Have you ever baked cookies or cake and they turned flat and dense? Or your pancakes didn’t rose enough and are harder than usual? Well maybe you forget to add baking powder, or you add it loo little. Or your baking powder is outdated.
It’s not important what the reason is. The only thing that matters is that the baking powder is an important rising agent. It is used to provide a fluffy and light texture in baked goods like pancakes, muffins, pastry, cakes, quick bread, and biscuits.
However, what if you don’t have baking powder at hand? Can you substitute baking powder? Yes, if you don’t have baking powder, you can use some other ingredients like baking soda mixed with lemon, vinegar, molasses, sour milk, buttermilk, plain yogurt, cream of tartar, or some of the other substitutes mentioned below.
Baking Powder Substitutes
Baking soda is one of the ingredients in baking powder. Therefore, it’s the best substitute you can use. But it has to be mixed with some acidic ingredients.
That way, the baked goods can rise and have a beautifully soft texture. The following substitutes perform just as well as baking powder and will save your recipe.
1. Baking soda and cream of tartar
Cream of tartar is the acidic ingredient in the baking powder, a byproduct of winemaking that is formed in the barrels. It is used for stabilizing eggs and whipped cream, preventing the sugar in icings, frostings, and syrups to crystalize, but it is also used as a cleaning product.
When it is used as a substitute for baking powder cream of tartar is mixed with baking soda. Use 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar as a substitute for 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
2. Baking soda and buttermilk
This fermented milk product is another good substitute for baking powder. It has a thick texture and sour flavor similar to plain yogurt.
Buttermilk that we are buying nowadays is made similar to yogurt when in pasteurized milk are added bacteria cultures and its left to ferment. Fermentation is transforming the milk sugars into lactic acid, which is important in baking when mixed with baking soda.
However, that was not the way buttermilk was made in the past. It was made of leftover liquids after butter churning. And it had a slightly sweet-sour flavor with a rich creamy texture.
When buttermilk is used as a substitute for baking powder it is mixed with baking soda. Use ½ cup of buttermilk and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda for 1 teaspoon of baking powder. If you are using this substitute you will need to reduce the other liquids in the recipe, or you can apply more flour.
3. Baking soda and plain yogurt
Plain yogurt is also produced from fermented milk. It is mostly made from cow’s milk. However, some other milk is used like goats, sheep, buffalos, and plant milk. Plain yogurt has a soft and creamy texture and sour flavor and is a good substitute for baking powder.
Mix ½ cup of plain yogurt with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda as a substitute for 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Don’t forget to reduce the number of liquids in the recipe, so you don’t get too runny a mixture.
4. Baking soda and sour milk
Sour milk can be also used as a substitute for baking powder. It is just fermented milk that contains lactic acid used to activate the baking soda. But before you use your sour milk make sure that the milk is not spoiled. If it’s spoiled it will have a different curdled texture, yellowish color, and unpleasant smell, so it’s better to throw it away.
You can make sour milk very easy if you have milk at your home. Take 1 cup of milk and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, or if you don’t have lemon juice use 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Stir it and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Use ½ cup of the soured milk with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder. You will need to decrease the liquids in your recipe for the amount of sour milk added (1/2 cup).
5. Baking soda and molasses
Molasses is a sweet and dark-colored byproduct of sugar making. It is used mainly for flavoring and sweetening foods. Molasses has an acid pH. Thus, it can be used as a substitute for baking powder.
To substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder use ¼ cup molasses and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Molasses has high sugar content. Therefore, not only you will need to decrease the sugar content but also the content of other liquids in your recipe.
6. Baking soda and lemon juice
Lemon juice is a good baking powder substitute if you want a baked good with a citrusy flavor. It has a high amount of acid when it is mixed with baking soda, so it acts just like baking powder. Just mix ¼ teaspoon baking soda with ½ teaspoon of lemon juice as a substitute for 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
7. Baking soda and orange juice
Orange juice is less acidic than lemon juice. But, if you have oranges and don’t mind the orange flavor in your food you can use it as a substitute for baking powder. Use ½ teaspoon of orange juice and add ¼ teaspoon baking soda as a substitute for 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
8. Baking soda and vinegar
Vinegar is made with the fermentation of the sugars from grapes, fruits, grains, alcoholic drinks, and acid. Meaning, there are many different types of vinegar to choose from.
It is used for baking, cooking, and cleaning purposes. Any type of vinegar can be used instead of baking powder. But white vinegar works best because of the neutral flavor. Also, it does not alter the color of baked goods.
Just add ½ teaspoon of vinegar to ¼ teaspoon baking soda as a substitute for 1 teaspoon of baking powder and save your recipe.
9. Whipped egg whites
Whipped egg whites are used in some recipes like cakes, pancakes, and meringues to give them light, airy texture, and volume.
