Baking powder has always struck me as quite magical. Typically used in tandem with basic baking soda, a teeny, tiny teaspoon of acidic baking powder can leaven an army of cookies, a trio of cake layers, or stack of pillowy tortillas alike.
But while they look similarly and often work side-by-side, baking powder and baking soda are not to be used interchangeably. Because baking soda relies on a certain amount of acid to be present to leaven a baked good, swapping baking soda for baking powder will yield a batter that’s improperly risen and overly basic (metallic-tasting). Here we’re sharing three popular baking powder substitutes, all of which are made from common pantry staples.
Make your own!
That’s right—you can make your own baking powder right at home. For every one teaspoon you need, combine 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. For a larger, storable batch combine one part baking soda with one part cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) and 2 parts cream of tartar.
Vinegar or Lemon Juice
A neutral-tasting acid, like white vinegar or lemon juice, will react with baking soda to create the leavening powers you need. To substitute one teaspoon of baking powder, combine 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or ½ teaspoon lemon juice.
Self-rising flour has—you guessed it—leavening agents added. For each cup of self-rising flour, you can expect 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to be present. Sub self-rising in for all-purpose flour 1:1, omitting any other leaveners in the recipe.
Because plain yogurt is a naturally acidic ingredient, it works well as a substitute for baking powder in most recipes. However, tread carefully with this one. You can make a DIY baking powder substitute by adding ½ cup of plain yogurt to the wet ingredients and ¼ teaspoon of baking powder to the dry ingredients, which is the equivalent of one teaspoon of baking powder. If you use this method, you should reduce the other liquids in the recipe by ½ cup total.
Out of baking powder? You can still make this beautiful Bundt cake using one of our three favorite substitutes. Because this recipe calls for baking soda, you should leave that out if you’re going to use self-rising flour, as mentioned previously.
These cookies have a little bit of everything—granola, salted pretzels, chocolate chips, and pecans. When you’re craving the salty-sweet combination but are all out of baking powder, simply swap in one of our aforementioned substitutes.
If you don’t have baking powder on hand, substitute your own DIY mixture using a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar for these rich cookies.
Buttermilk biscuits are the real test for our baking powder substitutes, since this recipe calls for two tablespoons of baking powder. It’s the key ingredient to fluffy, flaky biscuits that burst with clouds of warmth as you peel apart the buttery layers.
Coral Lee is an Associate Editor at Food52. Before this, she cooked food solely for photos. Before that, she cooked food solely for customers. And before that, she shot lasers at frescoes in Herculaneum and taught yoga.
When she’s not writing about or making food, she’s thinking about it. Her Heritage Radio Network show, “Meant to be Eaten,” explores cross-cultural exchange as afforded by food. You can follow her on Instagram @meanttobeeaten.