5 Simple Recipe Substitutions

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There's nothing worse than being elbow-deep in an exciting recipe, only to realize it calls for an ingredient you don't have. But there is a way around the situation that doesn't involve keeping your kitchen stocked with items you won't get much use out of. Read on for five slightly unusual ingredients many recipes call for and an easy substitution for each.

  • Shallots:
    You can substitute: A combination of garlic and white onion.
    Shallots are closely related to onions and have a similar flavor, but have more pungency and depth than a standard onion. Toss a minced clove of garlic in with your onion for a pretty close approximation of shallot's flavor.
  • Pancetta:
    You can substitute: Unsmoked bacon
    Pancetta is also known as Italian bacon, so it stands to reason that you can sub in plain ol' bacon for its European counterpart. Be sure you're using an unsmoked bacon, though to match pancetta's flavor as nearly as possible and avoid overpowering your dish.
  • Self-Rising Flour:
    You can substitute: Flour, baking powder, and salt
    Self-rising flour isn't really a special type of flour; it's just ground extra fine and has leavening agents added, which helps eliminate a couple steps as you're baking. You can re-create it by adding one and a half teaspoons of baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of all-purpose flour.
  • Meyer Lemon:
    You can substitute: Half lemon, half orange
    Meyer lemons are actually a hybrid between lemons and mandarin oranges. Their flavor is sweeter and milder than a regular lemon, but more tart than a standard orange. Mix equal parts lemon and orange juice (or zest, depending on your recipe) for a close match.
  • Buttermilk:
    You can substitute: Regular milk with lemon juice
    Strange as it sounds, buttermilk is essentially fermented milk, which is made by adding acid to the milk. Create your own version by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk, let it sit for five minutes, then use as the recipe directs.


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