If you're looking for a good baking soda substitute for your recipes, this guide will explain various options to help your baked goods rise and save you a trip to the grocery store. There are many baking soda alternatives that can save the day, and you likely have some of them on hand already.
- What is baking soda?
- Baking soda vs. Baking powder
- The function of baking soda in baking
- Considerations when replacing baking soda in baking
- What can I use instead of baking soda?
- 1. Baking Powder
- 2. Self Rising Flour
- 3. Potassium Bicarbonate
- 4. Baker's Ammonia
- 5. Whipped Egg Whites
- 6. Aquafaba
- 7. Whipped Cream
- 8. Club Soda
- 9. Leave it Out
- Baking soda substitute FAQs
- Conclusions on what is the best baking soda substitute
- More baking guides
- The BEST Baking soda Substitute
What is baking soda?
Baking soda, or Sodium bicarbonate, is a powerful chemical leavening agent. People use baking soda for a number of things, from baking to cleaning and odor absorption. In addition, it is used in a variety of recipes, from pumpkin spice donuts to lemon poppyseed cupcakes to make baked goods rise.
Baking soda is alkaline, which means it is not acidic. Instead, it works by interacting with acidic ingredients. For example, it makes batters light and fluffy by releasing carbon dioxide bubbles when you place baking soda with acidic ingredients such as lemon juice, yogurt, or vinegar.
Usually, baking soda is most potent in the first six months after opening. However, if your baking soda is working on a heavy-duty project like absorbing the odors in your fridge, you'll want to switch it out about every 30 days.
Baking soda vs. Baking powder
Baking soda and baking powder are both chemical leaveners famous for their use in baked goods. Baking powder, also known as sodium carbonate, can almost always replace baking soda in recipes without changing the texture or taste of the recipe. But what really makes them different?
Baking powder itself contains both the alkaline and acidic elements needed to generate a reaction (rise). Simply put, baking powder is a combination of non-acidic baking soda and a dry acid, eg. cream of tartar. The liquid in the batter activates this reaction, whereas baking soda activates fully when paired with an external acidic element.
However, if you included baking soda in a recipe with little to no acid, it would cause a bitter or metallic taste and only give the recipe a slight rise. And, most importantly, baking soda is about three times as potent as baking powder, meaning you need much less to get the same reaction.
You can view baking soda and baking powder as excellent choices for most baked goods. Using baking powder instead of baking soda can give you similar results. Sometimes they are even used together for even more leavening action, eg. in this pumpkin banana muffins.
The function of baking soda in baking
This fast-acting leavening agent is great for quick bread like pumpkin bread. The power of the baking soda is visible almost immediately in the batter, and you usually only need a little (one teaspoon baking soda or less) to make the magic happen. Buttermilk, chocolate, and even brown sugar can cause acidity in a batter, but it's baking soda's job to neutralize the acid.
Baking soda can also accelerate the Maillard reaction, a reaction between amino acids and sugars, which in baking gives biscuits and quick breads their coloring.
Considerations when replacing baking soda in baking
Before you substitute baking soda in your recipe, it's essential to think about which baking soda replacement makes the most sense given important factors like the amount of liquid in the batter, how big of a rise you're looking to achieve, and how the recipe you plan to follow is written.
Recipes that already call for baking powder in addition to baking soda make subbing baking powder for baking soda easier. On the other hand, recipes that rely heavily on baking soda will be a bit trickier to make substitutions for.
It's important to read the recipe in its entirety and plan what can be used as a substitute for bicarbonate of soda. This is particularly important in recipes where you'll be using a liquid replacement like club soda because you'll need to omit a portion of the liquid the recipe calls for in favor of the club soda.
What can I use instead of baking soda?
You might be wondering what is a good alternative of baking soda. Whether you're looking to avoid the bitter taste that baking soda can sometimes leave behind, or you simply don't have any baking soda left in your pantry, finding an acceptable replacement for baking soda might just save you a trip to the grocery store.
There are several excellent substitutes for baking soda, but you can't just jump into one and expect it to work exactly the same. When deciding which to use, it's important to consider the specifics of the recipe.
