Tips on converting favorite recipes



Maybe you have a favorite family recipe, like your mom’s chocolate cake, that you can no longer eat because you are gluten free.  Or maybe you saw this awesome recipe online or in a magazine, but, sigh, you just skipped it because you know you can’t eat it.  Well, I can help!

I have converted many cake and savory recipes into gluten-free deliciousness.  I would like to share some tips on how you can do the same.  Most recipes are pretty straight forward conversions.

Let’s break this down into categories:

Choosing your recipe:

  1. choose a recipe that is easy to convert.  By this, I mean one that doesn’t have too many ingredients that need converting.  Start with a simple recipe.
  2. Read over the ingredients list and make sure that there are gluten free or dairy free substitutes available.
  3. Choose a recipe that doesn’t use 5 types of gluten free flour.  Pick one that uses wheat flour.

Using gluten free flour:

  1. Your best flour for conversion of wheat flour recipes is a cup for cup substitute, such as King Arthur measure for measure.  A lot of recipes call for specific flour blends.  This will leave you with a lot of flour blends you won’t use again.
  2.  Bisquick gluten-free mix can be subbed for regular Bisquick cup for cup.
  3. Use recipe specific flour blends.  If you are making a King Arthur recipe, use the King Arthur flour specified in the recipe.  Do not use another brand of flour mix; they have different ratios of flour and leavening.  Your baked goods might not come out right.
  4. Do not make your own flour blends.  Each recipe will call for a different blend, and no one has that much pantry space.
  5. Rice flour can be used in gravies and sauces as a thickening agent in place of regular flour.  Do not use flour blends.  Rice flour can also be used as a base for breading when a recipe calls for a flour coating before breading with bread crumbs.
  6. You can make a roux with rice flour and dairy free spread or oil.

Using dairy free milk products:

  1. You can sub any dairy free milk in most recipes.  DO NOT try to make a cheese sauce (scalloped potatoes) in the oven.  It will curdle.  See why here.
  2. You can make your own buttermilk by stirring in one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to each cup of dairy free milk, and letting it sit for about 20 minutes.
  3. Dairy free spread can be subbed for butter
  4. Dairy free Enjoy life chocolate chips are the best sub for chocolate chips.
  5. Dairy free milk can be used in white sauce with flour as a thickening agent.
  6. Dairy free yogurt can be used in baking and as a sub for sour cream
  7. Dairy free cream cheese does not hold up well when baked in a cheesecake.  Choose a no-bake recipe.  Here is why I don’t recommend it (from a previous blog post):

If there is one thing I truly miss it is cheesecake.  And since I went dairy free it became a personal challenge to find a gluten free dairy free cheesecake recipe.   So I started reading up on dairy-free cream cheese.  Opinions abounded, but like anything it is down to personal taste.  The clear winner in reviews seemed to be tofutti.  So I ran over to the health food store and gathered the ingredients to make Oreo cheesecake.  If this did not turn out it would be a $40 failure.

Now I have to tell you, I do not like the taste of dairy free cream cheese.  But it figured under all of that chocolate and sugar it might be ok.   Boy was I wrong.  Th first disaster was the Oreo crust.  I do not have a food processor.  So I proceeded to crush the cookies by hand in a ziplock bag.  Unless you are the hulk, those cookies will not be small enough.   I mixed them up with dairy free butter and tried to press them into the springform pan.  That being done,  I mixed up the cheesecake batter.  Pouring it into the crust, I held my breath and slipped it gently into the oven.

Once it cooled off then  came the moment of truth.  Yup, I had Oreo quiche.  Yuck.   Not to mention the tooth breaking crust.  It was like cement.   Now I hate to waste food but out it went.  Sorry I no longer have the recipe.  I couldn’t bear to be reminded.


Ok, let’s take a recipe and I will explain how you can convert it.  Please be advised I have NOT made this recipe.  This is for informational purposes only.

This is a recipe for Apple Cake from


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shredded, peeled apples (about 2 medium)
1 cup chopped walnuts

The first substitute is the butter.  I would sub the same amount of dairy free spread.  The  next substitute is the flour.  I would use a cup-for-cup blend here.  The rest of the recipe stays the same.  I would leave out the nuts due to allergies, but you can certainly add them.


Here is a savory recipe that I have converted.  It was delicious!

Chicken, bacon and spinach lasagna


  • 700g boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 225g pre-cooked lasagne sheets (you’ll need about 20 sheets all up)
  • 200g ready-grated mozzarella
  • 200g baby spinach leaves
  • 140g bacon cut into strips
  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 500ml milk (full cream or skim works)
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves

I know the ingredients are in grams and milliliters, but I am using this as an example of items that need to be converted to gluten or dairy free.

I have the recipe converted to US measures here.

Your first substitution is the lasagna.  I used Tinkayada with very good results.  I cooked it according to the package directions.  The texture was spot on.

I used dairy free shredded mozzarella,  rice flour, and dairy free parmesan.  I used unsweetened coconut milk.

So you see, converting recipes is not difficult at all.  But there are some exceptions. Biscuits do not translate well, nor does pizza.  Yeast bread does not work with gluten free flour unless the recipe is specifically gluten free.

Please share any recipes you would like converted.

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