Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a fine white powder, and a common fixture in the world of baking. Baking soda works its magic when, as an alkaline, it’s blended with an acidic ingredient such as brown sugar, molasses, yogurt or buttermilk and moisture. The combination results in carbon dioxide bubbles, and allows cakes muffins, biscuits and cookies to rise and change texture.
But if you don’t have or have run out of baking soda, is there a replacement you you can use?
There is no direct substitute for baking soda, and in fact, there is no recommended replacement if your baking soda supply runs out. Because baking soda is made up of baking soda mixed with other ingredients, there’s no straight formula to convert it into pure soda. Therefore, it’s better to run to your nearest supermarket than experiment in your oven and expect a miracle to happen.
Even though they look pretty similar, baking soda and baking powder are two different ingredients, and if you just make a one-for-one substitution—like using one teaspoon of baking powder in place of a teaspoon of baking soda, your baked product will yield undesirable results.
To substitute baking powder for baking soda, simply use three times the amount of baking powder as you would baking soda. This counteracts the addition of the dry acid and creates the right chemical reaction in your batter or dough. So if a recipe calls for a teaspoon of baking soda, use three teaspoons of baking powder instead.
To measure baking soda properly, dip the measuring spoon into the container and scoop out more than you need. Level off what’s in the spoon with the spine of a table knife or another flat edge.
If there is an acidic liquid ingredient such as buttermilk, yogurt, or molasses, replace it with plain milk or even water.
If vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic ingredient is part of the ingredients to make a buttermilk substitute, omit the ingredient and just use plain milk.
One tip to think about: Always mix baking soda with a recipe’s other dry ingredients before adding any liquid; it will start transforming as soon as it gets wet.