5 Baking soda substitutes to save the day

Have you ever been in the middle of making your favorite chocolate cake only to find an empty box of baking soda? In moments like these, a grocery run seems like a far-fetched dream. Relax, you don’t need to give up on your cake just yet, you have just the perfect baking soda substitutes right in your kitchen. But before we dive into how to replace baking soda, first let us understand what is baking soda.

What is baking soda?

5 Baking soda substitutes to save the day

Baking soda also known as sodium bicarbonate is a popular baking ingredient and a chemical leavening agent. That means when you combine baking soda with any acidic ingredient and a liquid, it begins to release carbon dioxide. This is why it dreamy fluffy texture to cakes, bread, muffins, and a light texture to cookies. In other words, with the help of its leavening properties, baking soda works to react with acids like yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar, or lemon juice which produces carbon dioxide which causes the dough to rise.

How to use baking soda?

Baking soda has always been known for its strong leavening properties. However, to ensure its maximum effectiveness, it is imperative to always use it in precise amounts in different recipes. That is because, while lack of baking soda might lead to an insufficient rise, excess baking soda might leave behind a soapy and metallic taste in your baked goods. In fact, too much baking soda might make your cookies look a little too brown. While adding baking soda to your recipes, it is always smart to level off the content in the spoon with the flat end of a knife. Also, make sure you mix the wet ingredients with the baking soda at the very end because as soon as it interacts with water and acid it starts working.

Baking soda: Nutritional information

The United States Department of Agriculture states that a single teaspoon of baking soda that’s around 4.6 grams has: 

  • Calories: 0 gram
  • Protein: 0 gram
  • Fat: 0 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 0 gram
  • Fiber: 0 gram
  • Sugar: 0 gram
  • Sodium: 1260 milligram

If you have been baking for a while you already know baking soda is responsible for the distinctive texture of baked goods. In fact, it is baking soda that causes the batter to rise and expand, which results in a lifted and tender texture characteristic of cakes, quick bread, cookies, and even pancakes. But, what do you do, when you’re in the middle of a recipe and there is no baking soda? Could you simply leave it out?

Why do you need a baking soda substitute?

5 Baking soda substitutes to save the day

When you find yourself without baking soda, in the middle of the recipe, the first instinct is simply to leave it out. Of course, you could simply skip a step and leave baking soda out of your recipe. But, you must keep in mind your cakes won’t be fluffy and your cookies will be flat. They might taste okay, but the texture would definitely break your heart. If you want to save yourself from flat cookies and lumpy cakes, you need to find yourself a baking soda alternative. They are right in your kitchen, all you need to do is understand the proportions. 

Baking Soda Substitutes: 5 ingredients that work as good as baking soda 

When you’re halfway through a pancake or cookie recipe without baking soda, what should you do? Well, first of all, do not panic. Second, go through this little list of the best baking soda alternatives to find a quick baking soda substitute right away. Here is a list of common ingredients that can give your cakes and cookies the perfect rise even without baking soda. 

1. Baking powder

In the absence of baking soda, baking powder has always been a savior. In fact, it is one of the most frequently used alternatives to baking soda. The only difference between baking soda and baking powder is that, unlike baking soda, baking powder already possesses an acid. That means, if you are planning to substitute baking soda with baking powder in your recipe, you will need to add twice or thrice the quantity of baking soda to create that same rise. Therefore, it is safe to say that you will need 3 teaspoons of baking powder for every teaspoon of baking soda. Also, since baking soda already contains acid, you’ll also need to reduce the acidic ingredients to retain the intended flavor of the recipe. Another thing about baking powder is that it is saltier than baking soda, so it is advised to reduce the salt by half.

When adding baking powder instead of baking soda make sure you:

  • Add 2-3 teaspoons of baking powder, for every teaspoon of baking soda.
  • Consider reducing the amount of the acidic ingredient. ( yogurt or lemon juice)
  • Reduce the quantity of salt by half.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

While baking soda and baking powder might sound alike, they are different. Baking soda also known as sodium bicarbonate works as a quick-acting leavening substance for baking purposes. Baking soda is alkaline or basic in nature. When mixed with water or any liquid for that matter along with any acidic ingredient like lemon juice, yogurt, sour cream, or even buttermilk baking soda releases carbon dioxide bubbles. These carbon dioxide bubbles help in delivering the right rise and fluffiness to cakes, quick bread, or muffins and the perfect texture to cookies.

Baking powder on the other hand is a mixture of baking soda along with acid in powdered form. That means to start the bubbling process you simply need to add water and no acid. In other words, you do not need to add any acidic ingredients for the baking powder to start working. It has the power to leaven dough as soon as you add water. When any recipe requires you to add both baking powder and baking soda. Baking soda works to balance out any acidic ingredient that’s in the recipe and the baking powder works to give it all the lift. Plus, Baking soda also helps your baked goods brown better.

When using baking powder instead of baking soda, you need to make sure, that for every half teaspoon of baking soda, you need to reduce at least 1 cup of buttermilk or yogurt or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. That is because while baking soda needs an acidic substance along with water to work, the baking powder needs just water. It is important to understand baking soda has thrice the power of baking powder. That means 1/3 teaspoon of baking soda is equal to 1 teaspoon of baking powder. 

