Here Are 12+ Must-Have Kitchen Substitutes and Alternatives

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Kitchen substitutes are life savers. But one thing is for sure, whenever you are out of a few ingredients, you feel like quitting all together. Now, here are some awesome and must-have kitchen substitutes you surely have in your kitchen cabinets. Read on.

How many times have you noted down a recipe, gone to the kitchen to try it out, and see that you are out of a few ingredients? I have been in your place. I know it feels frustrating to cancel that recipe and cook anything with all the ingredients you have. But, what if you have some kitchen substitutes?

Having a substitute is always the best option, especially when you are trying hard to cook something special. Be it for your guests or loved ones. 

So, here I am with amazing kitchen substitutes and alternatives you can use without compromising the authentic taste in your recipe. Now, no more frustration in the middle of cooking. 

Read on.

1. Gelatin

Gelatin is the basic ingredient you need to cook a variety of cook items. Be it jelly, cheesecake, and many other desserts. But what if you can’t find any gelatin sheets or powder at the supermarket? There is an option- Agar Agar. 

Agar-Agar is one counterpart of gelatin that you can use in place of gelatin without any doubt. It works like cornstarch that you can easily dissolve in water and use to make your food item thick. There is this quality of Agar Agar that makes the liquid solidify to a jelly-like structure. 

2. Vegetarian Eggs

Well! This seems something unbelievable, but you can actually find a vegetarian substitute for egg. So, no more than the ‘egg is vegetarian’ myth. However, this one is only available for baking.

No wonder animal-free food saves you from many fatal diseases such as cancers. Don’t believe me? Read out this study.

First, you can use Chia seeds. How to use it? Take 3 tablespoons of hot water and mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds into it. Let it stay for about 10-15 minutes. Drain out the jelly-like extract, and that's what you can use in place of egg in your baking batter. 

Moreover, there is another ingredient you can use. Flax seeds. Use it in the same manner, and you’ll be fine. Trust me, nobody can tell the difference. 

3. Milk substitute

About milk substitute, I can go on and on. Why milk substitute? Because it is necessary for vegans and people allergic to lactose. One of the best milk substitutes is coconut milk. Take some coconut flesh, grind it with some normal water, and squeeze out the milk. There you go; your coconut milk is ready. 

Now, there are more substitutes to milk. You can also extract milk from other ingredients such as almonds, soya and cashews. These are somethings that you are most likely to find in your kitchen cupboards. This is how vegans and lactose-conscious people can have more milk options than just that animal extracted one. 

4. Maida

We often find maida not good for our health. Also, it is bad for people dealing with diabetes. Be it baking, making dough, or anything, using wheat flour is a much healthier and convenient choice. 

If you think that using wheat as a maida substitute would make you compromise on taste, you can be a little wrong here. Have you ever tried the wheat pizza and wheat momos? Try them out. They are, I would say, much tastier than the ones made with maida. 

5. Tamarind

Nothing can substitute the authenticity and tanginess of tamarind, but there is an alternative you can rely on. That’s another tangy ingredient, Mango Powder. This mango powder is often made with drying up raw mangoes, which are extremely tangy to have. 

If you are making Imli chutney, use mango powder instead with Jaggery that gives the equally elegant taste you are expecting. Simply dissolve mango powder in water using a mixing bowl and pour it into your dishes. If you use tamarind for some curry or sambhar, mango powder can be the best kitchen substitute. 

6. Saffron

Let’s face it, no matter how great saffron is, it is still the most expensive spice you will ever find. Besides, it is hard to understand the authenticity of saffron. Therefore, here is an alternative to it. You can use turmeric powder + rose water instead. These are pretty much the common things you can find in your kitchen cabinet. 

Saffron is renowned for its exotic orange-ish colour and breathtaking fragrance. Why not combine the two and get the best alternative? This is why we recommend using turmeric for the colour and rose water for the taste. Moreover, both have great health properties when used in cooking mouth-watering cuisines. 

7. Baking soda

Tell me one thing, how many times did you go to the grocery store for baking soda but couldn’t find any? I have been there, and it literally sucks when the ingredients are not there. But, here is an idea, why don't you go for Eno or Club soda?

Eno is pretty much an obvious alternative to baking soda. That's what most Indians do. Especially when they cook something like cheela, Rava idli, or uthappam. But what about club soda? 

Liquid soda is one of the best alternatives you can find. However, you need to adjust the liquid quantity in your batter. Besides, you might realize some taste or colour changes when you use baking soda in various dishes. If you use club soda, it covers them all and gives you a nice fluffiness. 

8. Cashew Nuts

We all love the smoothness of makhni gravy. I am a big fan of it, and I am sure you are too. Have you ever wondered where this smoothness is coming from? It's all because of the cashew paste. But what if you don't have cashews?

For that nutty flavour and smoothness, you can use soaked almonds. Soak it for about 4-5 hours and blend it using the required amount of water. This is how you can get this smooth cashew-like texture. 

There is another alternative you can choose. Use sesame seeds or peanuts in place of cashew. It may not give you similar smoothness but will surely serve the purpose of the paste. 

9. Corn Flour

Chinese is always one of the best cuisines. But what is the biggest necessity for that thickness in gravy? It is the magic of cornflour. We often use 2 tablespoon cornflour with half a cup of water, mix it with the wire whisk, and add that to the sauces. The starch of the cornflour is what works. 

You can have a similar thickness using rice flour. Again, it's because of the starch present in it. Besides, the use of rice flour will definitely give you the sober flavour that every Chinese sauce or gravy gives. You must try this one out. 

10. Lemon Juice

Lemon is irreplaceable. Yes! This is what the truth is. But this kitchen substitute is what you need when using lemon to make a paneer or a preservative agent. By the way, if you don’t know, lemon is one of the best preservatives to go for. Anyway, you can use vinegar in place of lemons if you've run out of them.

If you are making paneer, boil the milk and add 2 tablespoons of vinegar. It will curdle up and give you a fine paneer texture. If you are making filling for kachori and all, you can use vinegar in place of lemon. 

Don’t use vinegar in place of lemon while making lemon water. Let’s face it, nothing can replace lemon that much. 

11. Rice

How many times have you had that leftover rajma, kadhi, or any other curry but don’t have rice to go with it? Don’t be disappointed as you can easily substitute with other ingredients. Especially when you are making fried-rice kinda thing. 

For rice, you can use quinoa that gives you a broken rice type feel. Apart from that, there is amaranth which is quite an exotic grain. It's easy to make and gives you a great taste. Now, here are some wheat substitutes- Millets and buckwheat. Both are like tiny particles of wheat that you can use with your curries. 

12. Paneer-tofu 

Vegans and people allergic to lactose are surely looking for some alternative. This is the reason why people looked for alternatives and found a perfect substitute. No milk paneer? No worries, we have tofu as a substitute. 

Tofu is made with soya milk. The milk substitute we just talked about. You can use soy milk to make tofu. However, tofu is a little harder and sour than paneer, but once you start using it, it's totally worth it. Also, for all the health-conscious people, this Tofu-paneer can become your go-to buddy!


There you go, here are all the kitchen substitute goods and alternatives you need in your kitchen to say goodbye to those shortage-of-ingredients issues. What are you waiting for? No more worrying about missing out on an ingredient and quitting cooking entirely for the day. 

Turn on your Kitchen time because there is always a solution in your cabinets and pantry. So, never stop cooking, never stop eating good food. 


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