Yes, you can use baking powder instead of baking soda. In fact, baking powder is one of the best substitutes for baking soda. While baking powder is typically used in European recipes more often than here in the US and Canada, it’s still available to purchase.
Baking powder and baking soda are often referred to as the same ingredients, depending on the types of recipes you are looking at. However, they have their fair share of differences.
Baking soda is made using a chemical compound known as sodium bicarbonate. It needs to be “activated” which is why, it should be added to a liquid and an acid. It will then become an active ingredient, which will help your baked goods rise.
Baking powder works in a slightly different way. While baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, it also contains an acid. Therefore, the recipe does not need to contain an acid, like citric acid, for baking powder to be activated. It will only need to be added to a liquid.
How about substituting one for the other? You can do it, but here’s what you need to know.
While you may assume that both are the same, baking soda is a lot stronger in comparison to baking powder. Given this, if you’re using baking powder instead of baking soda, we recommend using a higher ratio of baking powder—a 3:1 ratio is ideal.
This will then be equivalent to the amount of baking soda needed.
Is Baking Powder the Same as Cream of Tartar?
When it comes to baking, there are many ingredients that can be used as a substitute for other ingredients, and baking powder is no exception. It’s similar to many other ingredients, and can often be used interchangeably.
Baking powder and cream of tartar are often used for similar purposes, which can lead people to wonder whether they are the same. While they do have similarities, baking powder and cream of tartar do have some fundamental differences.
Baking powder is used to help baked goods rise. It’s commonly used for recipes that involve cake making. Without baking powder or other rising agents, cakes are unable to rise and become fluffy and light as they are intended to.
Baking powder, as we’ve already touched on, is made with sodium bicarbonate as the main ingredient. Though it typically does contain other ingredients, such as cream of tartar, and often corn flour.
If you’ve run out of baking powder, it’s only natural to wonder what other ingredients you can use as a substitute. Given that baking powder is partly made using cream of tartar, you may be wondering if you can use this ingredient as a substitute on its own.
Cream of tartar is a compound that is used often in baking and cooking. It’s an acidic compound that’s added to baking powder as an active ingredient. As it’s an active ingredient, it encourages the mixture you are baking to rise.
Cream of tartar is created as a result of wine fermentation—it is a by-product of it.
As baking powder contains cream of tartar you can use it as an alternative. We’d recommend mixing around half a teaspoon of cream of tartar with a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda together. This combination mimics one teaspoon of baking powder well.
Is Cornstarch the Same as Baking Powder?
Ran out of baking powder? You’re probably wondering if you can substitute cornstarch for it.
While this is technically possible, avoid using cornstarch as the sole substitute as you are unlikely to achieve the results you want. Instead, it’s better to mix cornstarch with a number of different ingredients to best replicate baking powder.
While different manufacturers will use slightly different ingredients in their baking powder, many brands of baking powder contain cornstarch. Corn starch is a useful ingredient that helps to add thickness to the recipe.
Corn starch itself will not cause your recipe to rise and become light and fluffy. This is why it is not a suitable substitute alone.
To best replicate baking powder, you will need to mix the cornstarch with two other ingredients to allow it to activate and create the rise you need.
The two ingredients we’d recommend mixing with the cornstarch are baking soda and cream of tartar (as these are the two other primary ingredients that are typically found in baking powder).
Depending on how much baking powder your recipe requires you’ll need to adjust our measurements accordingly.
If your recipe requires one tablespoon of baking powder, we would suggest mixing 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar together.
What Can You Substitute Baking Powder With?
There are many substitutes you can use for baking powder. Though the best substitute options can vary slightly, depending on the type of recipe you are following.
In addition to this, sometimes you may need to mix a few of these ingredients together in order to best replicate baking powder.
Here are some popular baking powder substitutes:
- Baking soda
- Cream of tartar
- Club soda
- Sour milk
- Plain Yogurt
- Lemon juice
- Self-raising flour
As you can see, there are so many substitutes that you can use if you are out of baking powder. However, the majority of these ingredients will need to be mixed with other ingredients as they do not have the correct properties to work on their own.
As baking powder has active ingredients that cause the baked goods to rise, you will need to replicate this. Baking powder contains an acid that will begin to activate when this is mixed with a liquid. This is why the majority of the ingredients listed above are acidic. The acid in these ingredients will cause the baked goods to rise in the same way.
However, as baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, you will need to include an ingredient that uses this to replicate the rising. Taking all of this into consideration, the best option for a baking powder substitute is to mix baking soda with one of the ingredients above.
For example, you’ll want to mix baking soda with vinegar, baking soda with molasses, and baking soda with sour milk to best replicate baking powder.
What Happens If I use Baking Soda Instead of Cornstarch?
If you use baking soda instead of cornstarch, you’re unlikely to achieve the results you require. This is because cornstarch and baking soda have two different purposes.
Cornstarch is used in recipes to help give mixtures a thicker consistency. They allow the recipe to become denser and fuller. Baking soda is typically used to help baked goods rise. Instead of creating a dense and thick mixture, the baking soda is added to allow the mixture to become light and fluffy as it is baking.
Given this, if you use baking soda instead of cornstarch in a recipe, you won’t get the job done. In addition to being used for different purposes, baking soda is quite strong in its flavor. While this flavor is not really detected in baked goods when it is used as intended, it’s more noticeable when used incorrectly.
There are many far better alternatives that will help to thicken mixtures instead of baking soda, such as flour and water, wheat flour, tapioca, and xanthan gum.
These are far better to help thicken a recipe. Even baking powder is a better substitute as sometimes it can contain cornstarch, though this is not the best option overall.
Can I Use Vinegar Instead of Baking Soda?
Vinegar is not the best substitute for baking soda as it doesn’t contain sodium bicarbonate. While it does have the acidic ingredient needed to allow cakes to rise, you will need some form of sodium bicarbonate to get the results you need.
While vinegar mixed with baking soda is a fantastic substitute for baking powder, when it is not mixed with baking soda, it will do little in the way of helping to allow baked goods to rise.
The best alternative to baking soda will be baking powder, as it contains similar ingredients, and it will work well in helping your cakes to rise. It is the best alternative to baking soda.
If you do not have any baking soda here are a handful of other ingredients you can use instead—salt and potassium bicarbonate, baker’s ammonia, and self-raising flour.
What Happens If You Don’t Use Baking Powder?
Ideally, you will always want to use baking powder, or a suitable substitute if the recipe calls for it. However, we have all been there, when we don’t have any baking powder or substitutes at all—and we carry on with the recipe without it.
It’s completely possible to continue on with the recipe without using baking powder, however, you will be unlikely to achieve the full results you require. Baking powder allows your baked goods to rise while cooking. This causes them to be beautifully fluffy and light.
Without using baking powder, your baked goods will be a lot denser. While they will still be edible and safe to eat, it is unlikely that they will have the light consistency that was intended. Cakes are unlikely to rise well, and you will be left with baked goods that are a lot flatter and heavier than intended.
We’d always recommend using a substitute where possible if you have run out of baking powder.