Not every alternative for baking soda on this list is a suitable replacement for every type of recipe, so it's important to carefully consider the amount of baking soda that will need to be replaced and how that may affect your baking. Below you'll learn about all the great options and what can be used as a substitute for baking soda.
1. Baking Powder
Baking powder is one of the best baking soda substitutes for cookies and other sweet baked goods. You can almost always replace baking soda with baking powder. It's easy to find and you likely already have it in your pantry. It works well in just about any recipe that calls for baking soda and won't change the taste or texture.
How to use it:
When using baking powder as a substitute for baking soda, you must use a 3:1 ratio. So you would need three teaspoons of baking powder to substitute for 1 teaspoon of baking soda to get the same effect. You can substitute baking powder for baking soda with great results in moist recipes like cakes and muffins. Baking powder is the best baking soda substitute for banana bread.
2. Self Rising Flour
Self rising flour is the perfect baking soda substitute for cake and takes the guesswork out of measuring your leavener. If you have no baking soda or baking powder, self-rising flour is your next best option. This is an excellent baking soda substitute for cookies.
Self rising flour contains baking powder, all-purpose flour, and salt. When considering this swap, it's helpful to know that each cup of self rising flour (120g) contains 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
How to use it:
You can often use it in any recipe that calls for a leavening agent without worrying about having too much or too little leavener. Self rising flour works as a baking soda and baking powder alternative by replacing the all purpose flour in recipes at a 1:1 ratio.
3. Potassium Bicarbonate
Potassium Bicarbonate is another baking soda alternative. This substitute is the most similar in chemical composition to baking soda. It doesn't have sodium, so you'll need to salt potassium bicarbonate before you use it to give it the same flavor as baking soda.
Although it's generally available in supplement form and used to support heart health, potassium bicarbonate is an effective leavening agent.
How to use it:
Potassium bicarbonate used to replace baking soda can be done at a 1:1 ratio. It's one of the best substitutes for baking soda, with the only real difference being the amount of sodium.
Just remember, you'll want to add salt to it if you're not specifically following a low-sodium diet. Generally, you can add one teaspoon of salt to every 2-3 teaspoons of potassium bicarbonate.
4. Baker's Ammonia
Baker's ammonia, also known as ammonium bicarbonate, was the go-to leavening agent used before the widespread use of baking soda and baking powder began. Its strong scent makes it a better option for low-moisture, crispy baked goods because the ammonia smell tends to linger in moist treats.
How to use it:
This isn't a good option for cakes and quick breads but it works well as a sub for baking soda in crispy cookies and crackers. You can use it with a 1:1 ratio as an alternative to baking soda.
5. Whipped Egg Whites
You might be surprised that whipped egg whites can be used as a substitute for baking soda. Whipping 2-3 egg whites until stiff peaks form can give your baked goods rise and get that fluffy texture you're trying to achieve. This works best in recipes that mix baking soda and powder rather than only baking soda.
How to use it:
If the recipe calls for eggs, simply separate the whites from the yolks and whip the whites to stiff peaks before adding them to your batter. Always fold the whipped egg whites in last to avoid breaking any air bubbles, you'll want those in your batter. Whipped egg whites are a good baking soda substitute for pancakes and other airy cakes.
If you're making a vegan recipe and need a baking soda substitute, consider using aquafaba, the water from a can of chickpeas. This will give your baked goods a bit of rise and also provide them with additional structure, similar to how whipped egg whites would work in your batter.
How to use it:
First, whip ¼ cup of aquafaba until it turns white and stiff peaks form. This usually takes around 5 minutes. Then, add ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar and whip until combined. Fold the mixture gently into your batter, being careful not to break any air bubbles.
7. Whipped Cream
Much like whipped egg whites, whipped cream can also add a nice rise to foods like pancakes or waffles. However, this baking soda substitute will add fat to your recipe, so keep that in mind.
How to use it:
For this substitute, you will swap out a portion of a liquid in your recipe and replace the amount at a 1:1 ratio with heavy cream. Then, using a whisk or a hand mixer, beat the whipped cream for 3-4 minutes until it's fluffy and forms stiff peaks. You can then carefully fold the whipped cream into your batter and bake away.
Just be careful not to overmix the whipped cream or it will turn to butter!
