Chef Jill's Pantry Substitutions

Chef Jill’s Fixes for Pantry Emergencies

You’re right in the middle of cooking a great dish, and you realize you don’t have one of the ingredients you need. Oh no!  “Never fear,” says CCKC Executive Chef Jill Garcia Schmidt.  There are a few pantry essentials that you probably already have on-hand that you can use as substitutions to save the day.

Here are a few of Chef Jill’s recommended pantry substitutions –

‘Stock in a Box’
Keep stock on-handWhen you need a little extra liquid for your recipe, reach for a box or can of stock or broth. (stock vs. broth – what’s the difference? Stock includes bones, so it tends to have a bit more flavor.  Use either. There are many varieties available – chicken, beef, vegetable, turkey, etc. Any will work, in a pinch.) If you don’t happen to have any stock available and you don’t have time for a trip to the market, use wine or get crazy and use juice, coconut water or even pop.

When you’re thickening a gravy or sauce, use either cornstarch or flour (in equal measure – one can be substituted for the other). If your baking recipe calls for cornstarch, you can substitute flour, just use less flour – and maybe even lighten in up with a bit of baking soda.  Keep in mind that cornstarch is gluten-free and all-purpose flour is not. So, if gluten in your recipe is a concern, make sure to substitute with a gluten-free flour.

If you are baking or frying and the recipe calls for coating with flour, there are a lot of options, like crushed potato chips, dried tortillas, croutons, dried potato mix or day-old bread made into crumbs.

Sour Cream
Sour CreamSour Cream is a good staple to have in your refrigerator. It’s an ingredient that adds moisture and helps bond your mixture together. Think cheeseball or dressing. It can be substituted for yogurt or many other dairy items in your recipe.  You can also use sour cream, mayo or yogurt as a brine to marinate meats.

If you don’t have the fresh herbs that are called for in your recipe, you can use dried herbs instead. However, use about half as much dried.

If you don’t have enough butter for your recipe, consider using coconut oil or olive oil instead. If you’re using an oil instead of butter for cooking over heat, try to partner a bit of butter with the oil, if you can.

ButtermilkYou need just a little bit of buttermilk and don’t want to buy a whole container?  Make your own!  Use a ratio of 1 cup whole milk + 1 tablespoon acidic liquid (such as apple or white vinegar, or lemon or lime juice). Yes, whole milk works best for this substitution.

Also, it’s not a substitution, but Chef Jill recommends keeping an Electric Knife handy in your kitchen. It makes cutting meat a breeze. So, we’re considering it a ‘pantry essential’.

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Watch the video below, as Chef Jill walks through her recommended pantry essentials you should keep on hand for emergency substitutions…

What are some other items you keep in your pantry for last-minute substitutions? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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