Swap This For That: Food Substitutions During Coronavirus

Swap This For That: Food Substitutions During Coronavirus - One Drop

Under normal circumstances, running out of a key ingredient for your recipe means a quick run to the grocery store.

Now that COVID-19 is here -- and causing a bit of care-cocooning for all of us (or, what you may also know as self-isolating in your home) -- those grocery runs are becoming few and far between. Not only that, but some grocery stores don’t have that key ingredient you need. 

Not to worry! There are lots of options out there. We can still find plenty of non-perishable foods on sites like Amazon, Walmart, and others. But what about those other items? The ones you need to make your dinner tonight? Or lunch for the next few days?

Below, find a comprehensive list of the most-used ingredients and their alternatives.

This resource is great during our hunker-down period, but also in general! They’re not exact sub-ins, but they will get the job done. And who knows, maybe you’ll find a new recipe tweak that you love even more than the original!

💡 Pro-Tip: Another great (and super in-depth) resource is David Joachim’s Food Substitution’s Bible, available here.

Food Substitutions for Recipe Ingredients

Almond Milk - 4 cups

  • 4 cups purified water plus ½ cups smooth raw almond butter, processed in a blender or food processor until smooth
  • 4 cups unsweetened hazelnut, walnut, or soy milk
Beef Tenderloin - 1 pound
  • 1 pound rib-eye steak, or strip steak/top loin
  • 2 (8-ounce) shoulder petite tender steaks (petite chuck tender/bistro filet)


  • Oil (for sauteing and frying). Or use a nonstick pan coated with cooking oil spray and heat the pan thoroughly.
  • Regular (not light) margarine
  • Lard
  • Coconut oil (solid)
Collards - 1 pound
  • 1 lb kale
  • 1 lb mature spinach
  • 1 lb green chard leaves
  • 1 lb mustard greens
  • 1 lb turnip greens
  • 1 lb bok choy
Chicken - 1 pound
  • 1 lb turkey
  • 1 lb pork
  • 1 lb rabbit
  • 1 lb cornish hen
Ground Chicken - 1 pound
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 lb ground veal
Oregano - 1 tbsp
Oregano isn’t one specific herb, but rather various species of marjoram that carry the characteristic oregano flavor -- a combo of sweet, pungent mint and thyme.
  • 1 tbsp fresh marjoram
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh sweet basil
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
Olive Oil - ½ cup
  • ½ cup corn oil
  • ½ cup untoasted sesame seed oil
  • ½ cup canola or rapeseed oil
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • ½ grapeseed oil
Almond Butter - 1 cup
  • 1 cup coconut butter
  • 1 cup cashew butter
  • 1 cup hazelnut butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter 
  • 1 cup tahini
Make Your Own: Grind 2 cups roasted almonds with ½ teaspoon sea salt (optional) in a food processor until reduced to a paste -- roughly 10 minutes -- scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator; will last up to 4 weeks.

Shallots - 1 chopped shallot
  • ¼ cup chopped ramps or wild leeks (light part only)
  • ¼ cup chopped leeks + ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ chopped green onions or scallions (white and light green parts only)
Scallions - 1 bunch
Part of the onion family with a white bottom and dark, green leaves, both of which are edible. They’re a bit milder in flavor than immature green onions.
  • 1 bunch green onions (stronger flavor)
  • 1 bunch ramps (milder flavor)
  • 3-4 cups chopped leeks
  • 3-4 cups chopped chives (best raw, lightly cooked)
Cream Cheese - 1 pound
  • 1 lb mascarpone cheese (richer)
  • 1 lb boursin cheese
  • 1 lb Alouette cheese
  • 1 lb Rondele cheese
Garlic - 1 clove
  • ½ tsp - 1 tsp minced shallots
  • ½ tsp garlic flakes
  • ½ tsp liquid garlic seasoning
Cayenne Pepper - ½ tsp
  • ½ tsp ground chipotle powder
  • ½ tsp ground ancho powder
  • ½ tsp hot paprika
  • ¾ crushed red pepper flakes
Sour Cream - 1 cup
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • ⅓ cup melted unsalted butter + ¾ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup cottage cheese blended with 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 6 oz cream cheese + 3 tbsp whole milk
Broth - 1 cup chicken or beef
  • 1 bouillon cube + 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon bouillon granules + 1 cup boiling water

💡 Pro-Tip: To replace chicken or vegetable broth, use an equivalent amount of dry white wine, vermouth, or water (in small amounts). For beef broth, use an equivalent amount of vegetable broth, red wine, or beer.

While you're at it, enjoy the extra time at home to learn new dishes and experiment with old ones! 



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Mary Elizabeth Adams
Mar 20, 2020

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