Finding an ideal baking powder substitute requires a better understanding of baking powder. This will enable you to pinpoint the most suitable substitutes and alternatives for your recipes. So let’s start!
What is Baking Powder?
Anyone who has experimented with baking will appreciate the benefits of baking powder. It’s the ingredient that encourages your gorgeous cupcakes to rise. Or it’s what makes your cookies nice and fluffy.
Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder is baking soda and an acidifying agent. The most common acidifying agent is cream of tartar.
The combination of baking soda, acid, and heat produces carbon dioxide. These bubbles are what make your food rise.
Different Types of Baking Powder
Baking powder can be single-acting or double-acting. It can also be slow-acting or fast-acting. Here are the major differences between these types of baking powder:
- A single-acting rising agent means it only has either fast-acting characteristics or slow-acting properties;
- Meanwhile, a double-acting agent means it can be used for its fast and slow-acting properties;
- Fast-acting acids in a wet mixture will react at room temperature; and
- On the other hand, slow-acting needs to be heated for a reaction.
There are many alternative ways to get your baked food to rise. Some of them use ingredients that are already in your kitchen. Others might be more difficult to find but are well worth the effort. If you don’t have baking powder at hand or you would like to try alternatives, then here are 12 options you can use as baking powder substitutes:
Today’s Top 12 Baking Powder Substitutes
1. Self-Raising Flour (or Self-Rising Flour)
All-purpose flour is an important ingredient in many recipes. It is made from hard milled wheat and soft wheat. It’s ideal for coating meat or making your sauce thicker. It contains around 10–12% protein.
Self-raising flour and all-purpose flour have no difference in taste. Using one or the other will not affect the flavor.
Self-raising flour is a mixture of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. It contains approximately 8.5% protein. It is the protein that develops gluten. This is the key to many baked foods.
Self-raising flour is perfect for cakes, muffins, and pancakes. It is also commonly used for the breading in fried chicken. Sometimes a recipe says plain flour (or all-purpose flour). Don’t worry about using self-raising flour instead. For making sauces, self-raising flour will also make your sauces lighter.
It might be confusing to look at the flour options in a supermarket. There is bread flour, pastry flour, white whole-wheat flour, oat flour, and lots more. It’s only self-raising flour that has added baking powder. Therefore, it’s only self-raising flour that can give you airy cakes and cookies.
You can substitute all-purpose flour for self-raising flour. But you can’t substitute self-raising flour for all-purpose because you will be missing its baking powder component. Without this, your food won’t be light and airy. If your recipe requires all-purpose flour, then you can substitute baking powder and salt with the following ratio:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 ½tsp baking powder + ½tsp salt = 1 cup self-raising flour
Meanwhile, if you want to make a gluten-free cake and you don’t have any baking powder, then you can combine:
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free flour bread + 1tsp baking powder + 1tsp white vinegar
Self-raising flour is the easiest alternative to baking powder. It’s the type of ingredient that should be in everybody’s kitchen. It’s easy to find in any supermarket. It’s also cheap and has a long shelf life.
Buttermilk is milk that has been left to ferment. Lactic acid is produced, and this causes a reduction in the PH levels of the milk. On the other hand, the protein in the milk causes it to curdle.
So buttermilk used to be made from the liquid leftover from churning butter. But buttermilk is now cultivated to follow safety standards.
You can make your buttermilk by adding 1tsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and waiting for 10 minutes. This is called Acidified buttermilk. You will notice here that again, acid is needed. You can use any type of milk, but whole milk is better for baking.
Homemade buttermilk is better for baking because it is less acidic and tastes better than shop-bought. Here, you can only use baking soda (not baking powder). Baking powder will upset the balance between acid and alkali in normal milk. However, buttermilk and baking soda can replace normal milk in many recipes.
