Substitutions for Cake Baking and a Free Printable Reference Guide

Don’t you hate it when you’re in the midst of making a cake and realize you’re missing an ingredient? You don’t have to quit up just yet. This article discusses cake baking substitutes and includes a free printed reference guide.

So I’ve done this numerous times and wished I had a simple cheat sheet with replacements I could use. I assumed I couldn’t be the only one, so I gathered everything in one location to provide you with a variety of possibilities.

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Before we go too far into the replacements, I’d want to make a few points.


To begin, various components perform diverse functions in cakes. The ideal thing to do is to use the items called for in the recipe, but if you absolutely cannot, I’ve provided a few substitutions to try.

The key word here is “try.” None of these substitutions are perfect since they are not what was asked for, so there will be some compromise, particularly with the oil and egg alternatives.

Using some of these may modify the texture of the cake. Please be aware of this (particularly the egg alternatives).

Many times, food bloggers get negative feedback when components are swapped in our recipes and the results do not match or are not what is anticipated.

Please keep in mind that the ideal is to use what the recipe asks for, and that we (recipe authors and testers) are not always able to try out every possible alternative for every dish we publish. (There just isn’t enough time in the day for that.)

taste.Basically, use these substitutes at your discretion and keep in mind that they are just for when you can’t find the perfect product or have an allergy to what the recipe asks for. Just keep in mind that you may need to experiment with various choices to get the desired texture.

Please keep in mind that I have not tested each and every one of these replacements. Many, but not all, have I attempted. Even if I did, each recipe would respond differently to various substitutes. Using substitutes, particularly in baking, is a game of trial and error.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the list of cake ingredient substitutes. Also, at the bottom of the list is a handy printable that you can click on and it will instantly download. For reference, you may save it to your phone, computer, or print it.

Ok, lets get to the list now.

Cake Baking Substitutions:

By the way, I’ve attempted to categorize these replacements.

Substituting Spices/Extracts:

  • 1 teaspoon allspice (1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon crushed cloves, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
  • Vanilla extract (3 teaspoon equals 1 whole vanilla bean split OR same quantity maple syrup)

Substituting Sugar:

  • Brown sugar (1 cup equals 1 tablespoon molasses + 1 cup white granulated sugar for light brown or 2 tablespoon molasses plus 1 cup white granulated sugar for dark brown) Note 1: If you don’t have molasses, you may use maple syrup. Note 2: Light brown and dark brown sugar may be interchanged.
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar equals 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (1 cup equals 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder in a blender)

Substituting Flour:

  • Cake flour (1 cup equals 1 cup all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons replaced with 2 tablespoons cornstarch)
  • ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR (1 CUP = 1 CUP CAKE FLOUR + 2 TBS CAKE FLOUR OR Use self-rising flour and omit the baking powder and salt from the recipe, as long as the recipe asks for around -1 teaspoon baking powder per 1 cup flour. If the recipe asks for more baking powder than -1 tsp, you will need to add extra baking powder to compensate.)
  • (1 cup equals 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder plus 1 teaspoon salt)

Substituting Eggs:

  • Eggs (1 egg = cup unsweetened applesauce OR cup mashed banana or pureed fruit OR 1 tbs flaxseed (or chia seeds) mixed with 3 tablespoon hot water until absorbed and thick OR use commercial egg replacer OR cup pureed silken tofu OR 1 teaspoon baking soda with 1 tablespoon vinegar OR cup yogurt or buttermilk OR 2 tablespoon arrowroot powder mixed with 3 tablespoon water OR 3 tablespoon liquid from canned beans OR 1 tablespoon soy lecithin)

Substituting Leavening Agents:

  • Baking soda 1 teaspoon equals 1 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1 teaspoon baking soda OR 1 teaspoon baking soda combined with 1 teaspoon vinegar OR 1 teaspoon self-rising flour in lieu of the flour asked for in the recipe (the quantity varies-see flour substitution section)
  • Baking powder (1 teaspoon = 3 teaspoon baking powder, half the salt called for in the recipe, and possibly replace acidic ingredients in the recipe with non acidic ones (ie: use regular milk instead of buttermilk, OR try whipping your egg whites and cream before adding them to your cake batter to incorporate a bit more air to help with the leavening.)

See this page for additional information on baking soda and baking powder (and why they are not interchangeable). What Is the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?

