A Guide to Ingredient Substitutes

If you’re running low on some key baking ingredients and your local supermarket is looking a little bare. Use our handy guide below for some baking ingredient substitutions. Not all substitutes are perfect, but they work well if you’re in a bind!

Q: I don’t have any eggs, what can I use instead?

A. Eggs can be one of the hardest ingredients to replace in baking. As a rough guide, replace 1 egg with one of the following:
–  ¼ cup of Greek yogurt
–  ¼ cup silken tofu
–  ¼ cup mashed banana (approx 1/2 a banana)
–  ¼ cup apple sauce
–  ¼ cup peanut butter
–  1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water (allow to absorb – 15 minutes)
–  1 tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water (allow to absorb – 15 minutes)

Q: What’s the difference between plain flour and self-raising flour? Can I make my own self-raising flour?

A: Self-raising flour contains baking powder, whereas plain flour does not. It’s easy to make your own self-raising flour, simply add 2 tsp of baking powder to every cup (150g) of plain flour.

Q: Can I use bicarb soda 1:1  instead of baking powder?

A: No – since bicarb soda needs an additional acidic ingredient from your cake mix to activate, you cannot substitute it directly for baking powder.

If you only have bi-carb soda: reduce the amount called for in the recipe by ⅔ and add an acidic ingredient to activate it in the same way as baking powder. Swap out or add one of the following: Swap milk for buttermilk, white sugar for brown sugar or add 2-3 tsp of vinegar or lemon juice to your batter.

If you have some cream of tartar, this works too. For each tsp of baking powder in your recipe use ¼ tsp of bi-carb and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar.

Q: My recipe calls for espresso power or instant coffee, can I leave it out?

A: Most recipes, particularly chocolate recipes, call for a teaspoon or two of espresso powder. Why? To enhance the rich, earthy flavour profile of the chocolate. You can rarely taste the coffee in the final dessert, so if you’d prefer to leave it out, the good news is that an extra teaspoon or two of Queen Vanilla Extract works the same way!

Q: Can I use glucose in place of corn syrup?

A: Glucose is an ideal substitute for corn syrup. Keep in mind that there is a slight difference in viscosity, so your batter or recipe may seem slightly thicker before baking. Have you got a jar of glucose that needs using up? Read our blog for ten ways to put it to good use!

Q: Which Vanilla should I use in my recipe? Extract, Paste or Pods?

A: Consistency and intensity are the most important things to consider when choosing the best vanilla for your recipe. The type of vanilla will also depend on whether your recipe is a low fat, high fat or low liquid recipe. Read more about how to choose the correct vanilla for your recipes here.

Q: I don’t have any buttermilk, can I substitute or make my own buttermilk?

You sure can! To make your own buttermilk:
–  Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into one cup of full cream milk.
–  Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes before adding it to your batter.

Adding an acid both denatures and then binds the milk proteins together, leaving the milk to take on a curdled appearance. While this won’t give you a true cultured buttermilk, it will give you an acidified milk which is often all the recipe needs.

Alternatively, if you have some sour cream or yoghurt on hand, use ⅔ of a cup of either and thin out with ⅓ of milk to make a full cup.

Q: Can I use sour cream instead of Greek yoghurt?

If you’re in a pinch and only have sour cream – go for it! Sour cream is slightly thicker and more tart, but the end result will be the same without a substantial change in texture or flavour. You can use both interchangeably, just make sure they are both the full fat kind.

Q: Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted butter?

Well, yes and no. You can certainly use salted butter, but keep in mind that the amount of salt in brands of butter can vary greatly. So while you might end up with a delicious salty-sweet combo, you could also end up with a cake that tastes savoury! Another important factor to consider is the water content in salted butter is higher, which can end up effecting the overall texture of your baked goods.

Q: Can I substitute oil for butter in a recipe?

In some cases it might be possible (notably in recipes that call for melted butter) but will depends if a setting step is required afterwards. We recommend playing it safe and using the type of fat called for in your recipe. Butter is often necessary for the structure of the cake, especially when the creaming method is used. Butter also adds a surprising amount of flavour, which might be lacking from your finished bake if you sub it out for oil.

Q: What is cake flour?

A: Cake flour is a low protein flour which is finer, lighter and softer than regular plain flour. Protein content is directly related to the amount of gluten that will form during baking. Higher protein flours = faster gluten development = tough cakes and cookies, especially if they are over-mixed. By choosing a cake flour your cake should come out super soft, fluffy and tender with a fine crumb and smaller air pockets.

Q: Can I make my own cake flour?

A: Cake flour isn’t always readily available, but the good news is – you can create something similar yourself! Simply replace 2 tablespoons in every 1 cup (150g) of plain flour with corn flour and sift up to 5 times to thoroughly incorporate and aerate the flour.

If you have a few raising agents that have been sitting in your pantry for quite some time, here’s how to test if they are still good to use:

Q: How do I know if my baking powder is still fresh?

A: If it’s been a little while since your last baking adventure or the best before has rubbed off the packet, you can always double check by testing your baking powder with a little boiling water. Add a teaspoon of baking powder to a bowl and pour over some boiling water. If it bubbles, it’s still good to go.

Q: How do I know if my bi-carb soda is still fresh?

A: Use the same test as above, but use vinegar or lemon juice instead of boiling water. If it fizzes rapidly, it’s still ok to use.

All articles

Comments & Reviews

I also am upset that I am no longer able to purchase Parisian essence, my great grandmother would turn over in her grave if she knew I was baking her prised Fruit Cake without it (a great show winner in every generation) and passed down to the eldest daughter for christenings, engagement, wedding cakes and every celebratory event in the family. Please what is an alternative or can I make my own, as vegemite in a fruitcake certainly does not excite me.


Hi Beverly,

We are sorry to hear you’re missing this product. It was deleted to make room for other items that were more suitable to our consumers needs. We are currently working on publishing a recipe for this item – please stay tuned1 You’ll also be able to find some suggestions on Google. Thanks!


Where has your Parisian Essence gone?
As well as using it in gravies etc, it’s an essential ingredient in my Christmas Cake (family heirloom) but I can’t find it anywhere!


Hi Sue, Unfortunately our Parisian Essence was deleted by our retailers and is no longer available. Vegemite can work as a great alternative in savoury meals!


Always enjoy new ideas and recipes


Hi – I’ve noticed that your Baking Paste products eg Raspberry are very difficult to find for purchase. Are they still being produced? If not what is the best thing to use as a substitute for 40g of Raspberry Baking Paste. Thanks


Hi Iain, our Raspberry Baking paste was deleted from supermarkets, the best replacement would be 125g raspberry puree.


Why is wholemeal flour my enemy?. I follow recipes, weights etc to a “T”, yet no luck. My oven is perfect. Results always taste doughy, dusty….I store my flours accordingly. I have donated the flour to a local girl who bakes for the underprivileged.


Hi Tracy, We totally understand what you mean! Wholemeal can make some bakes a bit dense and doughy because of the heaviness of the flour. Firstly, always weight wholemeal flour rather than rely on cup measurements (aim for 150g per 1 cup). We also like to add a touch more leavening agent about 1/2 tsp baking powder per 150g/1 cup. And lastly, avoid over mixing – mix until you can still see a just a few streaks of flour, then stop. Hope this helps in your future bakes!