To replace baking powder, you will need to use:
- A ½ cup of buttermilk + 1tsp of baking soda
The chemical reaction will start immediately because of the acid and baking soda. When you use buttermilk as a rising agent, you might need to adjust the amount of other liquids in a recipe. A recipe that only calls for baking powder will not have the same consistency if you add buttermilk. Alternatively, you can use powdered buttermilk. You can use:
- 1 cup of water + 4tbs powdered buttermilk + 1tsp baking soda (wet ingredients); or
- 4tsp powdered buttermilk + 1tsp baking soda (dry ingredients)
Buttermilk with baking soda makes delicious pancakes, cakes, and scones, to name a few. It is a great ingredient for soda bread. The thickness of the buttermilk makes for a rich batter. The acidity gives the food a nice tangy taste.
Buttermilk is a healthy alternative to whole milk. It has 99 calories and 2.2 grams of fat per cup. Meanwhile, whole milk has 157 calories and 8.9 grams of fat. Buttermilk also has vitamins, calcium, and potassium.
You can replace buttermilk with plain yogurt. Adding baking soda to yogurt acts as a raising agent. Also if you have leftover buttermilk, then you can safely freeze it to use for your next recipe.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C (or Ascorbic Acid) is the main nutrient in citrus fruits. It’s a powder that is often used as a raising agent in bread. It can raise bread 20% more than without it.
Vitamin C boosts the action of the yeast, which thrives in slightly acidic environments. This also helps to make the dough stronger as it traps more air bubbles.
You don’t need baking powder or baking soda when you have vitamin C. Another benefit of using this baking powder substitute is that it speeds up yeast development, making the bread rise quicker.
And if you kneaded your bread, then there’ll be plenty of air in it. The air (or oxygen) reacts with ascorbic acid, making the bread even lighter.
You don’t need to change any ingredient in your bread recipe. Just add one leveled teaspoon into your ingredients, and the vitamin C will work its magic.
The most common use of this baking powder substitute is for bread-making. Whole grain flours have less gluten than white flours. Less gluten means less strength in the bread, so it’s quite difficult to capture air.
Vitamin C will help elevate wholemeal bread. It can be used in pastry, particularly the fluffier types. Some bakers use it in the batter. If you want to use vitamin C as a replacement for baking powder in cake recipes, then use:
- 2tsp baking soda + ½tsp Vitamin C powder = two ½tsp of baking powder
Substituting baking powder with Vitamin C is ideal for people who are sensitive to corn (the main ingredient in baking powder). It can reduce sensitivity to some foods. One advantage is that Vitamin C will help your immune system far more than baking powder. But be careful! Vitamin C does come with a warning. ¼ of a teaspoon of the powder contains 1000mg of Vitamin C. The recommended daily amount is 50-60mg per day.
There are so many different types of eggs. For baking, it is best to use large chicken eggs. If your recipe requires eggs and baking powder, then you can skip the baking powder.
To do this, you will have to master some serious whipping techniques. First, it’s good to understand the difference between the yolk and the egg.
The yolk is the part that contains the nutrients and fats. If you think about making a cake, then the yolk acts as a binder for the other ingredients. It’s also the part of the egg that has the most flavor.
Meanwhile, egg whites are made up of proteins and water. When whipped, the egg whites will trap air bubbles and work as a natural leavening agent. Before baking powder and baking soda, eggs were one of the main things used in cakes as a raising agent.
Here are some tips to remember when whipping eggs:
- Use a clean, dry glass, stainless steel, or copper bowl. Chefs love copper because minute amounts of the copper combine to make the whites more stable;
- Use a balloon whisk. There are more thin wires, and its larger head gets more air into the whites;
- If you’re whisking by hand, then have patience. It takes between 12 and 18 minutes;
- If you’re using a mixer, then it can take around 3–4 minutes;
- You can add 1tsp of cream of tartar to help stabilize the whites;
- Check the recipe to see if you need soft peaks or hard peaks; and
- If you notice your egg whites start to curdle or go lumpy, then they have been overbeaten. The best thing is to start again
When recipes talk about stabilizing eggs, you can use cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar. It will help retain the bubbles and keep your peaks stiffer.
Once your egg whites are foamy, they’re ready to be added to the other ingredients. The idea of all that hard whisking is to have lots of air in the whites. You can’t just throw in everything else.
So if you’re making a cake or a soufflé, then you need to gently fold the egg whites into the mixture. Folding in egg whites will not beat out the air. Add sugar to your egg whites. This makes it incredibly stable, and you can make meringue or even pipe the whites into any shape you want.
