Out of ingredients? Here are some substitutes to keep in your pantry

by: Rachelle Ma
08 Jun 2020

Living in times where baking and cooking have finally been given its moment to shine, we’ve seen few things short of an epidemic in its own right happen in the supermarket. Flour shortage, fighting over the last cake mix, ingredients be it basic pantry-essential or speciality ones used for international cuisine have all hit the mainstream. Day one home cooks might already know this, but recipes don’t have to be set in stone! The great thing about cooking is, if an ingredient is hard to find or doesn’t work for you, simply swap it out! Here are our suggestions for some alternate ingredients to help you in the kitchen. 


Is there anything worse than running out of eggs? If you’re looking to whip up a fluffy, egg-white omelette for breakfast this may be less than useful but for baking, where nearly every recipe calls for a few of them, there's more than plenty ways to replace them. 

In baking, eggs are mainly used for binding dry ingredients, leavening or adding moisture. Having an egg allergy or plant-based diet might mean that you’ll have to leave the eggs in the basket but to achieve the same results without them using ground flaxseed or chia seeds could do the trick. 

To replace one egg: Use 1 tablespoon of ground chia or flax seed absorbed in three tablespoons of water. Try using this substitute when making pancakes, waffles, and baked goods with a heavier and dense texture. Using gelatin as an egg substitute can also be a swap that doesn’t compromise taste. Use 1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin in 1 tablespoon of cold water. Mix in an additional 2 tablespoons of boiling water until frothy. 

Soy Sauce 

You’ll be hard-pressed to find any household in Hong Kong that doesn’t have soy sauce. Oftentimes, you find a different one for a different type of cooking!

To replace soy sauce: If you’re in a pinch, the golden-brown savoury elixir (we mean, sauce) can be substituted with tamari or Worcestershire sauce. Tamari, made also from soybeans but contains no wheat is also a great alternative for those with gluten intolerance. 


Missing a spice? Don’t let that stop you from trying out a new recipe or vamping up an old one. Depending on the substitute, you can swap out a spice of the same note with the same quantity. Spices can be categorized into four notes they produce: earthy, floral, peppery and warm and the list goes on!

To replace spices: Curry powder go best with onion, garlic, turmeric powder and za’atar while nutmeg and coriander complement each other. Warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika and cumin also blend together well. For a list of other spices that can be swapped out or paired with each other, find this list.


Though vinegar’s a staple for home cooking, there’s a chance you may have run out. Used for its flavour and chemical properties, vinegar adds vibrancy to your dish. Many recipes might call for a certain type of vinegar so it’s worth knowing which ones can be swapped for other kinds of vinegar and ingredients.

To replace vinegar: For baking, swap out the vinegar for lemon juice. Double the amount of lemon juice used if swapping out vinegar in cooking recipes.  For balsamic vinegar, use brown rice vinegar. Apple cider vinegar can be swapped out for white vinegar or wine vinegar. For a comprehensive guide on vinegar substitute, check out the list here