• Kieumy, BOM, London

A guide to substitute cooking ingredients: Part 1-Substituting Dairy Products, Oils & Fats and Stock

Updated: 5 days ago

If you often come across instances where you want to cook up something, and you are missing an ingredient, reading this series of articles could definitely help you with common substitutes for ingredients to adapt your recipe accordingly. In this series of substitutes for cooking ingredients, I want to include substitutes for Dairy products, Oils & Fats, Stock, Greens, Herbs, Spices, and Flours. In this blog post, I will talk about how you can substitute dairy products, Oils & Fats and Stock.


Now it is important to note that this is not a one size fits all approach and this list may not work in every case. However, if you can make some compromises on flavour, texture, and cook time, you will be able to have a vast array of substitute options.


Dairy products:

It is important to consider flavour and texture while working with dairy products. When it comes to liquid dairy products, you can easily adjust the consistency of the products. For example, you can thicken milk with a little flour or cornstarch, or thin out yogurt with water to substitute for milk. Arranged below are ingredients from thinnest to thickest with desired substitutes for each:


Milk variants:

  • Thicken milk with a little flour or cornstarch- 1 tablespoon per cup of milk

  • Thin heavy cream with a splash of water

  • For 1 cup heavy cream, substitute 3/4 cup milk plus 1/4 cup melted butter.

  • For one cup of buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or light vinegar to enough milk to reach 1 cup of buttermilk. You can also thin one part of any other creamy dairy product with one part milk, or thin two parts of any other creamy dairy product with one part water.

Coconut milk, coconut cream, softened cream cheese can be used as alternate substitutes too!

Other dairy products:

  • Butter: Butter can be substituted with olive oil or any other fats if it is used to conduct heat. If you want to use butter to add richness to a dish, you could substitute it with heavy cream or mascarpone.

  • Cheese: Cheese can be substituted according to its consistency and texture:

  1. Soft and wet cheeses: Cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, fromage blanc

  2. Creamy cheeses: Brie, Camembert, Taleggio, Pont l’Evêque.

  3. Semi Firm cheeses: Cheddar, Gouda, Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Swiss cheese, Port-Salut, Montery Jack, Colby, Edam, Havarti, Fontina

  4. Hard cheeses: Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago, Manchego, Comté, Gruyère

  • Other creamy dairy products- Textural substitutes like crème fraîche, mascarpone sour cream or yogurt can be interchangeably used.


Oils & Fats:

When substituting oils and fats, it is important to consider smoke point- the temperature at which the oil or fat starts to burn. When deep frying, neutral oils with high smoke points are preferred because they won’t burn. On the other hand, solid fats with low smoke points like butter will burn easily.


  • Neutral oils with high smoke point: Canola oil, coconut oil, corn oil, grape seed oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil.

  • Flavoured oils with medium or high smoke point: Avocado oil, nut oils, olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil.

  • Solid fats with low smoke point: Bacon fat, butter, chicken fat, lard, margarine, vegetable shortening.

Stock

A recipe commonly requires stock to add liquid content to the dish. So, if your recipe requires only a little stock, you can substitute it with water. If your recipe requires adding a considerable portion of stock, you can use water seasoned with other ingredients such as- beer or white wine, juice (orange juice or apple juice), melted butter, milk (dairy, coconut, nut or soy milk), miso paste, mushroom stock olive oil, soy sauce, tea.

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