As mentioned earlier, gluten is a key ingredient in baking. This strengthens bread dough and cake batter. It helps it to rise by holding the bread together, trapping the air bubbles.
So for cakes, we recommend gluten-free flour, baking soda, and lemon. It is a good idea to whisk your egg whites too. This helps make up for the lack of gluten.
Some people are nervous about using egg whites. Don’t be. This is an ideal way to bake your favorite goodies without baking soda or baking powder.
Beating egg whites add lots of air. When cooked, these air bubbles expand. Now, this is a perfectly natural way for food to rise.
Yeast works similarly to baking powder and baking soda. It works wonders as a raising agent. The difference is that yeast is natural. Baking powder and baking soda are considered chemical raising agents. There is also a difference in taste.
You can buy yeast fresh or dried. In both cases, you will need to wake the yeast up. It takes a warm liquid and some form of sugar (sugar, honey, fruit juice).
Sugar feeds the organisms in the yeast that creates carbon dioxide. It’s a brilliant substitute for bread because of the added flavor.
Many recipes will tell you to activate the yeast, let the yeast rise or both. It takes about 10 minutes for the yeast to activate, and 45 minutes to rise. So if you have made bread dough, then it’ll need 45 minutes before you can bake it. But keep in mind that using yeast in some cases might not be the best choice is you are short of time.
For an average-sized loaf of bread, you will need about two ½tsps of active dry yeast. Other popular dishes that you can use yeast in rather than baking powder are bagels, English Muffins, and pretzels.
Have you ever tried chocolate beer cake? What about the traditional Yorkshire puddings (from the North of England) using beer batter? Beers vary in strength and taste, but all beers are made with yeast.
Now adding beer to your cake batter can create a rich flavor. The yeast will encourage the cake to rise.
Yorkshire puddings are savory. They are a typical part of an English Sunday roast. All you need is flour, beer, eggs, and a splash of oil. The batter will rise to about three times its original size! And no baking powder in sight!
Yeast is a natural way to add volume to numerous recipes. It requires more time, but this doesn’t make it difficult. It’s fundamental in bread recipes. The bread you make at home has no comparison to shop-bought bread. And beer is a wonderful way to use yeast for delicious light cakes.
6. Lemon Juice & Vinegar
Lemon juice and vinegar both act in the same way when you combine them with baking soda. The acid reacts to the alkaline in the baking soda.
As soon as you mix them, you’ll see a reaction. It will start to bubble and fizz. To substitute baking powder, you need to mix:
- ½tsp lemon juice + ¼tsp baking soda = 1tsp of baking powder; or
- ½tsp vinegar + ¼tsp baking soda = 1tsp of baking powder
Whether to use vinegar or lemon will depend on the recipe you’re making. There are several kinds of vinegar you could use, such as white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic, and apple cider vinegar. You can imagine that balsamic vinegar is going to make your cookies taste a little off. Also, the sour taste of the vinegar won’t go well in cakes.
The best use for vinegar and baking soda as a substitute for baking powder is to make cookies. White wine vinegar and baking soda will add lightness to cookies. They will stay airy in the middle but crispy on the outside.
Some chefs have used baking powder to marinate chicken. Instead, you can use a mixture of baking soda with stronger flavored vinegar. Red wine vinegar and baking powder go great with red meats. Apple cider vinegar and the baking powder will add sweetness to your pork. In both cases, the combination of vinegar and baking soda will tenderize the meat.
Lemon juice will add a lovely zesty taste to cakes. If you want a light sponge cake, then you can combine several of the suggestions we have made so far. Lemon juice and the baking powder will work wonders, but you could also add yogurt and whisk your egg whites separately.
Everyone has either lemon or vinegar in their kitchen. There is no need to go shopping to make your baking powder. If you have leftover lemon juice and baking soda, then keep in mind that it makes a great skin cleanser. Also, vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean saucepans. So you don’t waste anything with these baking powder substitutes.
Molasses is the general name for a very thick, sweet liquid that comes from refined sugarcane. The type of molasses depends on the amount of sugar, the way it is extracted and the age of the sugarcane.
