Staying indoors amid the COVID-19 crisis got many of us cooking more than ever before, and there's a good chance we run out of ingredients we usually have on hand.

Food gives us comfort in these trying times. That is why it's difficult to run out of ingredients and keep going out to buy them because it may increase the chance of transmission not only for you but also for your loved ones.

Practice the art of improvising and still enjoy cooking your favorite recipes with these tips:

Vegetable oil

If you run out of vegetable oil, you can use an equivalent amount of regular margarine, coconut oil, or even manteca or lard, which makes for a light, fluffy, flavorful biscuits, pie crusts and such.

You can also substitute ½ cup of applesauce for ½ cup of oil. The pectin in the apples is what creates the magic, although it's best for muffins because the finished product will be a bit denser than if you used a fat. But check the label! Make sure you use unsweetened applesauce.


When baking, there are lots of substitutes for eggs; some work better than others at leavening, and some will alter the texture and/or the density of the finished product. You can substitute one egg with the following: 

  • 2 Tbsp. plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • ½ pureed banana (1/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp. Chia seeds soaked in 3 Tbsp. water for 15 minutes
  • 1/4 cup blended silken tofu
  • 2-3 Tbsp. regular mayonnaise (not lite)

Baking soda

If your baking soda hasn't been used for a while and isn't "fizzy" anymore, use four tsp. of baking powder for every teaspoon of baking soda needed.

Acidic liquid

If your recipe calls for an acidic liquid such as vinegar, sour cream, yogurt, lemon juice, and buttermilk, you can replace it with the same amount of milk.


You can substitute buttermilk with a mixture of 1 tbsp white vinegar, fresh lime or lemon juice with enough milk to equal 1 cup; let sit for 10 minutes. The milk and acid will react and give you the tangy flavor you need.

Lemon or lime

The taste of fresh lemon or lime juice is irreplaceable, but just to add an almost similar effect to your recipe, you can use 1½ tsp. white wine vinegar for each Tbsp. of citrus juice. This will yield the required "chemical reaction" for quick leavening bread, muffins, and whatnot.


Did you know you can substitute black bean purée for regular flour in some baking recipes? One cup of black bean purée makes an equal amount of flour. It's also a healthier alternative to flour because it's high in protein but low in carbs. Just blend almond or other nut flour to make one.  Substitute 1 cup nut flour plus ½ teaspoon of a rising agent to one cup of flour in cookies, cakes, pancakes/waffles, and quick loaves of bread.

Blended oats can also be used in place of flour.

Hot sauce

Are you running out of hot pepper sauce and craving that spicy fix? Substitute 1 tsp. of hot sauce with 3/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper mixed with 1 tsp. vinegar.


Not enough ketchup left in the bottle? Make a quick replacement by mixing 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 tsp. vinegar, and 1 Tbsp. sugar.

If you're interested in more common ingredient substitutes, here's a link to a printable pdf.