How-To & Diy

The 6 Best Baking Powder Substitutes

Because no—baking soda is not the same thing.

March 14, 2023
Photo by Rocky Luten

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.

The Best Baking Powder Substitutes

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.

5. Buttermilk

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.

6. Molasses

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.

Try These Baking Powder Substitutes on For Size

Chocolate Bundt Cake

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.

Basic, Great Chocolate Chip Cookies From Tara O’Brady

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.

Turkey Roll-Ups With Homemade Spinach Wraps

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.

JoJo’s Biscuits

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.

What’s your favorite baking powder substitute? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • judy
  • /anne...
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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.


judy March 24, 2023
I have been substituting vinegar and extra baking soda in recipes with good success. I recently figured out that I am intolerant to baking powder and flower baked together. I have yet to try biscuits. They are on my list. This was a good list of baking powder alternatives other than vinegar. I ahve also tried yogurt withs some good success.
/anne... August 30, 2021
If you're using an Australian recipe, don't substitute Self Raising Flour for Plain Flour + baking powder. Baking powder is only specified in a recipe when the amount of baking powder needed is not the same as you would get using Self Raising Flour.
Smaug May 6, 2020
By my count, we have one baking powder substitute, a couple of cream of tartar substitutes (you could also use citric acid, lactic acid, something high in lactic acid such as yoghurt or sour milk, or other sources of acid), and one product containing baking powder (there's also Bisquick and probably others). There are some other dry leaveners used in commercial baking that work similarly to baking powder, but unavailable to consumers (probably with good reason) and thus not well known to me.
adrian March 15, 2023
And the ratios are wrong. If you add 1/2 tsp vinegar to 1/4 tsp baking powder it will foam (wasting its air immediately) but that's nowhere near enough acid to react the specified amount of baking soda. In my tests, it takes about 4 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar to completely react 1/4 tsp of baking soda. And you need to add the acid to the recipe, not to the baking soda!

A real substitute for baking powder is ammonium carbonate, which is drying and makes things crunchy, but is only OK in thin baked goods so the unpleasant smell can escape.