How to Substitute for Baking Powder and Baking Soda

Baking powder and baking soda both are leavening agents, which means they help baked goods to rise. They aren’t the same chemical, but you can substitute one for another in recipes. Here’s how to work the substitutions and what to expect.

Substitute for Baking Soda: Using Baking Powder Instead of Baking Soda

You need to use two to three times more baking powder than baking soda. This is because baking powder contains baking soda, but it also includes additional compounds. The extra ingredients in baking powder will affect the taste of whatever you are making, but this isn't necessarily bad.

  • Ideally, triple the amount of baking powder to equal the amount of baking soda. So, if the recipe calls for 1 tsp. of baking soda, you would use 3 tsp. of baking powder.
  • Another option is to compromise and use twice the amount of baking powder as baking soda (add 2 tsp. of baking powder if the recipe calls for 1 tsp. of baking soda). If you choose this option, you might wish to omit or reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. Salt adds flavor but it also affects rising in some recipes.

Substitute for Baking Powder: How to Make It Yourself

You need baking soda and cream of tartar to make homemade baking powder.

  • Mix 2 parts cream of tartar with 1 part baking soda. For example, mix 2 tsp of cream of tartar with 1 tsp of baking soda.
  • Use the amount of homemade baking powder called for by the recipe. No matter how much homemade baking powder you made, if the recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp., add exactly 1 1/2 tsp. of your mixture. If you have leftover homemade baking powder, you can store it in a labeled, zipper-type plastic bag to use later.

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Cream of tartar increases the acidity of a mixture. So, you can't always use baking soda in recipes that call for baking powder without adding another ingredient. Both are leavening agents, but baking soda needs an acidic ingredient to trigger the leavening, while baking powder already contains an acidic ingredient: cream of tartar. You can switch baking powder for baking soda, but expect the flavor to change a little.

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You might wish to make and use homemade baking powder even if you can purchase commercial baking powder. This gives you complete control over the ingredients. Commercial baking powder contains baking soda and, usually, 5 to 12 percent monocalcium phosphate along with 21 to 26 percent sodium aluminum sulfate. People wishing to limit aluminum exposure might do better with the homemade version.

Do Baking Soda and Baking Powder Go Bad?

Baking powder and baking soda don’t exactly go bad, but they do undergo chemical reactions sitting on the shelf for months or years that cause them to lose their effectiveness as leavening agents. The higher the humidity, the faster the ingredients lose their potency.


Fortunately, if you’re concerned they’ve been in the pantry for too long, it’s easy to test baking powder and baking soda for freshness: Mix a teaspoon of baking powder with 1/3 cup hot water; lots of bubbles means it’s fresh. For baking soda, dribble a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice onto 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Again, vigorous bubbling means it’s still good.

Baking powder and baking soda aren't the only ingredients you might need to substitute in a recipe. There are also simple substitutions for ingredients such as cream of tartar, buttermilk, milk, and different types of flour.

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  • Lindsay, Robert C. (1996). Owen R. Fennema (ed.). Food Chemistry (3rd ed.). CRC Press. 
  • Matz, Samuel A. (1992). Bakery Technology and Engineering (3rd ed.). Springer.
  • McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking (revised ed.). Scribner-Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416556374.
  • Savoie, Lauren (2015). “Taste Test: Baking Powder”. Cook’s Country (66): 31. ISSN 1552-1990.
  • Stauffer, Clyde E.; Beech, G. (1990). Functional Additives for Bakery Foods. Springer.


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About the Author: Thien Bao

Hello, my name is ThienBao. I am a freelance developer specializing in various types of code.