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Baking Soda Substitutes

Out of baking soda? Looking for the best baking soda substitutes? Check out our top picks, and never let a missing ingredient stop you from baking again!

Baking soda is a chemical leavener, specifically sodium bicarbonate. It is used to leaven doughs and batters. Baking soda does this by reacting with an acid to create carbon dioxide gas that causes baked goods to rise, resulting in a lighter, airier texture. Although a pantry staple, there are alternatives if you run out and don’t notice until you’re in the middle of that recipe you’ve wanted to try for weeks (been there, done that). This article explores some of the best baking soda substitutes as well as when and how to use them.

Best Baking Soda Substitutes

Baking Powder

Baking powder is a popular substitute for baking soda because it is simply baking soda with an acid, so it’s ready to use, unlike actual baking soda, which needs an acidic ingredient to create that gas. Sprinkle some into warm water and watch it fizz if you want to see it in action. It impacts batters and doughs similarly; however, you will notice that baked goods that include baking powder instead of soda tend to be a bit fluffier. This is more noticeable in items like cookies, which tend to come out thicker and cakier, as well as quick breads. They have less of a hearty, dense texture.

When to Use It: Use baking powder in any recipe that requires baking soda and an acid, such as lemon juice, buttermilk, brown sugar, or molasses.

How to Substitute: For each teaspoon of baking soda, use 3 teaspoons of baking powder. If the recipe initially called for baking soda and powder, use the amount of baking powder the recipe calls for, then replace the soda with 3X the amount of powder. For metric measurement, go with 3X the weight of baking soda the recipe initially called for.

Egg Whites

Egg whites, specifically whipped egg whites, cause baked goods to expand and rise, much like baking soda, when air is beaten into them. They do this by trapping air bubbles, which expand when exposed to heat, resulting in a lighter, airier texture.

When to Use It: Simple baked goods are best; ones that don’t rely heavily on chemical reactions. The usual muffins, cookies, cakes, and cupcakes are the way to go.

How to Substitute: Stick with 1 egg white for every ½ teaspoon of baking soda a recipe calls for. Once this is done, you have to measure the whipped egg whites by weight or volume depending on what the other ingredients in the recipe are based on. The reason is that in addition to leavening, egg whites add moisture, so you want to measure (again in weight or volume) the unbeaten egg white and then subtract that amount from any liquid (e.g., water or milk) a recipe calls for. Afterward, whip the white(s) until you have stiff peaks, then fold the beaten whites into the dough or batter.

Club Soda

Club soda is simply water injected with carbon dioxide gas and contains sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium chloride, sodium citrate, etc. Like the carbon dioxide from baking soda, the carbon dioxide in club soda will leaven baked goods.

When to Use It: Club soda works best in recipes that require a fair amount of liquid. Anything over 4 ounces (½ cup) is ideal because, in addition to acting as a leavener, it will also replace a fair amount of liquid a recipe calls for.

How to Substitute: Since this replacement involves swapping a dry leavener for a liquid, there isn’t a specific replacement ratio. Instead, replace 2 ounces (¼ cup) of liquid a recipe calls for with 2 ounces of club soda. Although this is common practice, have your oven preheated and ready to go before adding the club soda so you can incorporate it and get the food into the oven as soon as possible. You don’t want to give the bubbles time to pop.

Self-Rising Flour

Self-rising flour contains baking powder (specifically 1 ½ teaspoons per cup) and some salt, so it is already leavened and ready to go, thus eliminating the need for additional leavening. Although a relatively simple swap, you’ll need to do some math to ensure the baking powder comes to 3X the amount of baking soda the recipe initially called for.

When to Use It: Use this substitute in any baking recipe that calls for flour.

How to Substitute: First, replace all the flour a recipe calls for with all-purpose flour. Next, calculate how much baking powder was added, considering every cup of self-rising flour contains 1 ½ teaspoons. For example, if you replaced 3 cups of all-purpose flour with self-rising flour, that means 4 ½ teaspoons of baking powder was added. Once you have that number, confirm how much baking soda a recipe calls for and ensure the total is 3 times that amount, adding more baking powder if needed.

Potassium Bicarbonate

If you don’t have baking soda, the chance of having sodium bicarbonate is slim; however, if you take it as a supplement, you may be in luck. The dietary supplement is one of the best substitutes for baking soda because it has the same leavening capabilities. The only difference is that potassium bicarbonate doesn’t contain salt.

When to Use It: Use potassium bicarbonate in any recipe that calls for baking soda—cookies, cakes, no yeast bread recipes, etc.

How to Substitute: The replacement ratio is 1:1. The only change you’ll need to make to the recipe is adding extra salt. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt for every teaspoon of potassium bicarbonate.

Overall, baking soda is an essential ingredient in many baked goods, but there are several substitutes you can use if you run out. Baking powder, egg whites, club soda, self-rising flour, and potassium bicarbonate are excellent substitutes for baking soda, depending on the recipe. Consider what you’re baking, select the best substitute, and proceed accordingly. Happy baking!

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Monique McArthur
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