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Can I Use Baking Powder Instead of Baking Soda?

Updated on August 24, 2011

I said maybe and that's final

Both baking powder and baking soda are commonly used as chemical leavening agents, which is to say they make bread, biscuits and cakes rise when introduced (in the case of baking soda)to moisture and heat. The essence of the question lies in their deceptively common attributes, appearance and role. Nevertheless, the short answer to the question of whether baking soda and powder can be used as substitutes is a resounding maybe.

To fully understand the differences between the two, as well as where and which to use, please continue reading.


  • Baking soda requires the addition of an acid if the food being prepared does not contain some.
  • Baking powder works with alkaline foods because it already contains acid!

What's the difference?

The main differences lie in their chemical composition. Unlike baking powder, baking soda releases Co2, causing batter or dough to expand when combined with an acid and moisture. If you are intent on using baking soda, there is also a secondary problem you will need to factor in, namely, that it produces sodium carbonate. When baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is heated, it produces sodium carbonate which can taste relatively unpleasant.Adding a commonly found house-hold acid such as lemon can not only be used to neutralize the residue, but it also helps baking soda release Co2 more rapidly, quickening the baking process noticeably.

Baking powder is a more complete and well-rounded solution because it already contains the acid needed for the leavening process. If you are substituting buttermilk (acidic) for milk (alkaline) in your recipe, remember that you will no longer be able to use baking soda unless you find another acidic source!

Smart Ingredients. Smarter Cook.

Knowing how to work with what you have is, as I'm sure you'll agree, the essence of a good cook. If you are short on both time and baking powder and you have no likely acidic candidate, you will benefit from knowing a list of substitute ingredients with which to work.

Perhaps the most common and best known acidic additive is citric acid, found in lemons. I have compiled a tables allowing you a quick reference when looking for substitutes. If you are hellbent on not compromising your ingredients and instead wish to use baking powder, but don't have any at hand, consider making your own (I have included a brief guide at the end of this article).

Some Substitute Suggestions

Acidic (Baking soda)
Alkaline (Baking powder)
Soy Milk
Sweet Potatoes

DIY Baking Powder

While it may be difficult to mask the taste of sodium carbonate, surmounting the acidity barrier can be as easy as making your own baking powder. After-all, the two are very similar. The good news is that making your own baking powder is no way reduces its efficiency, you are making a functional clone. The bad news is that it will necessitate further ingredients. In order to make your own substitute baking powder mix and store (in the fridge) the following ingredients together:

  1. 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  2. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

That concludes my article, I have tried to cover as many angles as possible, if you find and holes in my facts or wish to suggest more information please use the comment module below this text!

Thanks for stopping by,



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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      I don't like the flavor of baking soda - I can tell when things have it in them - so I always substitute and use baking powder instead. I haven't noticed a difference in the final product.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've done this before! haha so far nothings happened. im sure in the future it'll screw something up. Nice hub!

    • Sunnyglitter profile image


      8 years ago from Cyberspace

      I have substituted baking powder for baking soda before, and the results weren't too bad.

    • Winsome profile image


      8 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey Thoog, I have pondered these very questions, being a cookie addict. I found that, as you so ably point out, that if you are short Cream of Tartar, you can still make your Snickerdoodles using baking powder. btw did you know that cream of tartar is made from the residue after crushing grapes. We will not even picture sassy village women dancing barefoot in the grapes here--oops too late. =:)

    • Wbisbill profile image


      8 years ago from Tennessee USA

      A very interesting hub. I asked this question while cooking the other day. My wife did not know! Now, I have a definite maybe. Thumbs up!


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