Baking soda is a staple ingredient not just in baking but in lots of other household tasks as well. Did you know there are countless cleaning tutorials out there that specifically mention the use of baking soda?
But going back to the kitchen, baking soda allows our chocolate chip cookies, lemon cupcakes, banana pancakes, and all other baked goods to rise.
So, what happens when you find out you have none of it left (maybe you used all of them when you cleaned your sink)? The easy answer would be to use a baking soda substitute.
Baking Soda: What You Need to Know
Apart from cooking and cleaning, baking soda also helps keep countless homes safe. It's an integral component in fire extinguishers, allowing them to produce the familiar soapy foam.
How can baking soda do this? What's in this ingredient? Let's answer these questions before moving forward to the best substitutes.
What's Baking Soda?
Baking soda also goes by its lesser-known name "sodium bicarbonate." It's a chemical often added to other baking ingredients to help the dough rise.
People often assume that baking soda and baking powder are the same thing. However, they're quite different. Baking powder contains baking soda, along with other ingredients like cream of tartar and cornstarch.
How Does Baking Soda Work?
Baking soda is a base compound, and it needs acidic ingredients to trigger a chemical reaction known as an acid-base reaction.
This is also why you often see recipes with baking soda that also include lemon juice, buttermilk, yogurt, or vinegar (since all of these are acidic ingredients).
The acid-base reaction releases carbon dioxide gas and forms tiny bubbles in the dough or batter that makes it rise. In essence, it provides more volume to our baked goods.
Best Baking Soda Substitutes
So, what substitutes baking soda in a recipe? Is there really an ingredient that can provide a similar reaction to our baked goods?
I'll help you choose the best substitute for baking soda using the list below.
1. Baking Powder
As I've mentioned earlier, baking powder already contains baking soda, which means using this as a substitute will trigger a similar reaction in your dough.
However, since baking powder also contains an acid component, you will need to use more baking powder (also because baking powder is weaker than baking soda).
The best way to use baking powder as a substitute is to use three times the amount of baking soda you need. So, if the recipe calls for one teaspoon of baking soda, use three teaspoons of baking powder.
Remember that baking powder also adds a salty flavor to your baked goods, so consider reducing the proportions of other salty ingredients in the recipe.
Try it on this White Chocolate Muffins recipe.
2. Whipped Egg Whites
Whipped egg whites are another one of the best substitutes for baking soda. If you've ever seen beaten egg whites, you'd notice it has an airy texture to it.
You can transfer this airiness to your dough or batter, making it the perfect substitute for baked goods that require a lot of volume and a fluffy texture.
I sometimes prefer this substitute as well because of the rich flavor it adds to the baked goods. If the recipe calls for eggs, you don't have to add anything else.
Simply separate the yolk from the egg whites and whip the latter until you get the desired consistency. Using it as a substitute baking soda, however, is a bit tricky.
Instead of using the same amount of baking soda called for in the recipe, you need to replace the liquid instead.
For example, if the recipe needs three tablespoons of water or milk, use 3 tablespoons of whipped egg whites.
3. Self-Rising Flour
The name of this substitute alone tells you what it can do to your recipe. Self-rising flour contains baking soda and salt (so adjust the salt requirements in the recipe when you use this substitute).
However, it is a flour-based substitute, which means you must only use it in recipes that include flour. Otherwise, you'll ruin the consistency of your baked good.
You also get to practice your math skills when using this. A cup of self-rising flour contains 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Here's an Air Fryer Banana Bread recipe to try it on.
4. Club Soda
If you regularly make cocktail drinks at home, you may use club soda as a substitute for baking soda, albeit the leavening effect will not be as significant.
Nonetheless, club soda is a carbonated beverage, and you can borrow the bubbly carbon dioxide to help your dough or batter to rise.
Reminder: Don't use tonic water. Even though it's also a carbonated drink, it does not contain sodium bicarbonate, which means its chemical components are very different from club soda.
Also, since this is a liquid substitute, you must compensate for the extra moisture by replacing the other liquid ingredients (like water or milk) in the recipe. Do so in a 1:1 ratio.
