Substitute For Baking Powder

If you have a pantry, there is a high likelihood that there is baking powder lurking somewhere in its shadows.

Take a Look ↓↓↓

Whether you use it regularly or not, it is a very common ingredient in many baking recipes. If a cake or pancake needs more volume or a lighter texture, baking powder will come to the rescue.

If you’re in the mood for a baking session and realized you’re all out of baking powder, do not despair! Fortunately, there are a range of other ingredients that act as great substitutes instead. And the even better news is that you probably have some of these in your kitchen right now!

Whether you’ve run out or you have to bake for someone with a food allergy, we are going to guide you through the best alternatives for the magic ingredient baking powder. Get ready to have soft and fluffy baking goods!

Baking Powder: What is it?

First, we should look at what baking powder is and how it works so well in different baking recipes.

Baking powder is essentially a leavening agent that is regularly used in baking. This magic ingredient helps make your baked goods soft and fluffy with more volume.

It contains a mixture of sodium bicarbonate (known as a base in chemistry and baking soda to the rest of us) and an acid such as cream of tartar. It can also contain a buffer/filler (i.e. cornstarch).

The magic behind how baking powder makes baked goods rise is through chemistry. When baking powder is combined with water, its acid reacts with the sodium bicarbonate and releases carbon dioxide gas into a batter or dough through an acid-base reaction.

This results in the formation of various bubbles which cause the mixture to expand. You are then left with added volume for all manners of baked goods.

So next time you are tucking into your fluffy pancakes and skyscraper muffins, thank good old baking powder because, without this ingredient, your pancakes, cakes, muffins, and more baked goods would probably be heavy and flat.

Many people get confused between baking powder and baking soda. However, while you may believe they are the same, this simply isn’t true. Baking soda only consists of sodium bicarbonate and doesn’t include the vital acid component. In order to have an equal leavening effect as baking powder, soda has to be combined with an acid.

As you can see, the equation is quite simple. Put acid and salt together and this equals fluffy baked goods.

Now that you know what baking powder is, let’s delve into the different substitutes for baking powder that you may have lying around.

Substitutes for baking powder

There are many substitutes for baking powder. Some are better than others but let’s take a look at the best 10 below so you can get baking as soon as possible.

Vinegar

No, it’s not a misprint. Vinegar is, indeed, a fantastic substitute for baking powder in baked goods. When you combine this with baking soda, carbon dioxide gas is released. This causes the baked goods to rise.

To replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder, all you need is ½ teaspoon of vinegar and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. This shouldn’t affect the taste much either which is always a positive.

Nonetheless, if you’re worried about your pancake smelling and tasting like white vinegar, add a pinch more sugar to the recipe as this should offset any vinegar taste.

Buttermilk

This fermented dairy product is a superb alternative to baking powder. It has a slightly tangy, sour taste that is a little like plain yogurt.

Unless you find traditional, old-fashioned buttermilk which is created as a by-product of sweet cream that is churned into butter, you will probably end up with the commercial kind.

Commercial buttermilk is generally formed by combining bacterial cultures with milk. This is then left to ferment which breaks down the sugars into acids.

With this acid, buttermilk can be mixed with baking soda which produces a very similar leavening effect as baking powder.

To substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder, add ½ a cup (122 grams) of buttermilk and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda into your ingredients.

It is recommended you decrease the number of other liquids in your recipe by the same amount of buttermilk added if you want to maintain a certain consistency and texture. This will compensate for the added buttermilk. 

Plain yogurt

Plain yogurt is another great choice for substituting baking powder as it provides the required amount of acidity to leaven out the goods. Furthermore, you probably already have this in your fridge as you read this!

To replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder in your recipe, use ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and ½ a cup of plain yogurt.

Again, you must reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe to compensate for the yogurt. This shouldn’t have any effect on the overall taste as it has a neutral flavor but if you want to add extra flavors, consider using vanilla or berry yogurt.

Lemon Juice

Remember that sum? Acid + salt = fluffy baked goods. Well, lemon juice contains a very high amount of citric acid and is, therefore, very acidic and a solid alternative to baking powder. 

The acid in lemon juice can trigger an acid-base reaction when combined with baking soda. One downside, however, is its strong flavor so lemon juice is best used in recipes that require a small amount of baking powder.

To substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and ½ a teaspoon of lemon juice for the desired result.

Molasses

As with buttermilk, molasses is formed as a by-product but this time from sugar production. It is often used as an alternative to refined sugar and, of course, baking powder.

Molasses is acidic enough to cause an acid-base reaction when paired with baking soda.

Simply add ¼ (84 grams) a cup of molasses with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

As molasses is very high in sugar content, it may be worth reducing the amount of sweetener in the recipe as well as the amount of liquid.

Club soda

Every substitute we have mentioned so far involved baking soda but what if you don’t have any baking powder or soda available? It’s simple! Just add something that is carbonated.

The main objective of baking powder is to create bubbles. Club soda already contains this bubbly fizz. Just add unflavored seltzer, or soda if the flavor matches what you’re baking, into the batter.

It is worth noting that club soda doesn’t contain much sodium bicarbonate so it is best when used in recipes that don’t require much volume such as pancakes. 

