Posted By John
Food Substitution Chart

AUSTRALIAN CUISINE HAS been shaped by the people who settled in Australia. For the majority of Australian history, food traditions were based on the native bush foods of indigenous Australians.

British and Irish cooking came to Australia with the arrival of the settlers in the late 18th century. The 19th and 20th century immigrants from the Mediterranean and Asian culture had an influence on the Australia cuisine during this period.

Today food eaten by Aussies shows a world-wide influence and includes organic and biodynamic, Kosher and Halal foods. British traditions are still dominant in takeaway foods as well as home cooking, with pies and fish and chips always an Aussie favourite.

Digestive Biscuits (Aussie)
Graham Crackers (USA)
These two items are fairly different, but are used in a similar way such as making crumb crusts for cheesecake.

In recipes calling for digestive biscuits, Americans and Canadians often use Graham Crackers as a substitute.

The sweeter graham crackers come in a variety of flavours like cinnamon and chocolate.

Digestive biscuits are richer, and while slightly sweet, are often eaten with cheese. They are also available coated on one side with milk or dark chocolate.

Sweet Potato
Do not substitute the New Zealand kumera for a sweet potato. It has quite a different taste. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, it was a staple of the Maori in New Zealand and is still popular throughout the Pacific region.

In the USA they grow two basic types of sweet potato.  One is commonly called a yam although it is not a true yam. It has a darker, thicker skin with vivid sweeter orange-coloured flesh inside. When cooked, it’s generally moister than the normal sweet potato.

Both the Aussies and Yanks use the word zucchini for the green summer squash. If you see the word ‘courgette’ in a recipe, that’s simply a French term for zucchini.

Australian American
Eggs, Meat & Fish
Balmain Bug small, sweet crayfish
prawns shrimp
king prawns jumbo shrimp
sausage (banger) link sausage
minced beef ground beef
mince meat ground meat
skirt steak flank steak
devon bologna
skirt steak flank steak
Fruit, Vegetables & Spices
rocket lettuce arugula (rugula, rucola)
eggplant aubergine (UK)
shallots scallions, green onions
spring onion scallion
Spanish onion onion, purple / red
coriander cilantro (Chinese parsley)
capsicum – red, yellow, green bell pepper – red, yellow, green
beetroot round beets
haricot beans navy beans
silverbeet chard
chickpeas garbanzos
rockmelon cantaloupe
sultanas golden raisins
paw paw papaya
stone, seed, pip pits
pips seeds
Prepared Foods
gherkin pickle
apple crumble crisps
tomato sauce ketchup or catsup
tomato puree tomato sauce
jelly (Aeroplane Jelly) gelatine desert (Jello)
conserve or jam jelly
biscuits cookies
scones biscuits
Rice Bubbles Rice Crispies
potato chips potato chips (potato crisps – UK)
chips French fries
ice blocks (Icy Poles) popsicles


AUSTRALIAN FOOD CONFUSION  An American was chatting with an Aussie on the Internet, when she said she had to stop to make her hungry son a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (also called P B & J). The confused Aussie said she had never heard of a “dessert” sandwich.

It took a while for the equally confused American to discover that jelly to Aussies is the same as Jello (gelatine) to her. In other words, the Aussie wanted to know why her friend would want to eat a Jello and peanut butter sandwich.

The cultural differences in food can be quite entertaining. However, when you’re trying to use a recipe from another country, it’s nice to know what they’re talking about. You’ll find on this page some common cooking conversions.

Cornflour (Australia)
Cornstarch (USA)
In Australia cornflour is frequently made from wheat and it is usually described as wheaten cornflour. There are some brands of cornflour that are made from maize, however.

Cornflower/cornstarch is used to thicken sauces. It has no taste of its own to interfere with your recipe. To use it, blend with double the amount of cold liquid. Stir it into the sauce to be thickened. Keep stirring as the mixture comes to a boil. It will thicken and become clear.


Cooking with fats can be rather tricky when you’re substituting one for another. In general, you can substitute butter for shortening.

For most things that substitution works for me, however, in a bickies recipe I have, it didn’t work. They were runny when baked and looked awful. Luckily they tasted good, but not good enough to

serve to anyone. I’m still working on that recipe.

Crisco Vegetable Shorteningis a white, solid fat made from vegetable oil (soybean and palm oil). If you see a recipe calling for Crisco, they’re talking about vegetable shortening. (Crisco is a brand name.)

You’ll find Crisco a common ingredient in US cooking. It is used for frying, cakes, pastry and frostings as well as other things.

Australian American
full-cream milk whole milk
skim milk skim or fat free or non-fat milk
light or lite milk 2% milk
cream, whipping cream, heavy
cream, single cream, half and half
cream, double cream, thick
Baking and Baked Goods
flour, plain flour, all-purpose
flour, self raising flour, self-rising
flour, whole meal flour, whole wheat
corn flour cornstarch
bicarbonate of soda baking soda
chillies chilli pepper
essence extract
vanilla essence vanilla extract
glace fruits candied fruits
zest, lemon, etc zest or rind, lemon, etc
desiccated coconut shredded, dried coconut
stock cubes bullion cubes
copha * vegetable shortening from coconuts
golden syrup ** corn or cane syrup
molasses or treacle molasses
icing frosting
icing sugar powdered or confectioners sugar
caster sugar *** sugar, granulated (but finer)
hundreds & thousands sprinkles (closest equivalent)
chocolate, cooking chocolate, baking
cocoa cocoa powder
Baking Tools
baking tray cookie sheet
oven slide cookie sheet
cake cooler wire rack
cake tin baking pan
ring tin tube pan
Swiss roll tin jelly roll pan
lamington tin 13″ x 9″ x 2″ pan
greaseproof paper wax paper
patty cups paper cupcake holders
tea towel dish towel
trolley shopping cart
frying pan frying
griller (separate from oven) broiler (inside oven)

Copha is the brand name for solidified coconut oil. Available in solid blocks or cubes, it is white but becomes clear when melted. Copha is high in saturated fat and trans-fats.

While some people use lard as a replacement, you might want to try vegetable shortening or butter instead for a healthier alternative.

Michele and several other Americans have written me to say that Copha is NOT an alternative to white vegetable shortening (Crisco). If you are making frosting or anything that needs to be whipped, do not use copha.


Double cream has a fat content of 48% making it very rich. It’s the most versatile of the creams because it can be boiled, whipped and frozen well.

Thickened cream has a fat content of at least 35%.

Single cream has a fat content of at least 18%. It’s also known as pouring cream and commonly used in soups, sauces and desserts.

Creme fraiche has a fat content of at least 35%. It’s a naturally fermented cream with a velvety texture.  Used in both sweet and savoury dishes, creme fraiche has a slightly tangy, nutty flavour. It’s a good choice when you need a cream that can boil without curdling.

Sugar and Other Sweeteners

Always remember, while a certain substitute might work fine for one recipe, it may not for another. So always test a recipe before using it for an important event. Or try it on a friend who has a good sense of humour and loves an adventure.

** Golden syrup is similar to corn syrup in the USA. For a sweet flavour choose light corn syrup and for a slightly molasses flavour choose dark corn syrup. (If you see a recipe calling for Karo, they’re talking about corn syrup in the US.) You’ll need to experiment to find which type of corn syrup works for the particular recipe you’re trying.

*** Caster sugar is a bit finer than granulated sugar in the USA. The only thing that’s about as close in the US is superfine sugar. However, for most recipes you can use caster sugar for granulated sugar.

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