Molasses are healthier than refined sugar. They contain Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and iron. If you are going to eat cake, it should be a healthy one.
A different method to activate yeast is by using molasses. It is the sugar that will “feed” the yeast. If you want to use it as a raising agent, then you’ll need to add:
- ¼ cup molasses + ¼tsp baking soda = 1tsp baking powder
The reason why this works so well as a rising agent is because it’s acidic, just like lemon juice and vinegar. When you use this in recipes, you’ll need to adjust the other ingredients.
Molasses are sweeter than sugar. So take this into consideration. You’ll also need to think of the liquid consistency of your batter mix.
As a raising agent, molasses and baking soda can replace baking powder in gingerbread muffins, bread, and cookies. It can also be used to make a sticky toffee pudding like no other.
The molasses can be used with baking soda in the cake base as well as in the sauce. If you want to marinate meat, then try ginger chicken kabobs or sticky spare ribs. The sweetness will add flavor, and the baking soda will soften the meat.
But now for a couple of tips for using molasses — Because of its heaviness, make sure your oven is preheated to the correct temperature. This way, the mixture will start to cook faster without air bubbles escaping.
Molasses is sticky. Measuring by cups is a great, straightforward method, but half the molasses seems to stick to the cup! Rub a little oil around the cup first. It will help the molasses slide out.B
8. Cream of Tartar
It’s easy to make your baking powder because cream of tartar is something that most bakers already have in their cupboard. Making your raising agent with this powder will result in a healthy option. This’ll also render a more natural taste.
The scientific terms for the cream of tartar are potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen. It is a tartaric acid that comes from producing wine. When mixed with baking soda, it produces carbon dioxide. This will cause your baking recipes to rise.
Cream of tartar used to be in baking powder. So you can see why it’ll work well. It functions in the same way as other substitutes we have seen. The acid will mix with the alkaline in the baking soda to create carbon dioxide.
The advantage of using cream of tartar is ideal liquid consistency. If you’re going to use vinegar or lemon juice, then you’re going to add more liquid to the recipe. You might need to adjust other ingredients.
You’ll also need more vinegar to get the same bubbly reaction. This could affect the taste. However, if you use too much cream of tartar, then you might end up with a bitter taste. So the correct combination is:
- ½tsp cream of tartar + ¼tsp baking soda = 1tsp baking powder
The reason to use this over baking powder is that it is aluminum-free. Many store-bought baking powder products contain sodium aluminum sulfate. This can leave a slight metallic taste in your cakes.
Your cream of tartar and baking soda are ideal for all cake and cookie recipes. In particular, you could try angel food cake with lemon curd or citrus meringue pie.
If you mix too much cream of tartar and baking soda, then don’t throw it away. This mixture is brilliant for cleaning stainless steel and rust stains. It can also revive dishes that have been scratched.
9. Baker’s Ammonia
This might seem a peculiar alternative, but Baker’s Ammonia is a good baking powder substitute. Before baking powder or baking soda was used, Baker’s Ammonia was the main raising agent. It was what lots of people used in family recipes that have been passed down through generations.
When searching for Baker’s Ammonia, you might find it under the name “ammonium carbonate.” But before we dig into its benefits, there is one warning — Baker’s Ammonia has a very strong smell. So strong it was waved under the noses of Victorian ladies to bring them back around after a dizzy spell!
Though this smell won’t affect the taste of your cooking, it can only be used in certain recipes.
You won’t need to mix Baker’s Ammonia with anything else. When heated, it breaks down into ammonia, water, and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide will elevate the food. The ammonia gas will escape. The escaping gas makes Baker’s Ammonia only suitable for cookie style recipes. If you try to use it in cakes, then the ammonia gas will get trapped in the cake.
Another reason for its excellent fluffiness is its tiny crystals. When the dough heats up, the crystals decompose. You then get air pockets in its place. These two reactions make for light, crunchy crumbs. Also, you won’t get commercial, metallic flavors that you would from baking powder.
