Comparing Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

Comparing Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

Last Updated on November 28, 2021 by Zara R.

Baking soda vs baking powder, which do you prefer? 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?
Comparing Baking Soda vs Baking Pow...
Comparing Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

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, it is important that you don’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 in 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 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 a cream of tartar and a drying agent such as a starch. In fact, 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 (sodium aluminum phosphate). The unique thing about these acids is that they don’t mix 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 a tartar cream, you can also use lemon juice or white vinegar.

The truth is, tartar cream and baking soda is 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 for both of them.

Be that as it may, baking soda is only one ingredient- sodium bicarbonate. This causes doughs to rise, 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.

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. There are many recipes that 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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