We love a good ingredient dupe—be it pasta, cheese, or even meat. They make it easy for all of us to enjoy the foods we love no matter what our dietary circumstances. Things can get complicated, though, when you’re substituting a base ingredient of a recipe, especially when baking. That’s because there’s usually a bit of chemistry involved, and it can be difficult to get alternative ingredients that will reliably perform like their counterparts down to the molecular level.
There are four base ingredients—butter, cream, eggs, and flour—that we have found excellent alternatives for, and these will quickly become essentials in your clean cooking arsenal.
This vegan butter is a game changer. We love that it has only a few ingredients and is mainly made up of organic coconut oil and organic cashew milk. It melts well, spreads beautifully over toast, and bakes up like a dream in chewy cookies or moist cakes, and we’ve even been able to achieve browning with it. The other thing that makes this vegan butter so delicious is that it’s cultured. You’ll find cultured butter quite often in Europe; it means that live active cultures are added to the base mix to slightly ferment it before it’s churned. The result is a deeply flavorful, well-rounded, almost nutty-tasting butter. That’s what makes this the only vegan butter we’d gladly eat as is on good bread, and it adds that much more dimension when cooking or baking with it, too.
The trickiest part about cooking with milk and cream alternatives is that they rarely have a neutral flavor. Silk’s heavy cream alternative is surprisingly neutral, with just the slightest hint of coconut on the finish—it’s not enough to be detectable once other ingredients are in the mix. It’s super versatile. Use it in creamy desserts, pasta sauces, custards, and quiche. It even whips up like regular cream. Though we have yet to attempt it, we have seen videos of people successfully using it in homemade vegan caramel sauce, which sounds incredible.
When we were researching plant-based meats, we came across this egg alternative. As a scrambled egg, it’s a remarkable dupe. Fluffy, creamy texture and just enough of an eggy flavor without tasting of sulfur or artificial flavors. In addition to being a nice alternative for scrambles, omelets, and frittatas, it can stand in for eggs in most baked goods as well. Just measure out about 3 to 4 tablespoons or 1½ to 2 ounces of JUST Egg for every egg in the recipe. The only time you wouldn’t want to use this sub in baking is when a recipe calls for airy whipped eggs or egg whites, like in sponge cakes or meringues.
Replacing the flour in recipes to make them gluten-free used to be a challenge, because you often need a blend of a few different flours to mimic the characteristics of wheat flour. Now there are many ready-made blends that can easily be subbed into your cooking and baking projects. Our favorite is Cup4Cup. It was developed by chefs from the three–Michelin star restaurant The French Laundry so that they could still accommodate gluten-free diners with their tasting menus. Working with this flour is an absolute dream. As the name suggests, it’s a reliable one-for-one swap for regular flour, and the blend gets very close to the texture of the real thing.