For optimal results, replace all the liquid in your recipe with soda. However, don’t do this if the original liquid is the main contributor to the recipe’s flavor.

Cream of Tartar

Also referred to as potassium hydrogen tartrate, cream of tartar is another acidic alternative. It is a white powder that is formed as the by-product of winemaking.

Many chefs use cream of tartar to stabilize egg whites and creams in certain recipes. It also works well at preventing any sugar crystals from forming.

This is a very convenient substitute for baking powder and is easy to use and find. Just head down to your local grocery store and you should find it on the spice aisle.

To take over from 1 teaspoon of baking powder, use ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and ½ a teaspoon of tartar. For the best results, stay with a 2:1 ratio of tartar to baking soda.

Self rising flour

The name pretty much gives this one away!

Self rising flour is made from a combination of baking powder, salt, and all-purpose flour. It includes everything you need to fluff out the pancakes and see those goods rise to new heights and all without the need for baking soda.

If you have self raising flour in your kitchen, it can act as a tremendous substitute for regular flour in your recipes.

Sour milk

Most people just throw away sour milk but it can act as a great alternative to baking powder. This is because milk that is soured has gone through an acidification process which cuts down pH levels.

The acidity found in sour milk reacts with baking soda, resulting in the same leavening effect as baking powder.

Replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder with ½ a cup of sour milk and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. As with most liquid substitutes on this list, reduce the amount of liquids in the recipe by the same amount of sour milk that is added.

Whipped egg whites

If you thought baking powder was magical, you should see how important egg whites are in many recipes.

A lot of baked goods have light and airy textures due to whipped egg whites and not baking powder. As egg whites become whipped, they create minuscule air bubbles that expand the volume and lightness of the baked goods.

You will often witness this method in pancakes, meringues, soufflés, and many types of cakes. If you have no baking powder or soda at hand, this is a very useful alternative.

The amount of whipped egg whites varies from recipe to recipe. If you want to make a batch of pancakes, you will probably need around two or three egg whites while larger cakes may require over 10.

You can get your egg whites wonderfully light and fluffy by whipping them at a low speed. Wait until they are foamy. Then, increase the speed until the eggs are beaten enough to form soft peaks. Once this is achieved, mix your remaining ingredients into the egg whites.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a substitute for 1 tablespoon of baking powder?

If you don’t want to use baking powder, there are other ingredients that you can use instead. The most obvious choice is baking soda.

If you don’t have baking soda or baking powder, you can use other things instead. For instance, you can use plain yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar and lemon juice.

Ultimately, what you choose will largely depend on the recipe so you should check if the ingredient in question will work with your recipe. 

What happens if you don't use baking powder?

Baking powder is important to a large number of recipes, especially if you’re baking. With that being said though, you may not always have baking powder available to you.

With that in mind, what happens if you don’t use it?

Baking powder is important because it helps your baked goods to rise in the oven. This can be rather annoying if you are baking something like a cake.

For things like cookies and banana bread, it’s possible to bake without baking powder, but the dough isn’t going to rise as well.

There is a solution, however. If you’re making a cake, for instance, you can use self raising flour instead of baking powder. 

This will help the baked goods to rise so that you don’t actually need to use baking powder. You can also use things like cream of tartar and baker’s yeast.

Can I use baking soda instead of baking powder?

Yes - it is possible to use baking soda instead of baking powder. It is important to note, however, that baking soda is incredibly strong.

It’s roughly 3-4 times stronger than baking powder. This means that if you want to use baking soda instead of baking powder, you will need to use a lot less baking soda in the recipe.

So, if you have a recipe that asks for around 1 teaspoon of baking powder, you will need roughly ¼ of a teaspoon of baking soda.

Some recipes may call for both baking powder and baking soda, however, so you will need to keep this in mind.

Can I make cake without baking powder?

Baking soda is designed to be a raising agent. Basically, it is designed to respond to the acids in your cake batter and then it produces small gas bubbles that help the cake to rise.

Now, it’s important to note that cakes don’t necessarily need baking powder in order for them to rise.

This is especially true if the cake is dense. There are other ways that you can make the cake rise without baking powder too.

For instance, you can cream the butter and the sugar, as this will help the cake to raise. You can also use self raising flour to help the cake to rise.

It’s even possible to mechanically beat the air into the cake to make it rise before you put it in the oven. This is usually how angel cakes, sponge cakes and pound cakes are made.

Alternatively you can also make your cake by getting some baking soda and using a form of acid in the cake. For instance, you could use brown sugar, cream of tartar, lemon juice, buttermilk or sour cream.

Simply combine them with the dry ingredients in the cake, mix them all together and then put them in the oven.

Again, make sure that you don’t use too much baking soda, since baking soda is a lot more powerful than baking powder. You don’t want the cake to taste like soap when it’s done! 

In Summary

Baking powder is an important ingredient that leavens out many recipes and adds volume. You should always keep in mind the flavor profile of your baked goods when substituting any ingredient.

Some types of substitutes for baking powder are better than others. Vinegar may change the taste of your recipe while plain yogurt will keep it the same.

You may just have to adjust other ingredients in your recipe based on the substitute you choose.

Cassie Marshall
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