10 Easy Substitutions and Even Easier Recipes #SundaySupper

10 Easy Substitutions and Even Easier Recipes #SundaySupper

5 Ingredients or Less #SundaySupper

What are the deal breakers in a recipe? Is it the fresh herbs? Something that our market doesn’t stock? A wee amount of an expensive liqueur? Or maybe it’s simply something you don’t have in the pantry.

Don’t let your lack of dough, availability or a paltry pantry stop you from trying a recipe. Remember, a recipe is a road map, and sometimes there are other ways to get to the final destination. Yes, shallots have a more delicate taste than a yellow onion, but your guests will hardy know the difference when the latter is sauteed and added to a quiche.

Almost any recipe is doable if you master the art of easy substitutions. Here are 10 to get you started:

1. The recipe calls for Grand Marnier. Substitute orange juice concentrate or simmer orange juice until it’s reduced by half.

2. The recipe calls for panko bread crumbs. Yes, the Japanese bread crumbs are larger and result in a flakey, light crunch, still you can sub the dried, plain bread crumbs you have on hand.

3. The recipe call for fresh herbs. How lucky if you’re resourceful enough to have an herb garden. For some of us, though, the price of a packet of fresh herbs seems high when we just need a tablespoon. (And there’s always the risk of letting the leftovers turn into a yucky science project in the fridge.) For many dishes, dried herbs will work fine. Just remember that dried herbs are three times more potent than fresh. If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, use 1 teaspoon dried. And add them during cooking. They need the heat and moisture to refresh.

4. The recipe calls for mascarpone. A mixture of 8 ounces cream cheese and 3 tablespoons sour cream mimics the rich Italian cream cheese.

5. The recipe calls for creme fraiche. Use sour cream or Greek yogurt.

6. The recipe calls for leeks. Sliced scallions or thinly sliced onions will do (unless you are making leek soup).

7. The recipe calls for grated asiago cheese. Parmesan or Romano are adequate stand-ins.

8. The recipe calls for mace, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice. These spices are nearly interchangeable in baked goods. If you’ve got two of the five, you’ll be fine most of the time. Buy small quantities at natural food stores or the smallest container at the grocery store.

9. The recipe calls for balsamic vinegar. In a pinch and for most dishes, red wine vinegar will work.

10. The recipe calls for a vanilla bean. Two teaspoons of  real vanilla extract has the same punch a 1 pricey vanilla bean.

Embracing substitutions is an important notion in cooking, and some of these suggestions might help you as you peruse today’s Five Ingredients or Less Recipes from the Sunday Supper tastemakers. (Water, salt, pepper, and oil are “freebies” that do not count as ingredients.) From pasta dishes to slow cooker entrees to delicious sweet treats to enticing appetizers, you’ll be inspired to try something new.

Join us around the Twitter table at 7 p.m. ET tonight when T.R. of Gluten Free Crumbley leads the weekly discussion. We promise it will be an hour well spent.


Appetizers and Snacks

Main Dish

Side Dish


Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Janet K. Keeler

Award-winning journalist Janet K. Keeler was the longtime food and travel editor of the Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, Fl. She is now an assistant professor of journalism and food writing at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Janet retired from daily newspaper journalism in April 2015, ending a 35-year career. She has been a news reporter, copy desk chief, and features editor. She is also the author of “Cookielicious: 150 Fabulous Recipes to Bake & Share,” which was published in 2010 by Seaside Publishing.

Posted on

May 31, 2015


  1. Renee

    What a handy list of substitutions. I need to print this out and keep it in my kitchen.

  2. Nichole

    All such great tips! Especially the mascarpone!

  3. Liz

    Wonderful tips! It never fails that at least once a week, I’m missing one ingredient from a recipe 🙂

  4. Tara

    Great theme this week and it was much fun sharing our recipes!!

  5. Cindy Kerschner

    Great tips! I’ve used several of these before I’ll add the new tips to my list!

  6. Sarah

    Great tips!



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