We’ve all been there – you stock up at the grocery store, get home, and find that you forgot paprika or another critical spice. Or, maybe you’re in the mood to whip up a stew in your Stock Pot but are missing vegetable stock. Over the past few months, this happens to us almost weekly and we’ve had to get resourceful with what’s in our pantries. So, we compiled a cheat sheet of basic substitutions for when you just can’t leave the house again.
When considering spice swaps, think about the notes you’re trying to add to your dish. Does it need more peppery flavor (e.g. allspice, ground ginger)? More warmth (e.g. cinnamon, paprika, cumin)? When you’re experimenting with spices, build and layer flavor by seasoning lightly at each step of the process. This will give you greater control of the final result.
- Cardamom – substitute ginger
- Cinnamon – substitute nutmeg
- Coriander – substitute ground caraway seed or cumin
- Cajun spice – substitute equal parts white pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, or onion powder
- Paprika – substitute ancho powder or mild chili powder
- Chili powder – substitute a blend of paprika, cumin, or cayenne (adjust according to your spice preference)
- Cayenne – substitute crushed red pepper
- Ginger – substitute allspice, cinnamon, or nutmeg
- Mustard – substitute wasabi powder (using 1/4 to 1/2 of the called for amount)
- Saffron – substitute a dash of turmeric
- Sage – substitute poultry seasoning, savory, marjoram, or rosemary
When substituting herbs, be mindful that dried herbs are far more potent than fresh. As a rule of thumb, swap one teaspoon of dried for one tablespoon of fresh chopped herbs. For more quick tips on herbs, check out our Herbs 101 cheat sheet here.
- Basil – substitute oregano or thyme
- Mint – substitute basil or rosemary
- Parsley – substitute chervil or cilantro
- Chives – substitute half the amount called for with finely chopped onions or leeks
- Oregano – substitute thyme, basil, or marjoram
- Thyme – substitute basil, marjoram, or oregano
- Rosemary – substitute thyme or sage
- Bay leaves – substitute Herbes de Provence, oregano, rosemary, sage, or thyme
Condiments & Pantry Staples
Condiment substitutions can be tricky, as they tend to alter your dish's flavor and moisture content slightly. Make sure to taste as you go and balance out flavors when necessary. For example, swapping Worcestershire sauce for soy sauce and sugar will produce a nice result, but may require you to tone down the amount of salt used in your dish.
- Tomato paste – substitute 2 tbsps tomato purée or tomato sauce and reduce other liquid in the recipe by 2 tbsps
- White vinegar – substitute 1/3 cup lemon juice for 1/4 cup white vinegar
- Red wine vinegar – substitute 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar plus 1/4 cup red wine
- White wine – substitute lemon juice diluted with a little water or chicken broth
- Stock – substitute water seasoned with beer or white wine
- Worcestershire Sauce – substitute soy sauce, using half of the called for amount and a few pinches of sugar for sweetness
- Mayonnaise – substitute 2 thin slices of avocado, 1 tbsp of Greek or plain yogurt for 1 tbsp of mayonnaise
- High smoke point/neutral oils – use coconut oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, and vegetable oil