5 Best Substitutes For Baking Soda

We usually have a few boxes of baking soda on hand in our kitchen. There's one for household cleaning and tooth whitening, one for cooking, one for deodorizing the fridge... However, we've occasionally found ourselves in the situation where — gasp! — we reach for our trusty box only to find out that it's empty or expired. Thankfully, there are other common pantry ingredients that you can use as a substitute for baking soda in your recipes.

Baking soda is a leavening agent, which means it helps baked goods rise. If you just leave it out, you'll end up with dense, heavy breads and pancakes, which no one wants. Here's how to substitute baking soda accurately, so that even when you run out you can still make your favorite baked goods. There is more than one back-up ingredient if you are in a bind, and the best part is, you might even have some of these in your house already!

1. Baking Powder

It turns out that one of the best baking soda substitutes is also the thing you probably get it confused with the most: baking powder.

The dry acid in baking powder won't have too much of an effect on your recipe. One thing you do need to watch out for, though, is saltiness. Since there is some sodium in baking powder, you might want to omit or reduce the amount of salt called for in the recipe when you're using baking powder as a substitute for baking soda.

Before using baking powder as a baking soda substitute, it's also important to check to make sure the powder is still fresh. To do this, add a little to a bowl of water. If it froths up, that means it's still good to go and will help your baked goods rise just like baking soda would (via Simply Recipes).

You can't just sub the same amount of the ingredient, though. In order to accurately replicate the chemical reactions baking soda would have with the other ingredients in your recipe, for every 1 teaspoon of baking soda the recipe calls for, you should replace it with 3 teaspoons of baking powder.

2. Self-Rising Flour

If you are in a pinch, another substitute for baking soda is self-rising flour. While all-purpose flour contains a single ingredient (wheat), self-rising flour is a blend of all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt.

While self-rising flour makes a fantastic baking soda substitute, it does require some tricky mental math to adjust your recipe accordingly. Are you up to the challenge? According to Healthline, every cup of self-rising flour has about 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt. You will want to take this into account when ensuring that your recipe's ingredient amounts are as accurate as possible.

3. Whipped Egg Whites

Whipped egg whites make a great baking soda back-up, as they also add aeration to any recipe. The structure of whipped egg whites will add extra fluffiness, an airy texture, and increased rising in your baked goods.

To begin the replacement process, beat your egg whites until foamy — the airier the better! Using a liquid measuring cup, measure out your whites, and remove the same amount of liquid from your recipe that you add back in the form of whipped egg whites. Food scientist Renée Gan tells Today she recommends starting with two egg whites and increasing from there if necessary.

Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter. The consistency of the egg whites is important for the leavening process, so try to avoid breaking up too many air pockets. If the recipe also calls for eggs, add the yolks to the batter and then fold in the whipped whites. Ta-da!

4. Club Soda

Another go-to liquid substitute for baking soda is another type of soda: club soda. The carbon dioxide in club soda helps keep baked goods light and airy, the way we like them!

Similar to the whipped egg white replacement, swap your club soda with an equal amount of liquid required in your recipe. For example, if you include two tablespoons of club soda, remove two tablespoons of milk from your recipe. If using this method, work as quickly as possible to avoid the club soda evaporating and going flat — the fizziness of the liquid is important for this substitute. Now's the time to put your home cook abilities to the real test!

5. Whipped Cream

While whipped cream might not be the top recommendation for baking soda substitutes, it makes a good back-up ingredient for basic baking recipes — like a nice pancake breakfast! This sweet, rich cream also acts as a leavener and will add extra fluffiness to the treats you're whipping up. Try to avoid using this substitute in more complex baking recipes, like fancy cakes or pastries — The Pioneer Woman suggests it for simpler situations "where the leavener won't make or break the recipe, only change it." Want to go an extra step further and make your own whipped cream? Here's the secret to making a delicious homemade whipped cream with a simple pantry ingredient.