Baking powder has always struck me as quite magical. Typically used in tandem with basic baking soda, a teeny, tiny teaspoon of acidic baking powder can leaven an army of cookies, a trio of cake layers, or stack of pillowy tortillas alike.
But while they look similarly and often work side-by-side, baking powder and baking soda are not to be used interchangeably. Because baking soda relies on a certain amount of acid to be present to leaven a baked good, swapping baking soda for baking powder will yield a batter that’s improperly risen and overly basic (metallic-tasting). But before you run to the store, consider one of these three substitutes, all made from pantry staples.
Best Baking Powder Substitutes
Make your own!
That’s right—you can make your own baking powder right at home. For every 1 teaspoon you need, combine 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. For a larger, storable batch combine 1 part baking soda with 1 part cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) and 2 parts cream of tartar.
A neutral-tasting acid, like white vinegar or lemon juice, will react with baking soda to create the leavening powers you need. To substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder, combine 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon vinegar.
Self-rising flour has—you guessed it—leavening agents added. For each cup of self-rising flour, you can expect 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to be present. Sub self-rising in for all-purpose flour 1:1, omitting any other leaveners in the recipe.
Coral Lee is an Associate Editor at Food52. Before this, she cooked food solely for photos. Before that, she cooked food solely for customers. And before that, she shot lasers at frescoes in Herculaneum and taught yoga.
When she's not writing about or making food, she's thinking about it. Her Heritage Radio Network show, "Meant to be Eaten," explores cross-cultural exchange as afforded by food. You can follow her on Instagram @meanttobeeaten.