Ingredients Substitution for Your Christmas Baking

This is the time of year when I start baking. A lot. So much that I don’t even want to eat it all, I just want to make it. The cold weather makes me nest or something. But when the weather is miserable, the last thing I want to do is venture out for one thing. So, in the celebration of laziness and thriftiness (or often in my case, forgetfulness!), I present you with 10 homemade substitutes for common grocery store items.

Evaporated Milk

This is a frugal substitute as well–if you have nonfat milk powder on hand, that is. We generally do because I sometimes use it in breads and I beef up homemade yogurt with it.


  • 2/3 c. non-fat dry milk powder
  • 3/4 c. water

Mix it up and bam! You’ve got about 8 oz. of evaporated milk.

Self Rising Flour

This is a staple in the south and is fantastic for making very tender biscuits. I find a recipe that calls for it here and there and I never have it on hand. If only I’d found this substitution before:


  • 4 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. baking powder

Mix that stuff up and you’ll be all set for biscuit making. Unless of course you’re making buttermilk biscuits. I’ll bet you don’t have buttermilk either, do you?


I love buttermilk but in a pinch, this will do:

Simply mix these ingredients:

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice

Sweetened Condensed Milk

This should be inexpensive this time of year, but if you are caught without it and want to carry on with your recipe, check this out:


  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 cup dry skim milk


Substitute equal parts cinnamon and cloves. Or throw in some nutmeg too. It’ll be good either way.

Unsweetened Chocolate

I’m not a fan of substituting certain ingredients. If you have a recipe that features chocolate as the star player, buck up and go buy some good chocolate. But if you need a bit in a recipe or are making a pan of brownies for the kids, I’ve used this with pretty good results:


  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp butter or other fat (oil, shortening)
  • Cornstarch (1 Tbsp)

Common substitutes:

  • 2 Tbsp. flour, 2 Tbsp. tapioca (the grains, not the big pearls), 1 Tbsp. arrowroot
  • Brown Sugar




  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1 c. cottage cheese, blended until smooth
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • Almond Paste 1 amp;1/3 c. (I love this stuff, holy cow.)

Ingredients to mix well:

  • 1 3/4 c. ground blanched almonds
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Hopefully these will help! With that said, get to the market this week if you can. I see holiday baking supplies everywhere and the prices are great. I found powdered and brown sugars in 2 lb. bags for 88 cents, spices under a dollar, 72 cent evaporated milk, and all sorts of baking chips for around $1.50. That should keep your need to become a kitchen scientist to a minimum. (In case that’s your sort of thing. I do love that Alton Brown.) Enjoy your baking!

Get everything you need to get started by checking our list of the Best Baking Equipment for Beginners!

While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!