Baking Powder Vs Baking Soda In Baking

Both baking powder and baking soda are leavening powder, which are agents used in baking baked goods. By introducing gas bubbles, a leavening ingredient aids in the rising of baked goods like bread and cake. 

They may have a similar sound and appearance, but they operate in different ways. They cannot be switched out. They are frequently mistaken for one another because of their similar labels and appearances by both seasoned and novice bakers. 

The distinctions among baking powder and baking soda are discussed in this article along with potential consequences for your baked goods, so that you can correctly identify which leavening agent to use in your baking.

What Is Baking Soda?

Cupcakes, muffins, and cookies are baked foods that contain baking soda as a leavening agent. It is a white, crystalline compound that is naturally basic or alkaline and is officially known as sodium bicarbonate.

When mixed with an acidic component and a liquid, baking soda is activated. Activation results in the production of carbon dioxide, which causes baked items to rise and then become airy and fluffy.

This is the reason why recipes that call for baking soda also specify an acidic component, like buttermilk or lemon juice.

In summary, baking soda, also referred to scientifically as sodium bicarbonate is a substance that aids in leavening or rising in baked goods when it is triggered by a fluid and an acid.

What Is Baking Powder?

Baking powder is different to baking soda – which only includes the base (sodium bicarbonate). Baking powder is a full leavening ingredient, which means it also contains the acid (glycerin) required for the baked goods to rise.

Baking powder generally contains cornstarch as well as sodium bicarbonate. It is included as a buffering tool to stop the base and acid from reacting while being stored.

The acids in baking powder combine with the sodium bicarbonate and then releases carbon dioxide when coupled with a liquid, much like when baking soda reacts with liquid and an acidic substance.

Although single-acting baking powders can be found, they are typically only utilised by food makers and are not typically offered for household use. Both the single-acting and double acting baking powder are available.

This indicates that the powder produces two distinct reactions: the first when mixed with liquid at ambient temperature, and the second when heated. A prolonged reaction is preferable for many recipes, so the leavening or rising doesn’t occur immediately.

In summary, baking powder comprises sodium bicarbonate as well as an acidic component, making it a complete leavening agent. Both single-acting and double-acting powder forms are available, while double-acting types are more frequently used.

Baking Powder Vs Baking Soda In Baking

Baking soda should be used if a recipe calls for an acidic ingredient, like buttermilk or juice. In contrast, baking powder is frequently used in recipes without any acidic ingredients because it already contains the acid necessary to make carbon dioxide.

The level of acidity in baked goods combinations can vary significantly. You must get the ideal balance of acid and base to produce a tasty baked item. Both baking powder and baking soda may be required in some recipes.

Usually, this occurs because the recipe calls for an acidic ingredient that the baking soda must balance but which may not be sufficient to fully leaven the final result.

Replacements In Recipes

Baking Powder Vs Baking Soda In Baking

You can substitute baking powder for baking soda if necessary. You will have to swap out baking soda’s acidic ingredient to substitute baking soda. Baking soda and acid combine to release carbon dioxide gas, simulating the effects of baking powder.

Although baking powder or baking soda can be substituted for one another in recipes, it is not always as simple as doing so. Although it isn’t generally advised, you might be able to get away with using baking powder instead of baking soda in a pinch.

Baking powder can be substituted for baking soda without any additional components. But baking soda is a lot more powerful than baking powder. As a result, you probably need more than double the powder than soda to achieve the same increasing effect.

Additionally, this substitute could give your finished product an unpleasant or chemical taste. You might be able to replace baking soda in place of baking powder if all you have available is baking soda, but you will need to use other ingredients.

You must make sure to include an acid component, like cream of tartar, so that you can stimulate the baking soda because it lacks the acidity that baking powder might typically contribute to the recipe.

Additionally, compared to baking powder, baking soda has a far greater ability to leaven food. As a general rule, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp of baking soda are comparable.

Although a 1:1 substitution for baking powder or baking soda in a recipe isn’t always possible, you can still get away with it if you make a few adjustments.

How Long Can You Keep Baking Soda And Baking Powder?

A container of baking soda can be kept at ambient temperature for 18 months without being opened, as per the Department of Agriculture. Baking powder can be kept unopened for six months at room temperature. It should only be stored for three months after opening.

Final Thoughts

Baking soda and baking powder is frequently used as a leavening ingredient in baked goods recipes. Some might even combine the two. Despite having a similar appearance, the two goods are not the same.

Baking soda is also referred to as sodium bicarbonate, and in order for it to be activated and aid in the raising of baked goods, it needs both an acidic ingredient and a liquid.

In contrast, baking powder also contains an acid ingredient and sodium bicarbonate. To activate it, only a liquid is required. With careful adjustments, it is possible to swap one for the other.

Picture of Kathryn Sewell

Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

About the Author