Healthy Substitutes

5 Substitutes for Baking Soda When You’re In a Pinch

By Evelyn

Baking soda is a commonly used ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes. It’s incredibly versatile in that it can be incorporated in just about anything without affecting the flavor profile of the finished product, and it plays a key part in helping your baked goods rise thanks to the gas bubbles it helps create. In case you find yourself in need of some baking soda but don’t have any on hand, don’t worry because there are some baking soda substitutes you can try to help you achieve a similar effect.

Baking Soda Substitute

Here are 5 great substitutes for baking soda.

1. Baking Powder

Baking powder and baking soda are both leavening agents made from a chemical known as sodium bicarbonate. When sodium bicarbonate is mixed with an acid, you get baking powder. Baking powder produces a gas that helps lift cookies, muffins, breads, cakes, and other baked goods, and that’s what gives it that height and volume.

Can I Use Baking Powder Instead of Baking Soda?

Yes, definitely! Baking powder is one of the most popular substitutes for baking soda because they share a common component. Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate, while baking powder is a combination of sodium bicarbonate and an acid like cream of tartar. Since baking powder already contains an acid, baking powder would be the perfect baking soda substitute in recipes that require an acidic ingredient to be added.

Baking powder does contain a few vitamins and minerals such as calcium (339 mg per teaspoon), potassium (495 mg per teaspoon), and phosphorus (456 mg per teaspoon). Both calcium and phosphorus help maintain healthy bones, nails, and teeth. In large doses, however, baking powder may cause hypokalemia due to its high potassium content.

Best for: cooking, baking, soups, gravies, sauces, pancakes, muffins, cakes, mug cakes

How to Substitute Baking Powder for Baking Soda?

Substitute 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 3 teaspoons of baking powder in a 1:3 ratio.

Keep in mind that baking powder contains cream of tartar, so it already contains an acid that will activate the sodium bicarbonate. In recipes that list baking soda and an acid separately, you may need to slightly reduce the acid content to account for the cream of tartar that’s already in the baking powder.

2. Potassium Bicarbonate

Potassium bicarbonate is a good baking soda substitute for those who are looking to limit their sodium intake. It works just as well in place of baking soda in case you’re looking for a more potassium-rich alternative due to dietary restrictions.

Can I Use Potassium Bicarbonate Instead of Baking Soda?

Potassium bicarbonate is considered to be one of the best substitutes for baking soda in baking and cooking. This is due to the fact that potassium bicarbonate has similar leavening capabilities as baking soda, but with potassium instead of sodium. Like sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate also releases carbon dioxide bubbles to create a lighter, fluffier finished baking product.

Potassium bicarbonate is an alkaline mineral available as a supplement. A diet rich in potassium is beneficial for cardiovascular health, strong bones, and muscle function. Some individuals may have a hard time sourcing enough potassium from whole foods, which is why they opt for supplementation instead. It’s important to be cautious with potassium bicarbonate, as excessive doses may also have negative effects on kidney health and pregnancy. .

Best for: cooking, baking, soups, gravies, sauces, pancakes, muffins, cakes, mug cakes

How to Substitute Potassium Bicarbonate for Baking Soda?

Substitute 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of potassium bicarbonate and salt in a 1:1 ratio.

Add a pinch of salt to your recipe to account for the lack of sodium from the baking soda. Potassium bicarbonate will not change the flavor of your recipe, so if it is dependent on the mild saltiness of the baking soda, you may have to make a minor adjustment. The exact amount of salt needed would depend on the specific recipe and will likely need a bit of experimentation to get it just right.

3. Ammonium Carbonate

Ammonium carbonate, also known as ‘Baker’s Ammonia,’ is another potential baking soda substitute. It’s an older substitute and has since been replaced by baking powder and baking soda. It is still occasionally used today due to its unique properties, particularly for making crunchier food items.

Can I Use Ammonium Carbonate Instead of Baking Soda?

Yes, it works great for certain recipes. It’s known for adding a hint of crispness to baked goods such as cookies, crisps, or crackers. It’s not as good as the other baking soda substitutes for recipes that require a lot of rising, such as bread or cakes, but it definitely still has its purposes.

Ammonium citrate is a good source of iron and folic acid, which are necessary for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body as well as the healthy production of red blood cells.

Best for: crisps, biscuits, cookies, crackers, baked goods that require less rising

How to Substitute Ammonium Carbonate for Baking Soda?

Substitute 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of ammonium bicarbonate in a 1:1 ratio.

Avoid using ammonium carbonate in baked goods that have a thick, dense crumb or topping because it could trap the ammonia inside, resulting in an unpleasant odor being released once the baked good is sliced or cut open.

4. Self-Rising Flour

Self-rising flour is a convenient baking soda substitute because it already contains the necessary components for a wide range of recipes. It may require a bit more adjustments when used as a baking soda substitute, but there’s no doubt that it’s still a viable option.

Can I Use Self-Rising Flour Instead of Baking Soda?

Yes, you can. Self-rising flour contains all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. The combination of these three ingredients is useful for a wide range of recipes, but it still requires quite a bit of tweaking, as some recipes would require more salt for example, or perhaps a bit more baking powder. Rebalancing your recipe could prove to be tricky in some instances.

As a baking soda substitute, it’s important to note that the acid in the baking powder component in self-rising flour would already serve to activate the baking soda, so you will need to reduce the other acidic ingredients in your recipe.

Self-rising flour isn’t necessarily the healthiest flour option in terms of nutrients, since it is highly processed and thus, stripped of most of its vitamins and minerals. It does however contain some potassium due to the baking powder as well as sodium from the salt. At small doses and if consumed within the recommended guidelines, potassium and sodium are key components to overall health.

Best for: cooking, baking, soups, gravies, sauces, pancakes, muffins, cakes, mug cakes

How to Substitute Self-Rising Flour for Baking Soda?

Substitute 1 teaspoon of baking soda with ½ cup of self-rising flour in a 1:1 ratio.

Since 1 cup of self-rising flour contains 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt, using it as a baking soda substitute would entail adjusting 3 ingredients in your recipe. You would need to reduce the all-purpose flour and salt in order to make this substitute work.

It may take some trial and error to get the balance of ingredients just right since there are a few components involved.

5. Whipped Egg Whites

Although egg whites may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to finding a baking soda substitute, it may work in certain recipes since egg whites do have some leavening power once they are whipped into stiff peaks.

Can I Use Whipped Egg Whites Instead of Baking Soda?

Yes, in certain recipes. If you whip egg whites long enough with a whisk or mixer, it will start to form stiff peaks. When folded gently into a batter, it helps add airiness and fluffiness to the mixture in a similar manner to baking soda. Whipped egg whites also add structure to the batter, which can help your baked goods rise.

Egg whites are loaded with protein that help your body repair and regenerate cells. High-protein foods such as egg whites are also incredibly satiating and can help with weight management by helping to reduce hunger. In addition, eggs have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and antihypertensive effects, making it one of the healthiest baking soda substitutions on this list.

Best for: baking, pancakes, muffins, cakes, mug cakes

How to Substitute Whipped Egg Whites for Baking Soda?

Substitute 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 whipped egg whites in a 1:1 ratio.

You will need to reduce your liquids by about 1 teaspoon to account for the addition of the whipped egg whites. Make sure the egg whites resemble stiff peaks to ensure that they contain the proper amount of air and can provide structure to your recipes in a similar manner to baking soda.


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