How to Become A Swap Savant

Just because you don’t have the called-for ingredients on hand doesn’t mean your recipe has to go out the window.

There’s definitely something in here that you can substitute for tapioca starch…

We’ve all been there–you pick a recipe, maybe you don’t read all the way through it, you plan to cook it, and then as you’re moving through the steps you realize you are missing an ingredient. Or a last-minute guest has an allergy or aversion you weren’t aware of. Never fear: there is (almost) always a swap option to get you through to a delicious meal!


OILS : So-called “neutral” oils are extremely interchangeable. They’re known for delivering cooking power at high temperatures, but because their flavors aren’t very strong, you can easily replace one with another. If a recipe calls for peanut oil but you have a person with an allergy, you can reach for canola, sunflower, grapeseed, and/or vegetable oil.

GREENS : If you’re like us (and if you’re reading this, we bet you are!), you enjoy the thrill of swapping seasonal produce into recipes all year long. When a recipe calls for mild, tender greens, you can use chard, spinach, tatsoi, mache, and other soft lettuces interchangeably. If it’s mild-yet-crunchy you’re looking for, collards, cabbage, and bok choy can all meet your needs. Your tender-bitter greens will come in the form of arugula, radish greens, mizuna, and radicchio, and your firm-bitters are kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens.

DAIRY : When your stovetop savory recipe asks for butter but you have a lactose-intolerant friend, olive oil is your flavor-packed hero. Got milk but need cream? Thicken 1 cup milk with 1-2 tbsp cornstarch or flour, whisking milk into the starch/flour slowly so you don’t get any lumps. Got cream but need milk? Add a splash of water to thin it out. Gotta forgo liquid dairy all together? Coconut milk/cream (depending on what your desired flavor is) or oat milk (make your own!) will have you covered.

EGGS : Applesauce, mashed bananas, ground flaxseed, and soft tofu are all ready to step up to the plate, depending on your recipe’s flavor and texture needs!


SOY SAUCE : Not everybody keeps soy sauce on hand, and some folks have allergies to its ingredients. If this sounds like your situation, consider grabbing some worcestershire, liquid aminos, or shoyu. In a pinch, you can also whisk together miso paste and water.

VANILLA EXTRACT : Vanilla bean prices are reaching skyward, but you probably have the solution to your recipe dilemma sitting right on top of your bar cart. That’s right–rum, bourbon, and brandy can all bring vanilla’s depth of flavor without breaking the bank.

CORN STARCH : Don’t doubt the power of a thickener! Whether you have corn starch, AP flour, arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, rice flour, or potato starch on-hand, you’ll always have an option to get the ultimate texture in your food. Since most recipes will first call for corn starch, consider these replacement ratios when determining what you’ll need:

1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1-1 1/2 tbsp potato starch
2 tbsp AP flour, rice flour, tapioca starch