Baker’s Ammonia is the first substitute in this list that’s a double-acting agent. This means it’ll produce double the air bubbles. If you make cookie dough, then it needs to rest before baking. Baker’s Ammonia starts to work while the dough is resting. It will go into the second phase in the cooking when the heat is added.
In Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Baker’s Ammonia is still used in crackers. In Poland, this is also common in their traditional recipes like rolled sugar cookies. Meanwhile, the Germans make spiced Christmas cookies with this, too.
Baker’s Ammonia is great for cookies and crackers. Make sure you store the cooked goods in an air-tight container.
Don’t be put off by the smell. It’s an amazing ingredient. If you see a recipe that requires Baker’s Ammonia, then don’t be tempted to substitute it with baking powder. On the contrary, teach your young bakers how to use it and keep the traditional recipes alive.
10. Potassium Bicarbonate
This white powder can be used instead of baking powder and baking soda. It’s a good choice for people who are on a low sodium diet. Its origin has nothing to do with cooking. It was developed by a steam engineer back in 1788.
This powder is used in a variety of baked goods as a chemical raising agent. You can guess from its name that it’s high in potassium. Potassium is key for keeping your muscles healthy and regulating your heartbeat and blood pressure. Finally, a pancake that’s good for your heart!
Potassium bicarbonate works in two ways. For both, you will need to dissolve it in water. This first method involves an acidic ingredient like lemon or vinegar.
For the second method, you can heat the watered-down potassium bicarbonate. The first and second methods will produce carbon dioxide.
You can use potassium bicarbonate in cakes, cookies, donuts, pancakes, waffles, muffins, and crackers. It works well in any recipe that uses baking powder. You can also get a potassium intake equivalent to one small banana while reducing your sodium intake by 20–50%.
The disadvantage of using this as a substitute is that it’s tricky to measure out. You need to use 19% more than you would baking soda. It’s difficult to measure 19% of a teaspoon. Not many non-professional bakers have scales that measure so accurately.
It’s also not an ingredient that is found everywhere. The best place to buy it is on the Web.
Many people say this is the best alternative for a raising agent if you don’t have baking powder. Even though it is chemically based, it’s a healthier option. You don’t need to worry about the type of food you are making. It will make any recipe airy and light.
11. Club Soda
Club soda is unflavored carbonated water. It has potassium bicarbonate, potassium carbonate or sodium citrate added to it. This gives it the bubbles and an almost salty taste.
You’ve probably guessed that these additives are going to give us the raising agent that’s needed. Club soda is easy to find in any shop, unlike some of the substitutes in this roundup.
There isn’t a lot of rising power in Club soda because it is mainly water. You won’t be able to just replace any liquid with it. We found that the best options for club soda as a three agent are in batter recipes for fried foods.
To make a batter, you’ll need flour, cornstarch and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Slowly add in the club soda, until you get the right consistency. The lemon juice will react with the club soda and add extra bubbles to the batter. The lemon juice adds flavor to fish, pork, and chicken.
To make pizza dough, you’ll need a small amount of water. If you like a deep crusty base, then you can swap the water for club soda. You can also do this in some pastry recipes. Again, it won’t be a great amount, but you will notice a difference.
If you’re a fan of ready-made cake mixes and don’t have eggs, then you can use club soda. This’ll make a better liquid base than normal water. If you’re making your cake from scratch, then think about the flavor first.
For white or yellow cakes (victoria sponge or lemon drizzle), club soda is an excellent alternative to baking powder. For a chocolate cake, beer would be a better substitute.
12. Sour Milk
Now just to be clear, there’s a big difference between sour milk and spoiled milk. Sour milk is unpasteurized milk fermented with natural bacteria found in milk. Meanwhile, spoiled milk is milk that has turned and expired.
As fermentation takes a while, you might want to make your own using lemon juice or vinegar. Add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk. Stir it and leave it for five minutes.
The milk is now called acidified milk. It should have thickened during the five minutes. If you have sweetened condensed milk that you want to use up, then you can make sour milk.
