5 Simple Recipe Substitutions

Mar 29 2012 - 11:24am

There's nothing worse than being elbow-deep in an exciting recipe, only to realize it calls for an ingredient you don't have. But there is a way around the situation that doesn't involve keeping your kitchen stocked with items you won't get much use out of. Read on for five slightly unusual ingredients many recipes call for and an easy substitution for each.

Source: Flickr User sleepyneko [1], Thinkstock [2], Flickr User missy & the universe [3]


If a recipe calls for: Shallots

You can substitute: A combination of garlic and white onion.

Shallots are closely related to onions and have a similar flavor, but have more pungency and depth than a standard onion. Toss a minced clove of garlic in with your onion for a pretty close approximation of shallot's flavor.

Source: Flickr User missy & the universe [4]


If a recipe calls for: Pancetta

You can substitute: Unsmoked bacon

Pancetta is also known as Italian bacon, so it stands to reason that you can sub in plain ol' bacon for its European counterpart. Be sure you're using an unsmoked bacon, though to match pancetta's flavor as nearly as possible and avoid overpowering your dish.

Source: Flickr User thebittenword.com [5]

Self-Rising Flour

If a recipe calls for: Self-rising flour

You can substitute: Flour, baking powder, and salt

Self-rising flour isn't really a special type of flour; it's just ground extra fine and has leavening agents added, which helps eliminate a couple steps as you're baking. You can re-create it [6] by adding one and a half teaspoons of baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of all-purpose flour.

Source: Thinkstock [7]

Meyer Lemon

If a recipe calls for: Meyer lemon

You can substitute: Half lemon, half orange

Meyer lemons are actually a hybrid between lemons and mandarin oranges. Their flavor is sweeter and milder than a regular lemon, but more tart than a standard orange. Mix equal parts lemon and orange juice (or zest, depending on your recipe) for a close match.

Source: Flickr User sleepyneko [8]


If a recipe calls for: Buttermilk

You can substitute: Regular milk with lemon juice [9]

Strange as it sounds, buttermilk is essentially fermented milk, which is made by adding acid to the milk. Create your own version by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk, let it sit for five minutes, then use as the recipe directs.

Source: Flickr User thebittenword.com [10]

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