You Can Substitute for Baking Powder and Baking Soda

Substituting might affect the taste, but that might not be a problem

Baking Soda and Baking Power Substitutes
Baking Soda and Baking Power Substitutes. Illustration by Hugo Lin. ThoughtCo. 

Baking powder and baking soda both are leavening agents, which means they help baked goods to rise. They aren't the same chemical, but you can substitute one for another in recipes. Here's how to work the substitutions and what to expect:

Substitute for Baking Soda: Using Baking Powder Instead of Baking Soda

  • You need to use 2 to 3 times more baking powder than baking soda. The extra ingredients in baking powder will affect the taste of whatever you are making, but this isn't necessarily bad.
  • Ideally, triple the amount of baking powder to equal the amount of baking soda. So, if the recipe calls for 1 tsp of baking soda, you would use 3 tsp of baking powder.
  • Another option is to compromise and use twice the amount of baking powder as baking soda (add 2 tsp of baking powder if the recipe calls for 1 tsp of baking soda). If you choose this option, you might wish to omit or reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. Salt adds flavor but it also affects rising in some recipes.

Substitute for Baking Powder: How to Make It Yourself

  • You need baking soda and cream of tartar to make homemade baking powder.
  • Mix 2 parts cream of tartar with 1 part baking soda. For example, mix 2 tsp of cream of tartar with 1 tsp of baking soda.
  • Use the amount of homemade baking powder called for by the recipe. No matter how much homemade baking powder you made, if the recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp, add exactly 1 1/2 tsp of your mixture. If you have leftover homemade baking powder, you can store it in a labeled, zipper-type plastic bag to use later.

Cream of tartar is used to increase the acidity of a mixture. So you can't always use baking soda in recipes that call for baking powder. You can switch baking powder for baking soda, but expect the flavor to change a little.

You might wish to make and use homemade baking powder even if you can purchase commercial baking powder. This gives you complete control over the ingredients. Commercial baking powder contains baking soda and, usually, 5 to 12 percent monocalcium phosphate and 21 to 26 percent sodium aluminum sulfate. People wishing to limit aluminum exposure might do better with the homemade version.

Do Baking Soda and Baking Powder Go 'Bad'?

If you're having trouble with either baking powder or baking soda, they might be past their recommended shelf life. Baking powder and baking soda don't exactly go "bad," but they do undergo chemical reactions sitting on the shelf for months or years that cause them to lose their effectiveness as leavening agents. The higher the humidity, the faster the ingredients lose their potency. Fortunately, it's very easy to test baking powder and baking soda for freshness.

Baking powder and baking soda aren't the only ingredients you might need to substitute in a recipe. There are also simple substitutions for ingredients such as cream of tartar, buttermilk, milk, and different types of flour.