Instead of the cup of water, use a ½ cup of sweetened condensed milk and half a cup of water. And now that your sour milk is ready, you can make baking powder substitute out of it through:
- ½ cup sour milk + ¼tsp baking soda = 1tsp baking powder
As described earlier, the combination of the acidic sour milk and the alkaline baking soda will release carbon dioxide and create light and airy recipes. Remember, many recipes require milk, buttermilk or even sour cream. This can be replaced with sour milk. When mixed with baking soda, it can be used to make fluffier cakes, muffins and cookies.
But our main concern with this baking powder substitute is the amount of liquid. If the recipe requires liquids, then there won’t be a problem. But if it’s a cake batter, then you’ll need to compensate the dry ingredients so that you don’t end up with soggy, uncooked food.
We feel that pancakes are the best food to make with this baking powder substitute. A standard recipe uses milk and baking powder. Use sour milk to add richness to the flavor. Using baking soda will reduce the chance of a metallic, factory-made dessert.
Also keep in mind that while buttermilk and sour milk have the same effect and appear to be made the same way, they are not interchangeable. Using one instead of the other can significantly change the texture of your recipe.
So What’s the Best Baking Powder Substitute in This Roundup?
Albert Einstein once told his chef, “Cooking is a science as much as it is an art.” And this is certainly true in baking. This requires exact measurements to get a light and fluffy dessert. You might have thought that this requires a bit of baking powder to achieve this.
There are some baking powder substitutes that we can group in terms of how they work. Cream of tartar, lemon juice, and vinegar are all acidic. When you mix baking soda to any of them, you will get a chemical reaction.
Now, this chemical reaction creates carbon dioxide. This, in turn, produces the air bubbles that we need to work into the batter to get fluffy cakes and cookies.
Any of these 3 ingredients that you choose should depend on the final flavor you wish to achieve. Cream of tartar is tangy. Meanwhile, lemon juice is citrusy. On the other hand, vinegar is sour.
So cream of tartar can be used in cakes or cookies. Lemon juice is more suited for cakes. Vinegar is for some cookie recipes.
All of these options are easy to find in your kitchen for the day you don’t have baking powder. Don’t forget that leftovers can be used for cleaning and skin cleansers!
Meanwhile, plain yogurt, sour milk, and buttermilk are also similar. Plain yogurt and sour milk are interchangeable. If a recipe says buttermilk, then use buttermilk. To activate the raising agent, you need to add baking soda.
In the same way as before, this produces carbon dioxide. The only downside to these options is that they will affect the consistency of your batter. So you need to adjust your dry ingredients accordingly.
On the other hand, things like frying batter and pizza dough are better off with a bit of club soda rather than plain water. For making ready-made pancakes or cakes, always substitute water for club soda. The ready mix probably has baking powder added, but club soda will make the dessert even lighter.
Moving on, yeast and molasses are like the winter warmer versions of acid and alkaline combinations. They are natural raising agents and are generally healthier versions. They aren’t just substitutes for baking powder — They’re improvements!
Molasses will need the help of baking soda to fluff up your recipes. Yeast will only need some patience.
When using either of these as a substitute, you will get the same height as with baking powder. But you will get a hearty, rich taste, particularly in chocolate cake recipes.
We have all heard of the benefits of vitamin C, but not many people know about its ability to make cakes rise. It makes sense that it will add a nice fruity taste to a cake. So don’t forget to add it to your bread recipes.
So now let’s talk about eggs. These are in a league of their own. We promised never to use an egg in our baking without properly whisking it first. Remember if you want light and airy meringues, then add a little cream of tartar, lemon juice or sugar to stabilize the eggs.
Overall, self-raising flour is the safest option as a substitute for baking powder. It has all the necessary components to make your recipes rise and taste light and delicious. It’s cheap and easy to find. We advise self-raising flour for those with the minimal baking experience.
Finally, science — Baker’s Ammonia and Potassium Bicarbonate may not be in your kitchen. But we recommend buying some to try in your baking. They have been around for much longer than baking powder.
Both of these options make light cakes and cookies that are fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. You will get better flavors than what you often get when you use baking powder. You’ll also be able to try a load of new recipes from countries like Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, and Easter European countries.
Whichever baking powder substitute you choose as your favorite alternative, we would advise you to try each of them twice. This way you can get a feel for the best alternatives out there for your recipes.