5. Whipped Cream
Like club soda, you can use whipped cream in recipes where the leavening agent doesn't play a major role. (Hint: pancakes)
It will add a bit of an airy texture to your recipe but don't expect it to be as efficient as baking soda. Nonetheless, it's an excellent substitute because of its neutral taste.
Replace another liquid in the recipe with whipped cream on a 1:1 ratio, but be sure to beat it for about 5 minutes first so it's fluffy.
Test this substitute on my Mirror Glaze Galaxy Cake recipe.
6. Potassium Bicarbonate
As I said earlier, baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and sodium basically means salt. If you take the salt out of it, you get potassium bicarbonate.
Ergo, to replace baking soda, you will need salt + potassium bicarbonate. However, this chemical compound is difficult to find.
If you happen to have some or find one in grocery stores or online, you can use it as a substitute baking soda in a 1:1 ratio. Don't forget to add salt!
7. Baker's Ammonia
If you've ever smelled ammonia, you already know how pungent the odor of this substitute is. But if you can get through it, baker's ammonia will help your baked goods rise.
Don't worry. The odor disappears once you bake the mixture. It's the grandfather of baking soda, and even though it was first introduced in the 1830s, you will still find baker's ammonia in specialty stores or online.
You can substitute baking soda with baker's ammonia in a 1:1 ratio.
Try using it on this Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.
How to Replace Baking Soda
There are only two things you need to consider when looking for a substitute for baking soda; efficiency and availability.
Consider your recipe.
Just because a baking soda substitute is efficient doesn't mean it's the best alternative. It always depends on your recipe.
Do you need volume? Does the recipe include flour? Are there liquid ingredients you can replace? Answering these questions will lead you to the best substitute.
The next and last thing you must consider is availability. For instance, potassium bicarbonate and baker's ammonia are highly efficient substitutes, and you can use them in a 1:1 ratio.
However, they're not widely available. Which of the substitutes for baking soda do you have at home or is easy to find?
If that alternative works great with your recipe, you just found the best substitute baking soda.
Baking Soda Substitute FAQs
Baking powder, egg white (whipped), and self-rising flour are some of the best substitutes for baking soda. But if you have club soda, whipped cream, potassium bicarbonate, or ammonium bicarbonate, these should work as well.
The quick answer is no, you can't use cornstarch as a substitute for baking soda. Cornstarch is a thickening agent while baking soda is a leavening agent. You'll end up with a flat baked good if you use cornstarch.
Pancakes and cookies will turn out just fine (albeit less airy and fluffy) even if you don't use baking soda. However, cakes and cupcakes will turn out flat and dense without it.
Improving Your Baked Goods with a Baking Soda Substitute
Baking soda is the magic ingredient that produces light and fluffy baked goods. Thankfully, it's not the end of the world yet if you run out of this magic powder.
Use any of the substitutes above to save your dessert (but make sure it works well with your recipe). If there are other ingredients you wish to replace, check out the long list of articles in Also The Crumbs, Please.
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Baking Soda Substitute
Option 1 (Baking Powder)
- 3 teaspoon baking powder
Option 2 (Whipped Egg Whites)
- 3 eggs
Option 3 (Self-Rising Flour)
- 1 cup self-rising flour
Option 1 (Baking Powder)
- Use three times the amount of baking soda called for in the recipe. (1 teaspoon of baking soda = 3 teaspoons of baking powder)
Option 2 (Whipped Egg Whites)
- Crack the eggs and separate the yolk from the egg whites in a different container.
- Whip the egg whites until they become fluffy, almost like yogurt.
- Replace the liquid in the recipe with whipped egg whites in a 1:1 ratio. (1 tablespoon of milk/water = 1 tablespoon of whipped egg whites)
- If the recipe does not include a liquid ingredient, start with one egg white to replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Adjust the proportions until you reach your desired consistency.
Option 3 (Self-Rising Flour)
- Use 1 cup of self-rising flour for every 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder called for in the recipe.
- For every cup of self-rising flour you use, reduce ¼ teaspoon of salt called for in the recipe.
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