Holiday Ingredient Alternatives Ingredient Exchange Surplus Company Blog Dec ImagePost

Holiday Ingredient Alternatives

     Every year as the holidays approach, grocery goers share a similar experience: ransacked shelves of what formerly held the most sought-after ingredients for your Christmas confections. It’s an all too familiar feeling, the panic when realizing that this year’s meal may not include all of your famous family recipes. Before that Christmas cheer fades to fright, let’s review some ingredient alternatives to ensure your recipes are still a hit this season.

Holiday Ingredient Alternatives Ingredient Exchange Surplus Company Blog Dec ImagePost

Ingredient Alternative #1: Baking Powder

     One of the most popular ingredients used around the holidays is Baking Powder. The majority of Christmas treats like cookies, biscuits, and cakes call for the use of baking powder. Baking powder is primarily needed for leavening, which essentially provides a fluffier dough texture to your recipes.  Some recipes rely on yeast for leavening, which comes down to taste and preferences.

What do you do if you don’t have baking powder on hand and you still want to prepare your favorite dish? There is a substitute: buttermilk!

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product with a sour, slightly tangy taste. Due to its natural acidity, by combining buttermilk with baking soda you can produce the same leavening effect as baking powder. The same is true for plain yogurt. Combine a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. It’s just that simple! Keeping these extras handy is sure to make a fa-la-la-la-lasting impression.

Ingredient Alternative #2: Butter

     Coming in at number two on the nation’s holiday recipe nice list, the second most utilized holiday food ingredient is butter. Butter is a truly vital element in almost any baked treat. Butter adds a savory flavor to sauces, side dishes, and most importantly, sweet treats. Unfortunately, as delicious as butter can be, the downside is the extra calories. Maybe even Santa Clause has added on some extra pre-holiday weight by indulging in a few extra cookies and is starting to think the chimneys are getting a bit tight. 

In that case, we have just what you need, here are a few healthy alternatives to limit this year’s cookie calorie count and reduce the use of butter.  

Applesauce is a great alternative to limit the fat content and calories in baked goods. However, it does add sweetness, so you may want to reduce the amount of sugar in your recipes to get that same balance of flavor. 

Another healthy alternative to butter is avocados. They add loads of nutrients and even healthy fats to your recipes. [Pro Elf tip: Be sure to use some other darker-colored ingredients like chocolate or food dye to hide the green tint from using the fruit.]

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Ingredient Alternative #3: Chocolate

     The third most used ingredient on our list is everyone’s fan favorite, chocolate. It’s a holiday staple and for most households, is a crucial component of many Christmas indulgences. If I could offer some advice, hide a bit of the stuff in the pantry to help unwind after your guests have departed. You deserve to treat yo’elf! 

In the unfortunate event you are unable to find any chocolate, consider using unsweetened cocoa or carob powder, which are both more often available. But be warned, if you normally use sweet chocolate for baking, it is suggested for every 4 ounces of sweet baking chocolate typically used, substitute 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa/carob powder plus 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of melted cooking oil or shortening. This is sure to leave you with that same sweet sensation you’ve always delivered in your Christmas cookies. 

So, next time your pantry looks like your favorite store’s aisles after Black Friday, don’t show your resting grinch face. Just remember these helpful tips and alternatives, and you’re sure to be feeling just pine. As any respectable elf knows, good things come to those who bake, so don’t let missing ingredients keep you from enjoying your yuletide delights this holiday season.



Ingredient Exchange has been serving the food ingredient market for 27 years. If you have an ingredient challenge, we want to help.


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