Baking soda is one of those essential ingredients that is used for all sorts of baking recipes.
Even though most recipes don't call for a whole lot of baking soda, it's a crucial ingredient to help certain baked goods leaven or rise. Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate, and it's used for everything from cookies, muffins, certain types of quick bread, cakes, and so much more. If you're in the middle of a baking project and open your cupboard only to find you're out of baking soda, don't fret – there are several baking soda substitutes you can use.
One of the easiest baking soda substitutes out there (which you probably have in your cupboard) is baking powder. Like baking soda, baking powder is a common ingredient used in baking to help your baked treats and bread rise. Although their names may sound very similar, baking soda and baking powder are slightly different. Baking powder is made from baking soda and cream of tartar. Mix it with some liquid ingredients and add a little heat and baking powder releases carbon dioxide, which causes the batter or dough to rise. It's not quite as strong as baking soda, so you'll need extra baking powder in your recipes. Use three teaspoons of baking powder for every teaspoon of baking soda in your recipe.
Another great baking soda substitute that you may have at home is self-raising flour. Self-raising flour boasts a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt. Because it's premixed, you may need to make other adjustments to your recipe, such as leaving out added salt. You also won't need to add an acidic ingredient since the baking powder contained in the self-raising flour already has an acid. As an example, you can use regular (or plant-based) milk instead of buttermilk.
Bakers ammonia aka ammonium carbonate has a long history as a leavening agent. As early as the Middle Ages, it was used to leaven various baked goods. In the modern era, baker's ammonia has been replaced by baking soda and baking powder. Bakers may choose to use ammonium carbonate because it makes baked products extra crispy – so it's especially good for crackers and other similar items. It's best used for thin baked goods. In thicker, denser items, the smell of ammonia may linger, ruining the aroma and flavor of your treats.
Potassium bicarbonate is occasionally given to those with low potassium levels. It's a good baking soda substitute for anyone looking to reduce their salt intake since it's sodium-free. You can swap equal amounts of potassium bicarbonate for baking soda. For anyone who doesn't have worries about their salt levels, you can add a dash or two of salt into your recipes.
You can definitely leave baking soda out of some recipes as long as you accept that the outcome won't be as light and fluffy. This mostly works in cookie or pancake recipes. Don't completely leave out leavening agents from cakes, muffins, biscuits, and so on otherwise your baked treats will wind up hard and flat.