Healthy Kitchen Hacks #23 – Surprising Substitutions Edition

How to Make Pumpkin Pie Spice. Substitution for Liquid Smoke. Substitution for Fish Sauce. Substitution for Honey. Substitution for Nutritional Yeast.

Substitution for Liquid Smoke, Substitution for Fish Sauce, Substitution for Honey, Substitution for Nutritional Yeast, How to Make Pumpkin Pie Spice

Do you ever pull out a basic cookbook and turn to the back to check out the “Emergency Substitutions” chart? If not, they are great resources. So is Google. Of course.

But Google doesn’t always deliver a tried-and-true substitute. So, I’ve been keeping a list of some of the subs I’ve made lately – that really DO work – and are certainly not on the back page of my red and white checkered Better Homes & Garden cookbook.

Here are 5 surprising kitchen substitutions that just might save your recipe:

1) No Fish Sauce? No Problem
Via @Eat By Date
#HealthyKitchenHacks - Substitution for Fish Sauce - Worcestershire Sauce @TspCurry

Fish sauce is found in Asian dishes from salads to stir-fries; it gives that deep unami kick. But what if your cupboard is bare of that fishy ingredient? In a pinch, substitute Worcestershire Sauce for fish sauce. Why? Anchovies are the one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire Sauce. And fish sauce is basically anchovies + salt.

Worcestershire sauce is slightly sweeter than fish sauce because it contains a small amount of molasses (and some Worcestershire contains high fructose corn syrup – so look for brands without.) The proportion is basically 1:1, but to make this substitution really work, add tart lime or another acid to balance things out. Check out this table for amounts.

2) Sweet Substitution for Honey

#HealthyKitchenHacks - Substitution for Honey - Light Corn Syrup - @TspCurry

I would have rather used honey in these No Bake Almond Granola Bars from Alex @DeliciousKnowledge. And I always usually have honey in my cupboard. Except when I didn’t.

So, my options were: 1) Disappointing my kids to whom I’d promised the granola bars in their lunches 2) Substitute light corn syrup for honey – in a scant amount – and getting smiles all around.

I chose #2 and Alex’s bars turned out so, so delish with a few tablespoons less corn syrup than the called-for amount of honey. (FYI, corn syrup is NOT the same as high fructose corn syrup.)

3) How to Make Pumpkin Pie Spice
via Erin @The Humbled Homemaker

#HealthyKitchenHacks - How to Make Pumpkin Pie Spice - @TspCurry

Erin shows you the spices to make your own spice mix.

Here’s my own recipe for HOMEMADE PUMPKIN PIE SPICE:

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Just mix together the above spices in a small bowl. (You can easily double the recipe.)

Make your own pumpkin spice latte and save coffee cash. Sprinkle homemade pumpkin pie spice onto fresh coffee grounds and then brew. Add milk for your own PSL! 

4) Spicy Sub for Liquid Smoke
via Elizabeth @Don’t (White) Sugar Coat It

Substitution for Liquid Smoke - Smoked Paprika and Smoked Salt @TspCurry

Liquid smoke appears to be making a retro comeback. I’ve seen it lately in smoked tofu, barbecue sauces, vegan bacon and cocktails. (And no, it’s not weird chemicals – it’s basically water collected over smoke.) I recently added it to this easy-to-make, protein-packed Bacon Turkey Jerky.

But if you don’t have liquid smoke, smoked paprika is a yummy smoky sub. Elizabeth shows you the how to substitute smoked paprika for liquid smoke in her amazing-looking recipe for Vegan Caesar Salad with Beet Bacon.

(And one more sub in the above photo – smoked salt – if you happen to have that.)

5) Nutritional Yeast Substitutions

#HealthyKithcneHacks - Nutritional Yeast Substitution - @TspCurry

Another ingredient comeback. I’ve been seeing all sorts of delicious-looking recipes using nutritional yeast like Vegan Creamed Spinach via Meme @Living Well Kitchen and Veggie Burgers via Jess @Dietitian Jess.

Flaky nutritional yeast is a flavor powerhouse as an ingredient: Nutty, cheesy, a bit bitter and lots of savory unami. It’s often used as a vegan cheese substitute like in these “Cheezy” Roasted Tomatoes via @Carrie On Living.

Using Carrie’s recipe, I tried two nutritional yeast substitutes:

Would you try any of these hacks? Do you have healthy kitchen or healthy living shortcuts to share? Shoot us an email ( or ) or share below and we’ll try them out.


We’re Serena & Deanna, two dietitians who love food as much as you do!  

We're also moms and business owners who share our family recipes, healthy kitchen hacks and nutrition adventures while keeping it real in the kitchen with you.

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