Old-fashioned Substitutions

Photo by rpongsaj  / Rob Pongsajapan

I’m not usually a fan of making substitutions in recipes. Most of the substitutions I see are based on misguided ideas about what’s healthy.

That’s why I was so glad to see the last few pages of Favorite Recipes, published by the Women’s Fellowship of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Claridon, OH, in 1969. These substitutions were just in case you were out of one ingredient and couldn’t make it to the store.

For these You may use these
1 whole egg, for thickening or baking 2 egg yolks.
Or 2 tablespoons dried whole egg plus 2½ tablespoons water.
1 cup butter or margarine for shortening 7/8 cup lard, or rendered fat, with ½ teaspoon salt.
1 square (ounce) chocolate 3 or 4 tablespoons cocoa plus ½ tablespoon fat.
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder 1½ teaspoons phosphate baking powder.
Or 2 teaspoons tartrate baking powder.
Sweet milk and baking powder, for baking Equal amount of sour milk plus ½ teaspoon soda per cup. (Each half teaspoon soda with 1 cup sour milk takes the place of 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 cup sweet milk.)
1 cup sour milk, for baking 1 cup sweet milk mixed with one of the following:
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • or 1 ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup skim milk 4 tablespoons nonfat dry milk plus 1 cup water.
1 tablespoon flour, for thickening ½ tablespoon
  • cornstarch
  • potato starch
  • rice starch
  • or arrowroot starch

Or 1 tablespoon granulated tapioca.

1 cup cake flour, for baking 7/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, for baking breads Up to ½ cup bran, whole-wheat flour, or corn meal plus enough all-purpose flour to fill cup.

Got any other good ones?


  1. I swear by the Food Substitution Bible: http://www.amazon.com/Food-Substitutions-Bible-Ingredients-Techniques/dp/0778801195

    It’s come in handy on more than a few occasions.

  2. Margot Perry says:

    Here are a couple for Buttermilk.

    1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk PLUS 1-3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar

    1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk PLUS 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (mix and let stand for 10 minutes before using in recipe)

    1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

    1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup water PLUS 4 Tablespoons powdered buttermilk
    (reconstitute before using or add dry to dry ingredients and wet to wet ingredients before mixing

  3. I ran out of corn syrup a few months ago and have been using honey instead. So far it’s worked perfectly even for caramel corn!

  4. Sour milk–there’s something you don’t see anymore. Since pasteurized milk just goes bad instead of souring. I think all recipes that used to call for sour milk now call for buttermilk.

    • I wondered about that, but not enough to go look it up because I figured someone would chime in with the answer. Thanks for enabling my continued laziness.

  5. I use the sour milk substitution all the time!
    My Mama’s pancake recipe (which I believe came from Southern Living) uses buttermilk, which I never have.
    I use 1T of apple cider vinegar in 1c. of milk and let it sit for 10 minutes, like Margot mentioned.

    I have noticed that they are especially great if I actually use real buttermilk, but they are still regularly awesome if I use the substitution.

    The thickening…I almost always use cornstarch for my cheese sauces (for macaroni and cheese, potatoes au gratin, or over broccoli) but I always make my pan gravies with flour.
    However, it is worth mentioning that the only pan gravy I’m very good at is after frying up pork chops.

    Drew, could you maybe do a post on sausage gravy? I’ve about gotten biscuits down, but what’s a biscuit without gravy? 😉

    • Here you go: biscuits and sausage gravy. (Although those are sourdough biscuits, which Kristin and every Southerner in the U.S. will tell me are completely wrong.)

      • Excellent. Thanks, Drew!
        Look the Hillbilly Housewife up. They taught me how to make biscuits. I usually just make drop biscuits. They are just as tasty and a whole lot faster, though the rise is much more impressive when you cut them out. I’m thinking of brushing them with my bacon fat next time. :)
        I’m thinking of drop biscuits and a crock pot of warm sausage gravy at the next church brunch. That’ll be a hit, for sure!

      • Mmm … bacon.

  6. Wow, you found a old publication from 1969! I love buying old recipe books and magazine, they are so wonderful. I liked this list too. Many times, I do not like use substitute but it lot better than running to store at last minute.


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