Baking Soda vs Baking Powder: A Complete Guide

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Last Updated on January 14, 2023

Baking soda vs baking powder, which do you prefer when it comes to baking? When learning to bake, it is important to understand that there is a big difference between baking soda and baking powder. Baking soda and baking powder are key ingredients in many recipes. But, they play different roles in the baking process.

The main similarity between these two is that both baking soda and baking powder are staples in baker’s pantries. And, often necessary for many dessert recipes. 

It’s why we’ve made this article to help you understand the difference between baking soda and baking powder, and when they are used.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder: What is Soda?

Baking soda, better known as sodium bicarbonate, is commonly used in baking. Also, it is used for cleaning and deodorizing smells. It’s a leavening agent, which means it allows for doughs and batters to rise. 

The reaction of this rising occurs when the baking soda is mixed with an acidic ingredient and moisture. The combination of these ingredients in heat produces bubbles from carbon dioxide, which causes the rising to ensue.

If a recipe calls for baking soda, you mustn’t mistakenly omit it from the recipe. Because leaving baking soda out of it will cause your baked goods to fall flat.

Using Baking Soda in Recipes

Not only is baking soda used in many dessert dishes, but most recipes for cookies, bread, and cakes also call for baking soda. 

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder: What is Soda?

Baking soda allows for dishes to become fluffy in texture. If you forget to add baking soda to a dish, your food will likely turn out flat and hard. 

In addition, many desserts call for both baking soda and baking powder. This will help in achieving the right consistency. Most desserts that call for baking soda often need an acidic counterpart. These are lemon juice, brown sugar, molasses, or yogurt.

Other Uses of Baking Soda

Having baking soda around is not only handy for baking, but for other household remedies as well. It can be used for a wide array of health benefits, such as treating heartburn. Also, for whitening teeth and as a deodorant. 

Baking soda also works great as a household cleaner such as a bathroom cleaner, fridge deodorizer, and silverware polisher.

There is a wide array of things that baking soda can be used for every day. This helpful video will show you some of the many things you can do with baking soda.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder: What is This Powder?

Baking powder contains baking soda, as well as the cream of tartar, and a drying agent such as starch. Most baking powders include two acids. Monocalcium phosphate is one of the acids found in baking powder. It helps in preventing any form of reaction until it is mixed into a wet batter. Once it comes in contact with the wet batter, it begins a chemical leavening. 

To further the chemical leavening, baking powder also contains a second acid known as sodium acid pyrophosphate (or sodium aluminum phosphate). The unique thing about these acids is that they don’t react with the baking soda until they are either hot or wet.

This means that sodium acid pyrophosphate and sodium aluminum phosphate won’t interact with baking powder until it is in the oven.

This process is what is often referred to as double-acting baking powder and is the most common form of baking powder. Most times, when a recipe calls for baking powder it always refers to the double-acting type.

Using Baking Powder in Recipes

Many recipes that call for baking powder also require baking soda. Given that baking powder is often used in dishes such as waffles, pancakes, and cakes, it is used to lighten the texture and increase the volume of baked goods.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder: What is this Powder?


If you are in the middle of making a recipe and just realized that you don’t have baking powder, there is certainly no need to panic. 

This is because you can get one teaspoon of baking powder by combining half a teaspoon of baking soda and a quarter teaspoon of tartar cream. If you don’t have tartar cream, you can also use lemon juice or white vinegar.

The truth is, tartar cream and baking soda are your best bet to replace baking powder because lemon juice and white vinegar might slightly alter the taste of the recipe.

To understand how baking powder and baking soda interact, why they are important and what the substitute for baking powder is, you can check out this informative video.

Using Buttermilk as a Substitute

You may also use half a cup of buttermilk and one-fourth teaspoon of baking soda. If you follow this method, reduce all other liquids in the recipe by half a cup.

Understanding the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder

Even if you bake regularly, it can be confusing to understand the difference between baking soda and baking powder. It can also get difficult to understand why some recipes only call for baking soda or baking powder, or both of them.

Be that as it may, baking soda is only one ingredient- sodium bicarbonate. This causes the dough to rise and creates a leavening when it is heated. This is commonly used in recipes with acidic ingredients such as brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt, or molasses.

On the other hand, baking powder contains baking soda, cornstarch, and tartar cream. In double-acting baking powder, the leavening occurs when it gets wet and then again when it gets hot, unlike baking soda.

When the acidic ingredients in a recipe don’t produce enough carbon monoxide from the baking soda, that is when baking powder is needed as well. Having baking powder and baking soda in a recipe gives it the right amount of lift to receive the proper texture and density.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder in Banana Bread

When it comes to banana bread. you can either use baking powder or baking soda. If you’re looking for an ingredient to make your banana bread rise, both baking products will help to achieve this. Nowadays, baking powder is the most common choice to opt for with banana bread, but you can use it either. If you use baking soda, you must add an acidic ingredient, which baking powder will already have added. Whichever you use will make little difference to the result of your banana bread; it will no doubt be delicious!

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder in Muffins

When it comes to muffins, you may want to think more about whether you use baking powder or baking soda. Usually, baking soda is used for muffins. However, baking soda can taste quite bitter, so a sweeter acidic ingredient should be added. While the baking powder is usually used for baked goods like bread and cakes; the two are interchangeable in most cases. Some recipes even call for the use of both baking soda and baking powder. It’s best to use whichever ingredient the recipe you’re following calls for. This will ensure that you get the best results.

Banana Bread Recipe With Baking Powder

If you’re looking to make banana bread using baking powder, instead of baking soda – it’s super easy to do! To make this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ripe mashed bananas
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Now all you need to do is:

  1. Grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. You’ll also need to preheat your oven to 325F.
  3. Next, you’ll need to grab a bowl and add both the sugar and butter.
  4. Cream the mixture together until it becomes fluffy.
  5. Now add your eggs individually.
  6. Only add the next egg once the previous egg has been completely combined.
  7. Add the banana and milk to the mixture and stir.
  8. Leave to one side.
  9. In a separate bowl, add the baking powder, baking soda, all-purpose flour, salt, and cinnamon.
  10. Mix the dry ingredients and then add them to the bowl of wet ingredients.
  11. Mix until just combined.
  12. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and place it in the center of your oven.
  13. Bake for around one hour (it may need slightly longer).
  14. To check whether it’s ready, place a toothpick or skewer into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean, your bread is ready!
  15. Leave to cool before removing the bread.
  16. Enjoy!

The density of Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

The density of baking soda is around 2.2g per cubic centimeter. Baking soda is usually much denser than baking powder. For this reason, you will not need as much baking powder, in comparison. If you use too much baking soda, the mixture will not only become bitter tasting but may even taste metallic.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder Texture

The texture and appearance of baking powder and baking soda are very similar. It can be quite difficult to tell the difference between the two from appearance alone. In texture, baking soda is a smoother white powder, whereas baking powder is usually slightly grainier.

Using Baking Powder and Baking Soda

If you plan on baking regularly, whether you’re an expert or beginner in baking, it is best to have both baking powder and baking soda in your pantry. Many recipes will call for baking powder and baking soda.

To see the difference between baking soda and baking powder and help get a better understanding of them, you can check out this video.

If you have any questions regarding baking soda or baking powder, please leave a comment!

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