The Ultimate Guide to Ingredient Substitutions for All Your Holiday Cooking

Ree Drummond Turkey - Food

Ree Drummond Turkey – Food

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Experts have warned that supply-chain issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic may impact your holiday dinner tables. Grocery store prices could be higher or things may just simply be out of stock — but having a backup plan (or two) is the key to stress-free cooking. Familiarize yourself with this list of ingredient substitutions and your holidays are sure to be merry and brightly flavored.

Meat and Cheese

Changing the cut of meat or type of cheese can subtly change the flavor of a dish, but these alternatives will still deliver great results.

Roast Turkey: Serve a whole roasted chicken or Cornish hen for intimate gatherings — or buy individual turkey parts.

Chicken Breast: Use other lean, mild meats like turkey cutlets or boneless pork chops.

Ground Beef: Sauté finely diced mushrooms with beef bouillon (about one crushed cube per pound of mushrooms).

Italian Sausage: Season any ground meat with dried Italian spices like fennel, garlic powder and oregano.

Bacon: Try other cured porks like salami or prosciutto seasoned with smoked paprika to mimic the smoky flavor.

Stew Meats: Tough cuts with long cooking times—like cubed beef chuck, pork butt and lamb shoulder—can be used interchangeably in braises and stews.

Salmon: Swap in other firm, fatty fillets like tuna, cod, mahi-mahi or swordfish.

Pepper Jack: Season Monterey Jack or white cheddar cheese with red pepper flakes.

Parmesan: Toss Romano cheese with toasted bread crumbs for that salty, nutty finish.

Ricotta: Pulse cottage cheese in the food processor for a smoother texture.

eggs in a carton

eggs in a carton



Making bread, cake and cookies is all about precision. These clever shortcuts will help when you run out of something essential.

All-Purpose Flour: Combine equal parts cake flour and bread flour for a similar texture.

Baking Powder: Mix baking soda with a pinch of cream of tartar or a squeeze of lemon juice.

Butter: Try applesauce or pureed avocado— the results will be slightly denser but still delicious.

Vanilla Extract: Use an equal amount of maple syrup.

Brown Sugar: Beat granulated sugar with molasses or honey (about 1 tablespoon per cup of sugar).

Eggs: Use 1 tablespoon mayonnaise for every egg in recipes for baked goods.

Oils: Neutral oils like canola, coconut, corn, peanut and vegetable are interchangeable. For olive oil, swap with avocado, sesame or sunfloweroils.

Cocoa Powder: Swap with hot chocolate mix, but then cut back on the sugar since its already sweetened.

Buttermilk: Mix whole milk with a splash of lemon juice or white vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes before using.

Sour Cream: Use Greek yogurt or mascarpone.

RELATED: How to Make Curtis Stone’s ‘No-Fuss’ Creole Roast Turkey and Gravy for Thanksgiving This Year

garlic and onions

garlic and onions



Many fresh vegetables have similar flavors, moisture content and cooking times, making them easy to replace.

Onions: When sauteed, red, yellow and white onions are interchangeable. Scallions and shallots work too.

Fresh Garlic: Use 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder for every 1 clove called for in a recipe.

Shallots: Swap an equal amount of minced red onion that’s been briefly soaked in water to mellow the flavor.

Arugula: Season baby spinach leaves with black pepper to mimic the subtle spice of the greens.

Sturdy Greens: Swap kale, collard greens, escarole and Swiss chard forone another in cooked preparations.

Potatoes: Look to otherfirm vegetables like parsnips, beets, carrots, turnips, butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Hearty Herbs: Rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme have an earthy flavor that can be used interchangeably in sauces and soups.

Tender Herbs: Fresh herbs like basil, parsley, mint and cilantro add a similar brightness.

RELATED: The Absolute Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Pantry Staples

Your cupboard staples often have multiple uses, so feel free to experiment.

Broth or Stock: Season water with your favorite liquid flavoring—white wine, beer and soy sauce all work great.

Bread Crumbs: Use crushed potato chips or crackers. Just cut back on salt since these substitutes have more sodium.

Vinegar: Substitute jarred pickle juice to add tang to dressings and sauces.

Wine: Mix 1 cup broth (beef for red wine; chicken for white wine) with 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

Warm Spices: Swap cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg with leftover apple pie or pumpkin spice.

Dried Herbs: Use fresh herbs— but since their flavor is less potent, use three times the amount.

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