its own role in a recipe, which is why it's really important that you know the exact amount to substitute for. For example a recipe may call for a cup of flour, but when substituted to almond or coconut flower the amount only needs to be 3/4 cup. This common issue with substituting the right amounts is exactly why baking and cooking substitutions charts exist.
All ingredients have different physical and chemical properties; which is why substituting can sometimes leave you with a different texture, weight, or taste. However, measuring accurately and using a reliable substitute chart will help minimise these changes and get you the best outcome.
What products can be substituted?
Substitution is a common thing that we all do in our everyday lives, and not just in baking and cooking. You might substitute Coke for Pepsi because it tastes better, or you might substitute apples in one store with apples from another store that sells them for a cheaper price. No matter what it is, we are constantly substituting things around; without even knowing it most the time!
Well for a starter, you can't substitute every single ingredient in a recipe because then you would end up with a completely different product! However, if you're allergic to gluten for instance, you can substitute the flour in the recipe with almond or coconut flour.
Healthy cooking substitutes
Substituting ingredients in cooking will help you minimise the amount of sugar, salt, fat and calories; and overall leave you with a healthier diet!
It may feel strange at first when substituting ingredients; but in a matter of no time your body will thank you. The use of different ingredients can also help you in mixing up your diet and getting all the nutrients your body needs. The list below contains just a few of the substitutes you can try in your journey towards a healthier diet!
Substituting saturated fats
Too much saturated fats will rise your chance of heart diseases and strokes because of the high level of cholesterol. As a healthier alternative, try to stick to the unsaturated fats. For example, substitute butter with mashed avocado, pumpkin puree, or unsweetened apple sauce! It may seem strange at first, but your body will thank you in the long term.
(You could also use some of these ingredients as a substitution of oil.)
Even though sour cream is a fan favourite ingredient, too much of it is unhealthy because of its high fat level. So try using Greek yoghurt instead which is naturally sour and lower in fat! If you are after a more sour flavour; add some lemon juice to your Greek yoghurt which also has digestion-aiding probiotics.
We all love our creamy foods and snacks, but too much of ingredients like mayonnaise and butter will result in too high cholesterol levels rising your chances of heart diseases! So what do we do? Well by far, the most delicious yet healthy solution is to substitute with avocados. Avocados give you that yummy creaminess while also providing healthy fats for your heart! They can be used in pastes, side dips, or in sandwiches and tacos!
Whole grain carbs
Substitute products such as white bread, rice, flour or pasta for their wholegrain versions.
Wholegrains are rich in:
- B vitamins
All of the benefits of wholegrain products will drive you towards a better long term health.
What can I substitute for baking ingredients?
Substituting is a BIG deal in the baking industry. Bakers are constantly swapping ingredients around to see which one has the best flavour and texture. Bakers also substitute a lot for their gluten free, dairy free, and vegan customers. If you are are striving to have a healthier diet, we have listed some healthy baking substitutes to help you in your journey.
Substitutions of oil
Oil is one of those ingredients which can be replaced very easily. If you can't get your hands on oil or want a less runny/oily texture try some of the following substitutes:
- apple sauce
- mashed banana
- melted butter
- pureed pumpkin
(Note: most of these listed ingredients are low in fat as well as being substitutes for oil)
Low-fat baking substitutions
Wouldn't it be amazing to eat some yummy cupcakes but not put on the weight? Well the best solution for this is to slide some low-fat baking substitutions into your recipes! Now you might be sitting there thinking "how do I make a cake not fatty?". Even though once you reduce the fat in sweets they may not taste the exact same, it still is the healthier alternative. There are various ways for you to easily reduce the fat in your baked goods. Here are the two most popular ones:
Yoghurt - Plain and Greek yoghurt are two of the most popular substitutes for fats in a recipe. However, keep in mind that yoghurt adds liquidity to the recipe, which is why you should only add a little bit and if not reduce the other liquids in the recipe to maintain balance.
Pureed fruits and vegetables - Most fruits and vegetables contain pectin, which acts similarly to fat in tenderizing sweets. Common fruit and vegetable purees that are used as fat substitutes are unsweetened apple sauce, mashed bananas, and pumpkin puree. For the best result, only substitute half the amount of fat in the recipe; this is because substituting 100% may have a bad impact on the flavour and texture.
Natural baking substitutes
Lastly, and by far the healthiest and most reliable option, natural substitutes. Now when substituting naturally, you have unlimited options to choose from which all benefit you and your health! For example, sugar can be easily replaced with stevia, which is known by the name "calorie free sugar" indicating it is definitely healthier.
A larger part of baking naturally is to avoid using artificial food dyes. The real question here is are food colours good or bad for your health? This argument is two sided and so far no one has proven that it is healthy or unhealthy. So why not avoid them over all to avoid the risk?
Instead of artificial colours, use the natural substitutes in the list below:
- Yellow - saffron, turmeric
- Red - beetroot powder
- Green - Matcha, spinach
- Orange - carrot juice
- Blue - red cabbage
- Pink - strawberries, raspberries
- Brown - coffee, tea, cocoa
- Purple - blueberries
A great example of an all natural bakery in Adelaide (Australia) is Azidelicious Cupcakes, who use only natural ingredients and dye all their cakes and cupcakes naturally! So if you're in Adelaide or know somebody in Adelaide who you want to send a yummy gift to, don't hesitate to contact Azidelicious on Instagram or Facebook, or simply have a look at their website! Taste the premium difference of nature with Azidelicious Cakes and Cupcakes!