Baking soda tends to be a staple in everyone’s pantry, whether to bake or to absorb moisture in your refrigerator, you probably have some around.
However, there are times when we all want to bake something and can’t find baking soda anywhere, but there are some ingredients that can replace it without any trouble.
If you are scrambling to find baking soda for your favorite banana bread, or even maybe for a healthy oat bran muffin, you shouldn’t worry about the grocery store being closed.
Instead of changing your plans, and for future reference, you can use some alternative ingredients that you may already have in your cupboards and don’t even realize.
What Is Baking Soda?
Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is used as a leavening agent in baking, including cakes, pancakes, cookies, and bread.
As its name suggests, this ingredient is very alkaline, but when it is combined with an acidic agent, such as lemon juice or cream of tartar it creates carbon dioxide, allowing the baked good to expand and rise.
It is important to have a rising agent in your baking process, but baking soda has lately become a natural ingredient to include in your cleaning routine, particularly because it is an absorbing agent that will keep areas dry.
What Can You Replace Baking Soda With?
These are the best baking soda substitutes:
#1. Baking Powder
You might be asking yourself “can I use baking powder instead of baking soda?”. The answer is absolutely!
Also used as a leavening agent in baking, this choice is not an alkaline powder, but rather a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar or another acidic ingredient.
Once exposed to heat and liquid it creates CO2 gas and begins to expand. Because it can act on its own, baking powder is a great replacement for baking soda, but you’ll need to add more of it for the same effect, as it tends to be less strong.
We recommend you double the amount that the recipe calls for, but always make sure you measure accordingly as too little or too much can disrupt the baking process. You can find baking powder in every grocery store in the baking section.
#2. Potassium Bicarbonate + Salt
Potassium bicarbonate isn’t always around, but if you are into dietary supplements then you must have some. Otherwise, you can find it at pharmacies or organic supermarkets.
Often, this option is used as a low sodium replacement for those who shouldn’t have any salt, so it can alter the taste of your product, but you can still use it with the same amount the recipe called for.
If you are worried about the lack of salt, consider adding ¼ teaspoon for every teaspoon you use of potassium bicarbonate.
#3. Self-Rising Flour
Even though it may not be available for every recipe, you can buy self-rising flour at your local grocery store or specialty store and save yourself the trouble of even needing a leavening agent. This flour self rises because it already contains baking soda and salt in it, so you won’t have to worry about adding an acidic ingredient or anything else.
Self-rising flour is popular for quick baking projects, which can include quick bread, muffins, and some cakes. Be sure to keep in mind that this flour can change the texture and baking time, so you will need to adjust for this if you decide to go with it.
#4. Baker’s Ammonia
Also called ammonium bicarbonate, this choice is not always common for everyone, but if you’re an avid baker then you must have heard of it. Baker’s ammonia was the traditional leavening agent in old times, but recently it’s become somewhat obscure.
The reason for not using it often is that when it is heated and mixed with liquid, it produces carbon dioxide and ammonia, which can be a strange flavor in baked goods and can be toxic at high levels.
You can replace baking soda for the same amount of baker’s ammonia, and you can usually find this product in the baking section of the grocery store or bakers specialty store.
We recommend you use it in lighter, softer products, like some cakes or cupcakes, but not in crumbly products like muffins or thick bread.
#5. Egg Whites
When all the other options are impossible to use or find, you can go with something easier but less predictable.
Whipped egg whites are often introduced slowly to the dough of baked goods to enhance the rising process, so if you have eggs at home, you could try this method. Consider though, that the amount of eggs is up to you and that it could be a trial and error process at first.
For better results, you can add cream to the whipped egg whites and dough mix, but make sure to incorporate air as you do it because this is the process that allows for gases to form and the dough to expand.
How To Choose The Right One
It is hard to decide which product makes more sense instead of baking soda, but consider all the factors that could be affected. Is your product soft or crumbly? Do you already have to add citrus to the recipe, such as lime or lemon juice? Does your recipe call for eggs and milk already?
After all these questions, all you should consider is the ease of use and amounts, and of course the flavor. Make sure you measure and adjust accordingly, perhaps trying as you go.
Yes, you can omit baking soda, but as long as you use another leavening agent instead. If no rising occurs, your product will look flat and undercooked. Try one of these options instead of baking soda when you bake.
Not necessarily, as cornstarch is a thickening agent and not a leavening agent. It is used to thicken stews, soups, or sauces, and it requires lots of liquid. Baking soda is a leavening agent used in baking, so the purpose is completely different.
Vinegar is not a leavening agent, but when mixed with baking soda, you can expect your baked goods to expand well and rise.
You can still bake your favorite recipe even if you don’t have any baking soda, but make sure you use another rising agent that will help your dough expand. These substitutes are all easy to use, but some may be easier to find, just make sure you replace them accordingly.
*Photo by mirzamlk/depositphotos