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). Here we’re sharing six popular baking powder substitutes, all of which are made from common pantry staples.
1. Make homemade baking powder
That’s right, you can make your own baking powder right at home—here's how:
- For every 1 teaspoon of baking powder you need, combine 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch.
- For a larger, storable batch of homemade baking powder, combine one part baking soda with one part cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) and 2 parts cream of tartar.
2. Vinegar or Lemon Juice
Liquid acids, like white vinegar or lemon juice, will react with baking soda to create the leavening powers you need. Just note that adding lemon juice may add a bit of flavor, so this is best when you're already making a citrusy baked good, or something that will complement the lemon. To substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder:
3. Self-Rising Flour
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 baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to be present. You can substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour using a 1:1 ratio, omitting any other leaveners in the recipe.
4. Plain Yogurt
Because plain yogurt is a naturally acidic ingredient, it works well as a substitute for baking powder in most recipes. However, tread carefully with this one—if you use this method, you should reduce the other liquids in the recipe by 1/2 cup total. Here's how to make a DIY baking powder substitute with plain yogurt:
- Add 1/2 cup plain yogurt to the wet ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients, which is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
Another acidic form of dairy, mixing buttermilk with baking soda will recreate the same leavening effect found in baking powder. Similar to plain yogurt, to maintain your desired consistency, reduce other liquids by the amount of buttermilk added. To substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder:
- Add 1/2 cup buttermilk to the wet ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients.
Molasses is acidic enough to create a leavening effect when paired with baking soda. In this case, you’ll want to reduce liquids by the amount of molasses used and consider decreasing the amount of sugar used because molasses is already quite sweet (keep in mind sugar is considered a liquid in baking, as it melts, so decreasing the sugar amount may suffice here). To swap 1 teaspoon of baking powder:
- Add 1/4 cup molasses to the wet ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients.
Out of baking powder? You can still make this beautiful chocolate bundt cake using one of our six favorite substitutes. Because this recipe calls for baking soda, you should leave that out if you’re going to use self-rising flour, as mentioned previously.
A foundational recipe, these cookies are the perfect canvas for you to try whatever your confectionary mind can think of. Some possibilities: mixing in pretzels, oatmeal, walnuts, or any combination of the three. When you’re in the mood for a salty-sweet combo but are all out of baking powder, simply swap in one of the substitutes.
These savory spinach variation definitely proves that crepes don’t need to be sweet. Delicious on their own and even better wrapped around your favorite turkey sandwich accouterments, we love how delicious, simple, and baking-powder-substitutable these spinach crepe wraps are.
Buttermilk biscuits are the real test for our baking powder substitutes, since this recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of baking powder. It’s the key ingredient to fluffy, flaky biscuits that burst with clouds of warmth as you peel apart the buttery layers.