There are many reasons to use baking substitutes—you’ve run out of an ingredient, you’re baking for a loved one with a food allergy, you want to experiment in the kitchen. And if you’re wondering “why do baking substitutions work?” the answer is that they are able to achieve the desired result by preserving the chemistry of the recipe with alternative ingredients or processes. 

Whether you’re on the hunt for a baking soda substitute or cooking wine substitute, look no further than this list!

cream pie
Regardless of your recipe, there’s a baking substitution you can use!

Baking Soda

Baking powder is an excellent substitute for baking soda. You’ll need triple the amount that the recipe calls for—for example, use 3 teaspoons of baking powder for every 1 teaspoon of baking soda. 

Baking Powder

Baking soda or cream of tartar is the best choice for a baking powder substitute, and you’ll use about ⅓ of the amount that the recipe calls for. 

You can also use egg whites as a substitute for baking powder. Pour them into a measuring cup and omit the same amount of liquid ingredients from your recipe.


For a cornstarch substitute, use either all-purpose or wheat flour—and double the amount, since flour does not have the thickening power of cornstarch. For a 1:1 substitute, arrowroot powder works well, too. 


Yeast can be substituted by mixing an equal amount of both baking soda and lemon juice. For 2 tablespoons of yeast, use 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Without the yeast activation time, this also means that your baked goods will start rising immediately, eliminating the proofing period for breadmaking


You can use unsweetened applesauce, avocado, vegetable oil, or greek yogurt as baking substitutions for butter. They don’t have the same fat content as butter, so use about half of the amount to keep your bakes from being too wet. 


When it comes to substitutions for shortening in baking, butter is the simplest swap. Use about 2 additional tablespoons of butter per cup of shortening. If your recipe calls for melted shortening, use vegetable oil in the same amount. 


There are tons of substitutions for sugar in baking—try stevia, agave, palm sugar, or monkfruit sweetener in the same amount the recipe calls for. You can also use molasses, honey, or maple syrup—but if you choose one of these non-granular substitutes, decrease the amount by about ¼ cup to ½ cup to offset the amount of liquid. 

Brown Sugar

Make your own brown sugar by mixing 1 tablespoon of molasses into 1 cup of white sugar. Duplicate this mixture until you have the amount needed. Muscovado sugar, which also contains molasses, is another excellent choice. 

Need Gluten Free Substitutes?

Going Gluten Free: Mastering a Versatile, Delicious Cake for All Diets


Mashed bananas, applesauce, silken tofu, and buttermilk are the best substitutions for eggs when baking. 1 large egg amounts to about ¼ cup of liquid so, whichever substitution you use, stick to ¼ cup for each egg the recipe calls for. 

Sour Cream

Plain regular or Greek yogurt is the best sour cream substitute baking choice. Best of all, the consistency and fat content of yogurt is similar, so you can use a 1:1 ratio. 


Butter, ghee, and mayonnaise can all serve as substitutions for oil in baking. Melt butter or ghee for a 1:1 substitution, and decrease the amount by about ¼ cup if you prefer to use mayonnaise. 


If you’re looking for a milk substitute, baking with a milk alternative like soy or nut milk is great for vegans. Otherwise, you can use sour cream or yogurt in an equal amount. This will affect the density of your bake, so you may need to thin it out with a little water. 

Vanilla Extract

Try maple syrup, almond extract, or even bourbon in place of vanilla. These choices are a little more strongly flavored than vanilla, so remember to use them sparingly! 


Out of flour? Try chickpea flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour, or coconut flour. Some flour substitutes are denser than white, all-purpose flour, so remember that you may need to add extra liquid!


Corn syrup, honey, or maple syrup are all 1:1 molasses substitutes. You can also use ¾ cup of packed brown sugar or a mixture of ¾ cup white flour and ¼ cup plain water. 

Cooking Wine

Cooking wine substitutes include wine vinegars, berry fruit juice, ginger ale, or broth. Because they are all liquids, you can adhere to a 1:1 ratio. 

Looking for a Recipe That Works Well With Baking Substitutions?

Classic Carrot Cake From Scratch

Written by:

Sara Glover