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    15 Ingredient Substitutions For When You Run Out Of Common Ingredients

    Ran out of cream? Don't panic.

    We've all been there. You're cooking dinner only to realize you've completely run out of an ingredient. In those all-too-frequent moments, refer to this list of common ingredient swaps that will save the day (or at the very least, the meal).

    1. If you don't have white wine, use chicken broth or apple cider vinegar.

    A bottle of apple cider vinegar on a countertop with two apples next to it.
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    If a recipe calls for white wine and you'd rather cook without alcohol or you're just straight-up out of wine, use an equal amount of apple cider vinegar or broth or stock. Both will add depth to whatever you're cooking. Chicken broth will impart more richness while cider vinegar will give your dish a bit more acidity.

    2. If you don't have heavy cream, use milk and butter.

    Butter melting on a skillet.
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    Milk on its own won't replicate that seriously creamy, decadent flavor you get from half and half, but if you combine milk and butter, you've got a perfect replacement. According to The Spruce Eats, melt 1/3 cup butter. Once cooled, add the melted butter to 3/4 cup milk and stir until combined. Then go ahead and use the milk and butter mixture instead of cream in your pasta with crispy mushrooms, Parmesan garlic chicken, and more.

    3. If you don't have vinegar, use lemon or lime juice.

    Sliced limes on a wooden cutting board.
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    Vinegar has one purpose in cooking: to add acidity. It makes food tangy and tender, which is why it's such a common ingredient in salad dressings and marinades. If you don't have vinegar on hand, you can swap in citrus for the same acidity. Lemon or lime juice is ideal, but you can even use orange juice if necessary.

    4. If you don't have capers, use olives or pickles.

    A wooden cutting board topped with thinly chopped pickles.
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    Perhaps you're cooking a dish like chicken piccata or baked fish that calls for capers in the ingredient list. To replicate these salty, flavor-packed flower buds, try finely chopping up green olives (like castelvetrano, manzanilla, or picholine) or you can substiture choped dill or cornichon pickles.

    5. If you don't have Italian seasoning, use a mix of herbs you likely already have on hand.

    A mixture of dried spices.
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    You come across Italian seasoning in many recipes, particularly if you're cooking something like meatballs, chicken parmesan, or Bolognese. Italian seasoning is just a blend of spices, so you can get creative and swap in whatever mix of Italian herbs in your spice drawer. Using any combination of oregano, garlic powder, rosemary, red chili flakes, thyme, and/or basil.

    6. If you don't have milk, use yogurt or sour cream.

    A bowl of sour cream.
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    There's nothing worse than whipping up mac 'n' cheese when you realize, oh no — theres' no milk in the fridge. Next time you realize you're out of milk, just swap in a dairy alternative like plain yogurt or sour cream. If you want fuller, richer tasting food, opt for whole milk yogurt.

    7. If you don't have soy sauce, use Worcestershire sauce.

    A bottle of the original Worcestershire sauce.
    Amazon

    Whether you're making chicken teriyaki, stir-fry, noodles in peanut sauce, or many more recipes, you'll probably encounter soy sauce on the ingredient list. If you don't have any on hand, try Worcestershire sauce in its place. This fermented condiment is made of red onions, garlic, anchovies, and molasses, so it boasts the same umami-packed flavor as soy sauce.

    8. If you don't have vegetable oil, use apple sauce.

    A small white bowl of apple sauce.
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    This one applies to baking (because you probably wouldn't want to fry anything in apple sauce!). If you're baking brownies, cake, or cookies, just swap unsweetened apple sauce for vegetable oil in a 1:1 ratio. Like oil, the apple sauce will make your baked goods super moist and delicious.

    9. If you don't have buttermilk, use regular milk and vinegar.

    A jar of milk.
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    Maybe you're making pancakes or chicken pot pie when you discover you're out of buttermilk. Don't fret. Just use the same amount of milk plus a tablespoon or white vinegar (or lemon juice). Whole milk is the best option because it is richer, but you can use whatever is in your fridge.

    10. If you don't have sugar, use honey, maple syrup, or agave.

    Maple syrup being poured into a cup.
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    This one might seem obvious, but if a recipe calls for sugar, swap in another sweet ingredient from your pantry. Maple syrup, honey, and agave are all perfect replaceents, and you probably won't notice a difference in the final taste of your food.

    11. If you don't have sherry, use apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar.

    A bottle of Bragg organic apple cider vinegar.
    Amazon

    Maybe you're whipping up shrimp in garlic sauce or French onion soup when a recipe calls for sherry. There's a good chance you don't have this fortified wine on hand. In its place use apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. Using something like red wine might alter the flavor, but these more subtle cooking vinegars will hardly change the flavor.

    12. If you don't have breadcrumbs, use any crushed crackers, pretzels, or cornflakes.

    Crushed crackers on a paper towel.
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    Whether you're making chicken cutlets, macaroni and cheese, or a vegetable gratin, you can swap the breadcrumbs for any crushed crackers in your pantry. Keeping a box of Ritz crackers on hand just for this occasion. If you don't have crackers, crushed corn flakes or pretzels will add a similar crunch.

    13. If you don't have mirin, use rice vinegar.

    A bottle of Marukan rice vinegar.
    Amazon

    Mirin is a popular ingredient in stir-fries and marinades including teriyaki sauce. If you run into mirin (aka rice wine) in a recipe but don't have a bottle, use rice vinegar instead. It will add a very similar sweet and acidic element to your cooking.

    14. If you don't have mayonnaise, use avocado or hummus.

    A bowl of mashed avocado.
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    Mayonnaise is used to hold ingredients together and make food thicker and creamier (think: chicken salad, deviled eggs, coleslaw, and salad dressings for starters). If you're out of mayo, avocado or hummus are great alternatives. Mash some avocado in your chicken or tuna salad and it will still creamy and decadent. Schmear some hummus on your BLT sandwich and you're in for a treat.

    15. If you don't have peanut butter, use tahini — or any other nut butter, like almond butter.

    A bowl of tahini
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    Tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds) and peanut butter are two ingredients that you'll often find in sauces, marinades, curries, and even soups. While peanut butter is common in Thai and Asian cooking, you'll often see tahini in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern recipes. Both taste nutty and creamy, and can be used more or less interchangeably if you only have one on hand.