Can I use baking powder instead of baking soda? (Explained)

Baking powder and baking soda are both chemical yeasts that, when added to a pastry recipe, help the preparation to rise. 

So, can you use baking powder instead of baking soda?

Yes, you can use baking powder in place of baking soda. Baking powder is, in fact, one of the best substitutes for baking soda. However, you cannot replace them at equal ratios; there is a trick.

Continue reading to discover more about baking soda and baking powder for confectionery purposes.

What is baking soda?

Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, is a white alkaline powder with a pH of 8.3 and a crystalline texture. When combined with liquids and acidic ingredients such as eggs or yogurt, they become activated and give off bubbles of carbon dioxide, which cause the baked goods to rise. 

Baking soda is usually used in recipes that contain an acidic ingredient. 

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What is baking powder?

Baking powder is also white but has a more spongy consistency. 

Unlike baking soda, baking powder does not need to combine with an acidic ingredient to activate and cause a leavening effect; the baking powder is a complete leavening agent on its own. It already contains sodium bicarbonate and an acid (usually tartar cream or citric acid) to make the preparation rise.  

Most baking powder also includes cornstarch, which acts as a buffer to prevent the powder from reacting when stored.

To use baking powder, add it to a liquid to create a reaction.

Why do some recipes include both powders?

Sometimes, bakers find that the carbon dioxide created from the acid and baking soda is not enough to leaven the amount of batter in the recipe; that is, they need more acid than they have available in the recipe. Hence, it becomes necessary also to include baking powder. 

Another reason to use baking soda and baking powder is that they enhance the browning and flavor of the recipe.

Substituting baking soda with baking powder – Our recommendation

You can substitute baking soda with baking powder as they have similar characteristics, making baked goods rise. However, note that baking soda contains a higher sodium level than baking powder, its potency being about three times that of baking powder.

You will have to use a higher amount of baking powder to get a similar result as baking soda; you cannot substitute them equally. 

How to substitute baking soda with baking powder

To use baking powder in place of baking soda, you will need three times as much baking powder. For every teaspoon of baking soda you need, you have to substitute it with three teaspoons of baking powder. The numerical explanation for this is 1:3.

How to substitute baking powder with baking soda

Remember that baking soda is more concentrated than baking powder, so you’ll need additional ingredients to help create a proper reaction.

To do this, add two teaspoons of cream of tartar to one teaspoon of baking soda to form a mixture. Afterward, you can add an equal portion of the mixture as you would need for a baking powder. For example, if the recipe requires two tablespoons of baking powder, use two tablespoons of the above mixture.

What happens if I use baking powder instead of baking soda?

Although you can substitute baking soda with baking powder, you may experience a slightly bitter taste. 

Other substitutes for baking soda

Ammonium carbonate (Baker’s ammonia)

This powder is widely used for imparting distinct crispiness to baked goods like cookies and crackers. It can be used in an equal ratio when replacing baking soda.

Self-rising flour

Self-rising flour is another excellent substitute for baking soda. Each cup of this flour contains one and a half teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt. 

Potassium bicarbonate

This yeast is especially beneficial for those who want to cut down on their sodium intake. It can be added in equal measure as you would your baking soda.

However, due to its low salt content, you may notice a slight change in the taste of your dish, but you can add a little salt to enhance its flavor. 

Egg whites

Whipped egg white can also be used as a rising agent when you can’t reach a cup of baking soda.

Beat egg whites until foamy and stiff, then fold them into your batter. Be sure to decrease the amount of other liquid in the recipe to compensate for the egg white added.

Six handy substitutes for baking powder

The following mixtures work best as substitutes for baking powder.

Lemon juice

Use ½ tsp lemon juice and ¼ (1 gram) baking soda as a substitute for a teaspoon of baking powder.

Buttermilk

This is a fermented dairy product with a slightly tangy taste, similar to plain yogurt.

For one teaspoon of baking powder, add 1/2 a cup of buttermilk and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.

Vinegar

White vinegar works well for this process. To substitute one teaspoon of baking powder, mix half a teaspoon of vinegar with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.

Sour milk

Use half a cup of sour milk and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in place of one teaspoon of baking powder.

Yogurt

Yogurt is slightly acidic, making it an easy substitution. Add half a cup of yogurt to ¼ teaspoon of baking soda for a beautiful baking powder replacement.

Molasses

Molasses have a pH of 5.5, which is acidic enough to work as a leavening agent with baking soda. For a teaspoon of baking powder, add ¼ cup molasses to ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.

FAQs

Are baking powder and baking soda the same?

Although often used interchangeably, baking powder is not the same as baking soda. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and other ingredients such as tartar cream and cornstarch. 

How much baking powder should I use instead of baking soda?

Use three teaspoons of baking powder for every one teaspoon of baking soda.

Conclusion

As you have seen from this article, you can use baking powder to substitute for baking soda. For the best results, we recommend using a ratio of 1: 3 when replacing baking soda with baking powder.