NDSU Extension - Benson County


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Simple Substitutions

By Kimberly Braulick, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

Have you ever started cooking or baking, and midway through the recipe realized that you do not have all of the ingredients?  If you do not live next door to a grocery store, this can be a problem.  Luckily, many ingredients can be substituted without anyone ever knowing the difference.  Here are just a few common baking ingredients that can be substituted if you happen to be in a pinch.

  • ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar can be substituted for 1 ½ teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1 cup of honey can be substituted for 1 ¼ cup sugar plus ¼ cup liquid
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon can be substituted for ½ teaspoon of vinegar

If you do not to have any sweeten condensed milk, you can actually make your own with just a few simple ingredients.  To make 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk, simply combine the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup sugar

Stir the ingredients together until they are smooth, and you will have what you need for your recipe. 

While these are a few of the common substitutions, there are many, many more.  If you are in the middle of a recipe, and need a quick substitution you know will work, be sure to look at the NDSU Extension publication Ingredient Substitutions. 

Here is a recipe for apple cinnamon bars.  Enjoy this delicious dessert that is packed with ingredients from both the fruit and grain group.

Apple Cinnamon Bars


  • 4 apple (medium)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oats (uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup shortening


First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, brown sugar, and oats in the mixing bowl. Stir together.  Then, add the shortening to the bowl. Use the 2 table knives to mix the ingredients and cut them into crumbs.  Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the baking dish with a little bit of shortening.  Spread half of the crumb mixture in the greased baking dish.  Remove the core from the apples and slice them. Put the apple slices into the baking dish.  Top the apples with the rest of the crumb mixture.  Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes.  Cut into squares. It will fall apart easily.


Substitution Option:

You can use applesauce (16 ounces) or canned apples in place of fresh apples. You can use either peeled or unpeeled apples.

Makes: 24 servings.  Each serving contains 93 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 52 mg of sodium.


  • Ingredient Substitutions, NDSU Extension Service, April 2013
  • Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program, Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network, Website Recipes
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