8. Club Soda
Club soda contains a small amount of sodium bicarbonate, which makes it a good baking soda substitute for some recipes. This isn't a good option for cookies, recipes sensitive to excess moisture, or those that typically have a significant rise. Club soda is also a great baking soda substitute for cleaning.
How to use it:
Club soda works best for recipes that use a lot of liquid and already have an acidic component. To swap the baking soda for club soda, start by adding ¼ cup of club soda as a replacement.
Remember to subtract the amount of liquid from the recipe that you're adding to it. For example, if you add ¼ cup of club soda to your batter, omit ¼ cup of another liquid in the recipe.
9. Leave it Out
Depending on your baked good, your best option may be to leave it out. If it’s the only leavening agent in your recipe, you might want to find an alternative. In recipes that use baking soda as a secondary leaving agent, you can simply leave it out. However, I do not recommend leaving it out or not replacing it with something else for fluffy bread like banana bread.
How to use it:
Omit the amount of baking soda required in the recipes from your batter. Some recipes like cookies may still get a small rise from other ingredients or become crunchy.
Baking soda substitute FAQs
There are lots of excellent options when looking to substitute baking soda. Baking powder, whipped egg whites, self raising flour, and baker's ammonia are all excellent options.
Absolutely! Baking powder is the best substitute for baking soda in banana bread and you will have to use 3x the amount of the baking soda. Check my moist and fluffy banana bread without baking soda recipe!
Baking powder and baking soda can perform many of the same functions but make sure to use 3x more baking powder than the baking soda you are substituting. You might be wondering can baking powder substitute for baking soda too? Yes! You can substitute baking powder with baking soda by using a third of the amount.
You can tell if baking soda is still active by doing a quick spoon test. Scoop a little baking soda onto a spoon and place a drop of something acidic, like vinegar or lemon juice, onto the spoon. If it fizzes quickly, then it's still active.
Baking soda can be active but lose its freshness. It may still fizz during the spoon test but may have a slow or weakened reaction. If your baking soda is hard or starting to clump, that usually means moisture is in the box. It's still safe to consume but may not give your baked goods the same rise.
The best way to store baking soda is in an airtight container at room temperature. Baking soda absorbs odors, so leaving it in the cardboard box in the cabinet will cause it to absorb smells and potentially collect moisture if it's not entirely sealed.
You may notice that some recipes direct you to add both baking soda and baking powder. Sometimes you need the baking soda to neutralize the acid in the recipe and the baking powder to give the batter its rise.
Absolutely! You can freeze baking soda in an airtight container in the freezer. Freezing your baking soda is a great option because it's less likely to absorb odors or come into contact with excessive moisture that causes clumping. Just be sure to change it out every three months so that when it comes time to use it, it's fresh and ready for baking.
It's not usually a good idea to use baking soda as a substitute for yeast. Recipes that call for yeast often have a different type of dough than those that use baking soda. In addition, the types of ingredients in yeasted recipes are less likely to have an acid that the baking soda can directly interact with for activation.
Baking soda cannot substitute cornstarch. Baking soda is a leavening agent whereas cornstarch is a thickener. These two ingredients may look similar, but they have very different purposes in cooking and cannot be used interchangeably.
Conclusions on what is the best baking soda substitute
Baking soda is an important ingredient that gives your baked goods rise. It also functions to deliver a distinct and desired flavor, texture, and color. If a recipe calls for baking soda, you should not overlook the addition. Without it, your bakery-style muffins may fall flat, and your chewy cookies may become hard and brittle.
However, you may run into situations where baking soda is simply unavailable, whether you're all out of it or the open box in your pantry has lost its effectiveness.
The good news is that there are several baking soda substitutes that will give you similar results to actual baking soda. Even better, you will likely have many of these substitutes on hand already—no need to search for another recipe.
When deciding what to use instead of baking soda, remember that baking powder is the best baking soda substitute, followed by self rising flour. These options, in addition to potassium bicarbonate, are the most similar to baking soda and will provide the best results.
More baking guides
The BEST Baking soda Substitute
Best subsitute for baking soda in baking
- 3 teaspoons (1 cups) Baking powder to replace 1 teaspoon baking soda
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- replace 1 teaspoon baking soda with 3 teaspoons baking powder