Homemade Substitutes For Baking Soda And Baking Powder

substitute for baking sodaBaking powder or baking soda is a commonly used ingredient to increase the volume and soften the dough.

Sodium Bicarbonate is the basic ingredient in baking soda/powder. For health reasons and taste, many of us like to use natural substitutes for baking powder and baking soda.

Sodium Bicarbonate is not agreeable to many individuals as it may produce side effects such as (1,2,3):

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Muscle spasm
  • Increased level of body ph
  • High levels of sodium in the blood
  • Seizures
  • Swelling in feet, ankles, and lower legs.

So, it is natural to seek alternatives to baking soda or powder.

There are many substitutes for baking soda for those who want to avoid sodium bicarbonate for health reason, taste or lack availability.

Difference Between Baking Powder And Baking Soda

Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents used in baking.

Sodium bicarbonate reacts with acid components which soften and rise-up the dough by creating air bubbles in it.

In the nomenclature of baking, Sodium bicarbonate is known in different names like bread soda, baking soda, cooking soda, and bicarbonate of soda.

What is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is just plain and pure sodium bicarbonate.

Sodium bicarbonate is a chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. This is a kind of salt that contains bicarbonate ions and sodium ions (4).

This white crystalline powder is slightly salty and alkaline in taste.

Baking soda needs to be combined with an acidic substance (such as buttermilk, lemon juice, etc.) to produce the leavening effect in baking.

Using baking soda with a natural acidic substance can produce a greater leavening effect than using the baking powder.

The shelf life of baking soda is indefinite where as the baking powder lasts only for a few months.

What Is Baking Powder?

Baking powder is different from baking soda because it contains an acid in addition to the sodium bicarbonate (5).

It usually contains filler like cream of tartar or cornstarch which add acidic content to it.

When this powder is mixed with water, the bicarbonate reacts with the acid. This is an acid-base reaction that releases carbon dioxide gas that forms bubbles in the dough (6). 

The carbon dioxide bubbles formed in the baking mixture (dough) expands and adds volume to bread, cake and other baked goods.

Baking powder is made by adding an acid component to sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

Substitute For Baking Soda

For many reasons, you may want to avoid the use of sodium bicarbonate in baking.

A few of the common foods items and dairy products in your kitchen can be used as a baking soda replacement.

There are also chemical leaveners used for giving cookies, cakes, and other baked goods their characteristic textures.

Let us now look at five baking soda alternatives that are healthy and effective for leavening the dough for baking.

1. Baker’s Yeast

Baker’s yeast is a fantastic replacement for baking soda.

It converts the fermentable sugars present in the dough into carbon dioxide and ethanol (6).

Baker’s yeast is either active dry yeast (where the east remains dormant due to lack of moisture) or compressed fresh yeast (where the yeast is alive and susceptible to perish soon).

Yeast produces different acids which aid in the fermentation of the dough.

Baker’s yeast is available in different forms according to the various levels of moisture contents in them.

The various types of baker’s yeast are cream yeast, compressed yeast, active dry yeast, instant yeast and rapid-rise yeast.

Nutritionists recommend the baker’s yeast as a healthy substitute to baking powder. Bread and other baked good fermented with yeast taste better and do not possess the bitter flavor of baking soda and powder (7).

According to the needs of the recipe and rising time, you may use as little as 1 teaspoon or up to 2 1/4 teaspoons (sometimes more) of instant yeast per pound (about 4 cups) of flour.

2. Baking Powder

Instead of baking soda, you can use the baking powder.

Using baking powder instead of baking soda is advantageous. It contains a proper blend of both sodium bicarbonate and acid needed for a strong leavening effect.

Baking powder need to be used 2-3 times more than the baking soda; if your recipe needs 1 tsp baking soda, then you have to use 3 tsps baking powder instead.

Some brands of baking powder also come with added flavor that gives better taste to the baked goods.

Do not use salt in the dough mixture together with baking powder as it will hinder the leavening effect of the baking powder. If needed, you can add salt while baking the leavened dough.

3. Potassium Bicarbonate

If you are wondering what to use instead of baking soda, then you can try potassium bicarbonate.

It is also a healthy option for people who have health issues with sodium intake and heart.

Potassium bicarbonate can be used for low sodium applications (8).

You can use an exactly same amount of potassium bicarbonate (1:1) instead of the sodium bicarbonate required for baking.

However, potassium bicarbonate does not go well with acidic liquids like sour cream, vinegar, butter milk, yogurt or citrus fruit juices. You can use water or plain milk instead of the acidic ingredients.

4. Club Soda

Club soda is a carbonated beverage that contains sodium bicarbonate.

You can use club soda in your recipes as a leavening agent instead of baking soda and baking powder (9).

However, the amount of sodium bicarbonate present in club soda may not be sufficient for preparing some of the recipes.

Bakers usually do not use milk or water in the recipe while using club soda.

Club soda is also beneficial for adding extra volume and lightness to the baked goods; suitable for making fluffy and moist pancakes.