2. Self-rising flour

5 Baking soda substitutes to save the day

Another substitute for baking soda is self-rising flour, provided you’re making a recipe that involves flour. When you substitute self-rising flour for baking soda, you need to keep in mind every cup of self-rising flour has around 1 and a half (1.5) teaspoons of baking powder. That means 3 cups of self-rising flour has around 1 and a half (1.5) teaspoons of baking soda. Again, self-rising flour also already contains salt, so, you’ll have to adjust your recipe accordingly. If you’re planning to substitute self-rising flour instead of baking soda, make sure you replace the flour in your recipe with self and adjust the salt and acid accordingly. For example, if you’re using buttermilk try using regular milk to reduce the acid. 

When adding self-rising flour instead of baking soda remember:

  • Every 3 cups of self-rising flour have 1.5 teaspoons of baking soda.
  • Reducing the quantity of the acidic ingredient (yogurt or lemon juice.) 
  • Eliminating or reducing salt accordingly.

3. Whipped egg whites

5 Baking soda substitutes to save the day

Whipped egg whites are another classic substitute for baking soda. When in the middle of a recipe and you find you have no baking soda, you can definitely count on whipped egg whites to deliver just a similar rise and structure. For every teaspoon of baking powder, you must add the whites of two eggs. It is important to remember, that while beaten egg whites are excellent to give your baked goods a rise, they are runny. Yes, you’ll have to be careful about eliminating your liquid somewhere to balance the consistency. For example, if you need around half a cup of egg whites, you must omit half a cup of milk as well.

When adding whipped egg whites instead of baking soda remember:

  • You must add the whites of two eggs, for every teaspoon of baking powder.
  • Reducing the amount of liquid to balance the consistency. 
  • Separating the yolk and using only the beaten egg whites. 

4. Baker’s ammonia

Also, known as ammonium carbonate, baker’s ammonia was once a major leavening agent. That’s right before baking soda was even invented, bakers made use of this ingredient right here to give their cakes the perfect rise. Despite having a strong smell, baker’s ammonia has been a delight when it comes to delivering crisp texture to your cookies. Baker’s ammonia can be easily used in a 1:1 ratio to replace baking soda. However, it might require a little trial and error as it is not the ideal substitute for all baking recipes. 

When adding baking ammonia instead of baking soda remember:

  • Use it in a 1:1 ratio to replace baking soda.
  • The smell will not affect the taste.
  • May not work for all recipes identically. 

5. Potassium bicarbonate

Another excellent substitute for baking soda is potassium bicarbonate along with a sign. You can substitute it with baking soda in a 1:1 ratio. It has the exact same properties as baking soda, all you need to do is add salt in your recipe accordingly since potassium bicarbonate does not contain any sodium. You’ll find the right salt content to add after a few recipes however, you can start with half or one-fourth teaspoon for every teaspoon of potassium bicarbonate. 

When adding baking ammonia instead of baking soda remember:

  • Use it in a 1:1 ratio to replace baking soda.
  • Add ½ or ¼ teaspoon of salt for every teaspoon of baking soda. 

5 Baking soda substitutes to save the day

While all the above-mentioned substitutes of baking soda can offer a similar leavening effect as baking soda, it is important to understand it may take a while to understand the exact quantities of substitutions. In fact, if you are not used to making use of substitutes during baking, it might take a little trial and error. To avoid any waste, make sure you try and experiment with a small amount so that you can scrap a batch if the substitute quantities aren’t right the first time around.


20 Baking tips to perfect your recipes

5 Baking soda substitutes to save the day

Although adding the right amount of baking soda and baking soda alternatives might work to deliver just the desired rise. However, these additional baking tips can help you perfect your dishes without trying too hard. 

1. Get yourself a silicone baking mat to bake even cookies.

2. Take out your cookies just when just the edges have hardened to avoid extra hard cookies.

3. Invest in a cake release spray.

4. Add fruits and chocolate chips to the flour for an even distribution of flavor.

5. Make use of an ice cream scoop to portion your cakes and muffins to perfect your proportions.

6. Use a measuring cup to measure your flour and don’t forget to level it with a knife.

7. Measure your ingredients in grams or pounds instead of cups for more exactness.

8. Don’t forget to add salt, salt is the missing ingredient in countless dessert recipes. 

9. When a recipe requires chilled butter, grate it and freeze it at least an hour prior to using it.

10. Do not begin icing your cakes before they cool down. Wait for at least 30 minutes to avoid any damage. 

11. Always check the expiration date of your products, especially the soda if you want to avoid flat cakes.

12. Do not over-mix things, except butter and sugar, those need to be thoroughly blended.

13. While storing, store your cookies with a slice of bread in an airtight container. It will keep them fresh. 

5 Baking soda substitutes to save the day

14. Make sure you gently bang your cake pans on the kitchen counter to avoid any air in the batter.

15. Consider adding some instant coffee to your chocolate brownies, it will not make your brownies bitter it only makes chocolate more chocolaty.

16. Use a toothpick to check if your cakes are done. 

17. Make sure you chill your cookie dough.

18. Temperature is everything, make sure you abide by the temperature requirement of the recipe. 

19. Consider adding a mere drop of liquified coconut oil when melting chocolate. 

20. Before you make whipped cream put your beaters and bowl in the fridge to whip faster.

Also Read: 25 best substitutes for Eggs

5 Baking essentials every amateur baker must have in their kitchen

Baking Soda VS Baking Powder: Know the difference to stop the confusion

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