One of the key reasons to use baking soda when cooking is to get the chemical reaction that causes dough to rise or spread. If you’ve ever made a cookie recipe that resulted in flat hard cookies, you likely forgot to add the baking soda to the mix. Baking soda works with other ingredients to neutralize the acid and enhance airiness. Think back to those volcanoes you made for the science fair.
The mixture that caused the lava to bubble up and overflow was likely sodium bicarbonate or baking soda and perhaps vinegar. Baking soda reacts in a similar way with other ingredients when you use it for cooking and the bubbles cause the dough to rise. Make sure you always look for “aluminum free” baking soda. But if you are in the midst of cooking a recipe that calls for baking soda and you don’t have any on hand, there are several baking soda substitutes you can choose instead.
Baking Substitutes for Cooking and Baking
- Double-acting Baking Powder
- Potassium Bicarbonate
- Baking Powder
- Active-Dry Yeast
- Whipped Egg Whites
- DIY Baking Powder
#1 Double-acting Baking Powder
In cookies, a double-acting baking powder is a great substitute for many recipes as it has enough power to give proper rise to your cookie dough. Replace a half tsp of baking soda with 1 ½ to 2 tsp. baking powder for best results.
#2 Potassium Bicarbonate
Another alternative to baking soda that works well in cookies, is potassium bicarbonate. It’s not as easy to find but if you have it on hand, replace each teaspoon of baking soda with an equal amount of potassium bicarbonate and if desired a ⅓ teaspoon salt. It’s a great substitute for those on a low-salt diet or at risk of heart or circulation problems.
#3 Baking Powder
Cake and muffin recipes need the acid-base in baking soda in order to rise properly and have that light, fluffy crumb. If you need a baking soda substitute for your cake or muffin recipe goes with baking powder at four times the amount of baking soda given in the original recipe. Baking powder also makes a great substitute for pancakes, biscuits, banana bread, cornbread or just about any recipe that uses baking soda.
#4 Active-Dry Yeast
If you’re looking for an all-natural way to get a rise in your bread recipe, go for active-dry yeast as a baking soda substitute. Not only is it all natural rather than a chemical compound, it contains some important vitamins and nutrients that certainly can’t hurt your diet. Yeast has the added benefit of being gluten-free. Add the same amount of yeast as the baking soda called for in the original recipe.
#5 Whipped Egg Whites
You can also try adding some beer to your batter or a little bit of club soda as it may have just enough carbonation to give that airiness to your recipe. Many professional chefs prefer to use whipped egg whites as a leavening agent and baking soda substitute to add airiness to meringues and soufflés.
#6 DIY Baking Powder
If you’re down to that last bit of baking soda in the box and just don’t have the amount called for in the original recipe, you can mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, with ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, and ¼ teaspoon of cornstarch. This mixture is essentially a DIY baking powder which you can then substitute for the baking soda in your recipe.
Keep in mind that when you remove the baking soda and replace with baking powder or potassium bicarbonate, you’ll need to swap out the acidic liquid to make things work properly. Replace buttermilk or sour cream with whole milk. Replace lemon juice or lime juice with water that has just a teaspoon or two of lime or lemon rind if the citrus flavor is crucial.
Find Baking Soda Around the World
In Australia, self-rising flour in place of plain white flour is the preferred method for pancakes and other items that need a bit of rising. When baking soda is specifically called for it is called bicarbonate of soda and is found usually with the flours in the grocery store. It’s typically used for with an acid such as milk, yogurt, or cream of tartar in soda bread and denser cakes such as carrot cake, gingerbread, and fruitcakes.
In Europe, countries such as Germany, Finland, Sweden, and Norway, look for “Natron” instead of baking soda. It typically comes in little packets rather than the standard yellow baking soda box. If you’re in Britain, baking soda is called sodium “bicarbonate”. In Spain it’s “bicarbonado sodico” or more commonly “bicarbonate” and comes in a blue plastic container, slightly shorter than a pop can, with a white top.
Benefits of Baking Soda for Cleaning and Sanitation
People all over the world substitute baking soda instead of harmful chemical products for cleaning and personal hygiene. Not only does using baking soda instead of chemical cleaning products save you a ton of money, it’s better for the environment, and it’s a more natural substance to use on your body.
- Dishwasher Detergent
- Laundry Detergent
- Dry Shampoo
- Epsom Salts
- Toilet Cleaner
- Cleanser for sinks, tubs, showers
- Dry Clean Carpets
- Stain Removal
- Oven Cleaner
- Jewelry Cleaner
- Odor absorber in shoes, animal pens, and other typically “smelly” places
For Alternative Medicine
There have also been a lot of people who substitute baking soda for medicine. When aluminum free baking soda is taken internally on a regular basis, it works as a strong alkalizing agent for your biological system and can help steady the pH of your bloodstream which can actually reduce joint pain and inflammation. Back in the mid-1920’s, it was even recommended to treat influenza and colds.
- Soothe canker sore pain
- Sunburn relief
- Relieve Itchy skin due to rashes, windburn, poison ivy, and insect bites
- Draw out a bee stinger or treat a jellyfish sting
- Unblock a congested nose
- Neutralize lactic acid and lessen stiffness after physical activity
So now that you know just how handy that little yellow box of baking soda can be around the house, pick up several boxes the next time you shop. Keep our list of suggestions for baking soda substitutes on hand because once you come to rely on baking soda for all the wonderful things it can do, you may run out sooner and need to reach for a substitute.