Substituting Liquids:

  • 1 cup buttermilk is equal to 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar + 1 cup milk. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes before adding it to the cake batter OR 1 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1 cup milk. Allow 5 minutes to stand before using OR 1 cup yogurt plus 1 cup whole milk OR 1 cup sour cream plus 1 cup whole milk)
  • Yogurt (1 cup equals 1 cup buttermilk OR 1 cup sour cream OR 1 cup cottage cheese mixed smooth OR 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar + 1 cup milk). Allow it to stand for 5 minutes before adding it to the cake batter.)
  • The sour cream 1 cup equals 1 cup full-fat yogurt Alternatively, combine 1 cup sour milk or buttermilk with 1 cup melted butter. To produce sour milk or buttermilk, take a spoonful of milk and measure it out. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to taste.)
  • Milk (1 cup equals canned coconut cream OR cup sour cream combined with a cup of water OR cup evaporated milk mixed with a cup of water OR 1 cup water mixed with a cup of nonfat dry milk OR cup half and half mixed with a cup of water OR 1 cup buttermilk mixed with a teaspoon baking soda)

Substituting Chocolate/Cocoa Powder:

To begin, I do not advocate substituting plain melted chocolate for cocoa in a cake recipe. The major reason is because cocoa gives the cake a considerably richer taste. Because cocoa is so concentrated, you’ll receive considerably more of a chocolaty flavor than melted chocolate.

With that stated, if you really must replace, consider the following:

  • 3 tablespoon = 1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (melt and add to the batter) then omit a tablespoon of butter or oil that the recipe calls for OR 3 tablespoon dutch processed cocoa powder plus teaspoon cream of tartar mixed with lemon juice or white vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder (3 tablespoons equals 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 teaspoon baking soda for every 3 tablespoons cocoa powder asked for)
  • Melted semi-sweet chocolate 1 oz equals 1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate warmed and combined with 1 tbsp granulated sugar OR 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder with 3 tbsp sugar plus 1 tbsp butter or shortening.)
  • Unsweetened chocolate (1 ounce equals 3 tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder combined with 1 tbsp unsalted melted butter or oil)

Check out this article for a more in-depth look at the differences between dutch and normal cocoa powder: What kind of cocoa powder should I use? (What Is the Distinction?)

Substituting Oils/Butters:

  • 1 cup equals 1 cup unsweetened applesauce or fruit puree OR 1 cup melted butter + 1 tablespoon additional butter OR 1 cup coconut oil OR 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening equals 1 cup butter OR 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup salted butter (1 cup means 1 cup shortening with a teaspoon of salt or 1 cup vegetable oil plus a teaspoon of salt OR 1 cup unsweetened applesauce plus a teaspoon of salt OR 1 cup coconut oil)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (1 cup shortening or vegetable oil OR 1 cup unsweetened applesauce OR 1 cup coconut oil)

More on the differences between salted and unsalted butter can be found in this post: Salted Butter versus Unsalted Butter (Best Butter for Baking Cakes).

And below is the printable substitution list.

Simply click on the image or button below, and it will download instantly. You may then download it to your phone, computer, or print it for future reference.

Download the Substitution Reference Guide HERE

Click here to see all of the blog’s cake making tips: Cake Baking Suggestions


What are 4 common baking substitutes?

Popular Baking Substitutions
Baking soda. 14 teaspoon baking soda + 12 teaspoon cream of tartar + 14 teaspoon cornstarch = 1 teaspoon baking powder.
Butter. 1 cup salted butter is equal to 1 cup margarine.
Flour for baking. 1 cup cake flour is equal to 34 cup sifted all-purpose flour plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
Cocoa Powder.
Shortening made from vegetables.

What are 6 examples of ingredient substitutions?

Substitutions for Common Ingredients
Worcestershire sauce is a condiment. Worcestershire sauce may be included in a variety of dishes, ranging from steak sauce to meatloaf.
Milk that has been evaporated.
Syrup made from maple trees.
Extract of vanilla.

Can you substitute sour cream for water in a cake mix?

Sour cream and packaged cake mix. To use sour cream with a boxed cake mix, substitute the other liquids in the recipe, such as milk or water. You may add up to a cup, or about the same quantity of liquid you were supposed to add according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

What is a substitution chart?

This Ingredient Substitution Chart lists substitutes that may be used in cooking to produce a product that is similar to the original.

What is the most cheapest ingredient in baking?

1. Flour – Flour is the foundation of most baked items, including cookies, cakes, and breads. It’s also one of the least expensive ingredients you’ll find.

What is a 1 for 1 substitute?

One-to-one sugar substitutes are combinations of a bulk-free and a bulk sweetener: Cup-for-cup sweeteners have a bulk sweetener as the main component and a trace of a high-intensity sweetness.

What can you use instead of eggs and cake?

Egg Substitutes Most Commonly Used in Baking Mashed Banana.
Tofu that has been silken.
Ground Flax Seed with water.
Buttermilk and yogurt (dairy-free or ordinary).
Condensed Milk that has been sweetened.

What are 2 other things I could use instead for a cake instead of eggs?

4 cup yogurt.
Tofu that has been silken.
The banana is ripe.
Flaxseed meal.4 cup applesauce.
Soy yogurt, plain or vanilla. Replace 1 egg with: 1Egg substitutes
Baking soda with vinegar. 1 egg may be replaced with 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon vinegar.
Applesauce without sugar. 1 egg should be replaced with: 1

What is a good example of substitution?

A one-dollar bill, for example, is a suitable replacement for another $1 note. And butter from two different producers is likewise regarded as a perfect equivalent; the producer may change, but the purpose and application are the same.

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