If your recipe includes eggs but you don’t have baking powder, just whip the egg whites at low speed until they make a foam. Then increase the speed and whip them to make soft peaks. Add the other ingredients from your recipe and slowly mix them in the whipped egg whites.
When you whip egg whites, bubbles are formed. The bubbles act like baking powder and rise the batter. However, this substitute for baking powder is only for recipes that contain eggs.
10. Self-rising flour
Self-rising flour contains baking powder, all-purpose flour, and salt. Thus, when you don’t have baking powder or baking soda to mix it, opt for some of the other substitutes mentioned throughout this article.
Or simply replace regular flour with self-rising flour, and use the remaining ingredients except for the salt, baking powder, or baking soda.
11. Club soda
Club soda contains a low amount of baking soda or low sodium bicarbonate. Therefore, you can use it in recipes that don’t need too much rising, like pancakes.
If you don’t have another option, you can use it as a substitute for baking powder. However, be prepare for flatter baked goods. For best results when you are using club soda mix it quickly with the other ingredients.
Otherwise, the bubbles made from carbon dioxide will vanish fast. Use the same amount of club soda instead of the other liquids in your recipe. If you are using club soda as a substitute, don’t use the remaining liquids from your recipe.
Yeast is a microorganism made from one cell. It is turning the sugars and starch into carbon dioxide which is responsible for the rising of baked goods and ethanol-alcohol (don’t worry the alcohol is evaporating when heated).
Yeast is the oldest rising agent used in making bread and other baked goods. Two types of yeast are used in baking, fresh yeast, and dry yeast.
Dry yeast is activated in warm water and sugar. When it’s risen, it is added to the mixture. Yeast is mostly used in making bread and rolls. However, if you don’t have other options you can use them in biscuits, pound cakes, pastries, or other baked goods. Use 1 teaspoon of yeast for 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
Sourdough starter is made from wheat flour and water. The dough is using the natural yeast from the environment. When it is fermented it can be used in the making of bread, muffins, and cakes.
It takes five days to make a sourdough starter. And it has to be maintained after that or feed with water and flour. You can use it as a substitute for baking powder. However, it has to be prepared 5 days before use.
So if you can make it you will always have a fresh start for your baked goods. However, they need double-time to raise as when they are made with yeast or baking powder. Use 1 cup of sourdough starter for 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
14. Air and steam
Air and steam are physical rising agents. When sugar and butter (or any solid fat) are beaten, the air is getting in the mix and helps to raise it when it is baking. The same happens when eggs or cream are beaten.
The ingredients in the mixture contain water which is evaporating in the oven making steam and increasing the volume of the baked goods. For example puff and choux pastry.
15. Homemade substitute for baking powder
Homemade baking powder can be made with just 3 ingredients. Gather 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of corn starch if you are planning to store the baking powder. Simply mix them and store them in a jar.
Extra Information About Baking Powder
The key ingredients in baking powder include acid salt (cream of tartar), alkaline powder (baking soda), and neutral starch. Therefore, baking powder contains baking soda.
The combination of acid salt and alkaline powder is responsible for the rising action in the baking powder. While the starch is added to absorb the moisture from the powder and prevent the reaction between the alkaline powder and acid salt while the powder is stored.
The most used starch in the production of baking powder is corn and potato starch. The alkaline powder and acid salt are reacting when the water or some other liquid is added to the mixture. Carbon dioxide gas is released and it produces bubbles trapped inside of the batter.
Well, those bubbles are expanding when the batter is heated, leaving air pockets that affect the texture of the baked good. Smaller air pockets softer and smoother texture, bigger air pockets rougher texture.
There are two types of baking powder that can be found on the market. Single-acting and double-acting baking powder.
Single-acting baking powder has one acid. It reacts only once when the liquid is added to the mixture. Double-acting baking powder, on the other hand, has two types of acids.
One acid reacts when the liquid is added. And the second acid reacts when the mixture is exposed to heat.
So, you will have to act fast and put the mixture to bake as soon as possible when you are using single-acting baking powder.
Double-acting baking powder is mostly used in baking and can be found in stores. Single-acting baking powder is more suitable for commercial use.
What is a substitute for 1 tablespoon of baking powder?
1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with 2 teaspoons cream of tartar is a substitute for 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
Can you use baking soda instead of baking powder?
You can use baking soda instead of baking powder. However, you will have to add some acid ingredients like cream of tartar or lemon juice.
What happens if you don’t use baking powder?
If you don’t use baking powder your baked goods will not rise and they will be flat and dense.
Baking powder is an important ingredient when you are making baked goods. However, if you don’t have it at home or cannot find it, you can replace it with baking soda or some of the alternatives mentioned above.
If the batter has acidic ingredients it’s advisable to use baking soda because if you add baking powder the batter will be too acidic. However, if there are no acidic ingredients in the batter you can use baking soda with some acidic ingredients or just baking powder.
Try to bake with these substitutes for baking powder and let us know how they turn out for you. Let’s chat about baking and exchange experiences in the comments.