The Major Substitution Mistake You Need To Be Mindful Of

At some point or another, you've probably had to modify a recipe. Whether you've forgotten to pick up the eggs necessary to make a devilishly decadent chocolate cake or are keen to vegan-ize a cheesy mashed potato recipe, substitutions are there to help. And they are usually able to produce a result that's as close to the original dish as possible. These replacements are a godsend — when used within reason, that is.

Trade eggs for flax seeds. Swap butter for lard. Let agave nectar fill in for honey. Improvise bread crumbs by crushing up crackers. While these alternatives can all work great in a pinch, there are a few things to consider, such as how ingredient ratios may change, along with cook times, and even how the final result will be impacted. And the most important thing to remember when making substitutions is not to over-do it. Making one or two ingredient adjustments is more than acceptable, but begin making substitutions for the entire ingredient list and this is when things get challenging. After all, too much of anything (even ingredient swaps) can quickly turn bad.

Substitute ingredients but only in moderation

Before having to entertain too many substitutions, it's best to prevent doing so in the first place. Start by reading a recipe in its entirety and making a list of what's required. Depending on the recipe, you might also need to plan ahead, should certain ingredients need time to ripen. If you've done all you can to avoid making substitutions and are still forced to make last-minute modifications, make trades wisely.

First, consider whether using an alternative ingredient will make sense. For example, if you have your heart set on whipping up truffle tagliatelle, the recipe will undoubtedly require truffles to impart the earthiness needed for the dish. However, if a grilled cheese recipe calls for mozzarella and all you have is a vegan version, make the exchange without a second thought.

Additionally, it's best if you don't mess around with too many of the other key components. Should you find yourself modifying almost every ingredient on the list, it might just be better to abandon the recipe for another that can better accommodate your needs, as minimal adjustments are really the only way to guarantee a dish's flavor and texture in contrast to experimental swaps.