Substitute for Baking Powder

Baking powder is one of those ingredients that I don’t think of often until I need it (unlike chocolate chips – I think about those constantly). Used as a leavening agent, baking powder is a chief ingredient in many baked goods. Fluffy pancakes, tall cakes and puffy cookies all depend on baking powder. And when it’s missing? Flat city.

So whether you’re up against dietary restrictions, allergies, or simply a barren pantry – if you run out of it, you’ll need a proper substitute for baking powder.

Substitute for baking powder - a picture of a regular baking powder container.

The Role of Baking Powder in Baking

Baking powder, a seemingly innocuous ingredient, is a chemical leavening agent crucial to creating the rise and fluffiness we covet in baked goods. It contains an acid (usually cream of tartar) and a base (commonly sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda), which react to form carbon dioxide gas when moistened and heated. This gas expands within the dough or batter, creating the light and airy texture that’s so essential in cakes, quick breads, and pastries. AKA, it’s the ingredient that should be named MVP.

A can of baking powder on the counter with a striped towel.

Common Baking Powder Substitutes

If you find yourself frantically searching your pantry for baking powder that isn’t there or baking for a friend with allergies, don’t let your baked goods fall flat – just use a baking powder substitute instead! Check them out: 

  • Cream of Tartar Combine 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part baking soda to make your own baking powder substitute. Use this in any of your baked goods without altering the taste! 
  • Buttermilk or Yogurt – These acidic dairy products can activate baking soda. Replace the liquid in your recipe with buttermilk or yogurt and use 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for every teaspoon of baking powder called for. This is great for things like pancakes and can add a pleasant tang in addition to the leavening. 
  • Self-Rising Flour – This is a combination of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. You can substitute self-rising flour for the all-purpose flour in your recipe and omit the additional baking powder and salt. If you’re trying to create something with a delicate texture, like a cake, this will be your best baking powder substitute because it will give a more even rise.

So if you run out of baking powder mid-bake, don’t throw in the towel! Give one of these baking powder substitutes a try and watch your baked goods rise to perfection.

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