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Handy Cooking Conversions and Substitutions

By: Danielle Zimmerman, editor for

Measuring SpoonsWe often find that, when cooking or baking, we don't have the correct measuring tools or that we're missing a certain ingredient. It happens to everyone at some point or another. Lucky for you, we've created Handy Cooking Conversions and Substitutions, a guide that will help you out when you're in need of ingredient substitutions or a baking conversion chart. Whether you're looking for a substitution for buttermilk, or you need to find out how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon, you can consult this guide and find everything that you need. You'll definitely want to print these cooking conversions and ingredient substitutions out or bookmark them in your web browser for easy access.

Table of Contents

How to Halve a Recipe

Common Cooking Conversions

Ingredient Substitutions


How to Halve a Recipe

If you ever need to cut down a recipe, this handy chart will be a huge help. When you only need to bake for your household or a few people, you can easily cut down a recipe that's meant to serve a crowd. 


How to Cut a Recipe in Half

Click here or on the image to download your free printable guide to cutting a recipe in half!


Cooking Conversions

In this first section, entitled Cooking Conversions, we've included a baking conversion chart that shows U.S. volume equivalents, as well as a few U.S./Metric conversions. You'll want to reference these cooking conversions whenever you're unsure about how much of a certain ingredient to add, or exactly how much a recipe yields. If you've lost a measuring spoon, for example, and need to figure out how to compensate with your other spoons, you'll find the correct conversions right here.


U.S. Volume Equivalents

1/2 teaspoon = 30 drops

3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons = 1 ounce = 1/8 cup

8 tablespoons = 4 ounces = 1/2 cup

16 tablespoons = 8 ounces = 1 cup

2 cups = 1 pint

4 cups = 2 pints = 1 quart = 32 ounces

4 quarts = 1 gallon = 16 cups = 128 ounces


U.S. to Metric Volume Equivalents

1/4 teaspoon = 1.23 ml

1 teaspoon = 4.9 ml

1/8 cup = 30 ml

1/2 cup = 120 ml

1 cup = 240 ml

4 cups = 960 ml

4 quarts = 3.8 l


U.S. to Metric Weight Equivalents*

1/2 ounce = 14 grams

1 ounce = 29 grams

4 ounces = 113 grams

16 ounces = 1 pound = 454 grams

64 ounces = 4 pounds = 1800 grams = 1.8 kilograms

*ounces multiplied by 28.35 = grams; pounds multiplied by .454 = kilograms


Ingredient Substitutions

What ingredients can you use if you don't have buttermilk? Can you substitute baking powder for baking soda? Is yogurt a good substitute for sour cream? You'll find the answers to these baking substitution questions and more in this second section, Ingredient Substitutions. From simple baking substitutions to healthy ingredient swaps, this guide will show you some of the best and simplest ingredient substitutions. Just remember, substituting ingredients may slightly change the taste of the recipe.


Ingredient Amount Substitution
Allspice 1 tsp. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. cloves
Almond Meal 1 cup Homemade almond meal: 1 cup sliced almonds and 1 T white sugar, blended until finely ground
Baking Powder (Single-Acting) 1 tsp. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 tsp. cornstarch OR 2/3 double-acting baking powder
Baking Powder (Double-Acting) 1 tsp. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 tsp. cornstarch
Baking Soda 1/2 tsp. 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder (make sure to replace acidic liquid in recipe with non-acidic liquid)
Brown Sugar 1 cup, packed 1 cup white sugar plus 1/4 cup molasses, then decrease liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup
Bread Crumbs 1 cup  1 cup cracker crumbs OR 1 cup ground oats
Butter (Salted) 1 cup  1 cup margarine OR 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 tsp. salt
Butter (Unsalted) 1 cup 1 cup shortening OR 7/8 cup lard OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil
Buttermilk 1 cup 1 tsp. lemon juice, enough milk to make 1 cup (let mixture stand for 5-10 minutes)
Cake Flour 1 cup 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2 T cornstarch
Chocolate (Bittersweet or Semi-Sweet) 1 ounce 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 T granulated sugar
Chocolate (Unsweetened) 1 ounce 3 T natural cocoa powder, 1 T unsalted butter or shortening
Cocoa 1/4 cup 1 oz. square of unsweetened chocolate
Coffee (Strong) 1/4 cup 2 T instant coffee in 3 T hot water
Corn Syrup 1 cup 1/4 cup white sugar plus 1/3 cup water
Cornstarch 1 T 2 T all-purpose flour
Cream (Half and Half) 1 cup 7/8 cup milk plus 1 T butter
Cream (Heavy) 1 cup 3/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup butter
Cream of Tartar 1 tsp. 2 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar
Garlic 1 clove 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder OR 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (reduce salt in recipe)
Lard 1 cup 1 cup shortening OR 7/8 cup vegetable OR 1 cup butter
Margarine 1 cup 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt OR 1 cup butter OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
Mayonnaise 1 cup 1 cup sour cream OR 1 cup plain yogurt
Molasses 1 cup 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp. cream of tartar
Shortening 1 cup 1 cup butter OR 1 cup margarine, 1/2 salt taken out of recipe
Sour Cream 1 cup 1 cup plain yogurt
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp. 1/2 a vanilla bean OR 1/2-1 tsp. other extract



For more handy kitchen tips, check out our free eBook, The Ultimate Kitchen Guide: How-Tos, Cooking Tips & Essential Kitchen Knowledge.




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