5. Use Self-Rising Flour

If you do not want to take the trouble of mixing baking soda or powder with batter for baking, you can use the self-rising flour.

Self-rising flour is specially processed with a required amount of baking powder and added flavor to make your baking process easy.

Instead of using sodium bicarbonate, simply replace your regular flour with self-rising flour.

Substitute For Baking Powder

Many of the bakers do not prefer using baking powder for cooking as it comes with preloaded acidic content.

According to the requirements of the particular recipes, bakers like to use sodium bicarbonate and natural acidic foods or substances for leavening the dough.

Here are 9 substitutes for baking powder:

1. Molasses

Molasses is a by-product of sugar which is used as sweetener which contains organic acids (10).

It is a good alternative to baking powder or soda.

The acid content in molasses is capable of causing a strong acid-base reaction when it is mixed with baking soda.

You can replace 5 grams (1 teaspoon) of baking powder with ¼ cup (84 grams) molasses and ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda.

Molasses contain a high amount of sugar and liquid. When you are using molasses, you can reduce the volume of liquid and sweeteners to be added to the dough.

2. Yogurt

Yogurt is produced through fermentation of milk.

Plain yogurt contains a high concentration of lactic acid with low pH content (11). 

Yogurt is a perfect substitution for baking powder because of the acidic pH in it.

You can replace one teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder with 1 gram of baking soda and ½ cup (122 grams) of plain yogurt.

Since the yogurt is already liquid form, you can reduce the water to be added for making the dough.

Using yogurt makes the baking batter leavened without adding any flavor to it.

3. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is highly acidic as it contains a large amount of citric acid (12).

Lemon juice paired with baking soda is an excellent substitute for baking powder.

However, lemon juice has a strong flavor that alters the taste of the baked goods accordingly.

The desired taste of baked goods may not change if you are using only a few drops of lemon juice. Thus, it is best suited to use in recipes that need only small amount of baking powder. 

Using ½ teaspoon lemon juice with ¼ teaspoon baking soda is equivalent to using 1 teaspoon baking powder.

4. Vinegar

Vinegar, with acetic acid, is an excellent proxy for baking powder.

It is a commonly used in ingredient in baking and cooking in spite of its distinct flavor.

The acidic pH in vinegar can trigger a powerful acidic reaction with sodium bicarbonate.

There are many types of vinegar like balsamic vinegar, distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar, and rice vinegar.

For baking purposes, the distilled white vinegar is best as it has neutral taste and it will not alter the color of the baked product.

Every 5 grams of baking powder can be substituted with 2.5 grams of white vinegar and 1 gram baking soda.

5. Buttermilk

Butter milk, similar to the yogurt is a dairy product.

Butter milk can be made by churning the milk or by fermenting milk with the help of bacterial cultures.

During the process of fermentation, the sugar contained in the milk turns into acid. Lactic acid in buttermilk is produced by lactic acid bacteria while fermenting lactose, the primary sugar in milk (12).

Instead of baking powder, you can use a mixture of butter milk and baking soda.

Adding ½ a cup of buttermilk and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

Since the buttermilk is already in liquid form, you need to use a minimal amount of water and other liquid to the dough to maintain the consistency of the baked product.

6. Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar is an acidic white powder.

It is a byproduct of winemaking which has potassium hydrogen tartrate as the main chemical substance in it; it contains tartaric acid.

Cream of tartar paired with sodium bicarbonate is an excellent substitute for baking powder. 

Using it in baking is also beneficial for stabilizing the egg whites and creams, and for preventing the formation of sugar crystals.

Using ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of tartar is equivalent to 5 grams of baking powder.

7. Whipped Egg-Whites

Whipped egg-white is an effective ingredient for adding airy texture and lightness to the baked goods. –

For making pan pancakes, cakes, soufflés, and meringues whipped egg white is usually preferred by bakers instead of using baking powder or baking soda.

The amount of eggs-white required depends on the type of recipe. For example, a batch of pancakes may need only three eggs whites.

Tips On Choosing The Best Substitute

Most the baking soda substitutes will alter the taste and color of the baked goods.

While choosing the alternate to baking soda, you must pay attention to the flavor of the baked cakes or other goods.

For example, using molasses can make the baked goods sugary and thus it cannot be used for savory bread. But it can go well with sweet desserts and pancakes.

Using vinegar can give a sour taste to the baked products. It is not suitable for using in sweetened cakes. White vinegar may go well with the baking mixture that requires a very little amount of baking powder.

You also have to pay attention to other ingredients used in the recipe while choosing an alternative to baking soda. Make sure that the ingredients in the recipe are bendable with the baking powder substitute you are using.

It is important to adjust the liquid requirements of the dough mixture if you are using a liquid form replacement for baking powder.

The Bottom Line

Baking soda and baking powder are necessary ingredients commonly used by bakers for leavening.

If you do not want to use baking powder or baking soda, then there are a few chemical or organic substitutes you can use instead of them.

However, using replacements for sodium bicarbonate or acidic substances may change the taste and color of the final products.

To use the alternatives to baking powder, you may have to make few reductions or additions to the recipes.

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