How can I use baking powder instead of flour to bake a cake?


Kurt Olsen

Cream of Tartar + Baking Soda

This combination is much the same as producing your own baking powder at home. Cream of tartar, which is available in most baking aisles, adds acidity to baking soda, allowing baked products to rise. To make 1 tablespoon baking powder, combine 2 teaspoons cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon baking soda (if preparing a large amount, add 1 teaspoon cornstarch to avoid caking, although it’s not essential).

pouring milk into bowl with flour

Buttermilk + Baking Soda

When working with baking soda, adding an acidic ingredient is essential if you want your recipe to rise. Fortunately, buttermilk is quite acidic. To make 1 teaspoon baking powder, combine 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup buttermilk with the wet. But keep in mind, you’re adding extra liquid, so you’ll need to reduce any other liquids in the recipe to balance it out.

bowl of thick and creamy yogurt on light blue background

Yogurt + Baking Soda

Another combination that works well as a baking powder alternative is yogurt and baking soda. Make careful you use plain yogurt (not flavored). Use the same recipe for 1 teaspoon baking powder as you would for buttermilk: Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup plain yogurt to the wet, then decrease the other liquids by 1/2 cup.

clear glass milk jug, space for copy

Sour Milk + Baking Soda

If your milk has gone sour but hasn’t curdled yet, it implies it has begun to ferment and contains lactic acid, which will activate baking soda. It’s unlikely you’ll happen to have milk that’s perfectly sour (but not spoiled) when you need a baking powder substitute, but if you do, use it the same way you would use buttermilk or yogurt in combination with baking soda.

mixed race woman squeezing lemons

Lemon Juice + Baking Soda

Lemon juice has a high concentration of citric acid, making it ideal for activating baking soda as a baking powder alternative. Just be aware that lemon juice has a strong taste. Use it in recipes that only call for a tiny quantity of baking powder (or in dishes that don’t mind a lemony taste). To substitute 1 teaspoon baking powder, combine 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice with the dry ingredients.

bowl of baking soda vinegar and lemon

Vinegar + Baking Soda

Vinegar, like lemon juice, is very acidic… and it’s most likely something you already have in your pantry! White vinegar has the most neutral flavor, so it will probably go undetected in a baked good, but rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar will also work in a pinch. To replace 1 teaspoon baking powder, combine 1/2 teaspoon vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

organic black cane sugar molasses in a bowl

Molasses + Baking Soda

Molasses isn’t very acidic, but when mixed with baking soda it can have similar leavening properties as baking powder. It’s simply sugar (boiled sugar cane juice), therefore it’ll add additional sweetness to a dish. Take this into consideration and minimize part of the sugar in your recipe. Keep in mind that molasses is a liquid, so adjust the other liquids in the recipe accordingly. 1/4 cup molasses and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda may be used in lieu of 1 teaspoon baking powder.

close up of a whisk full of whipped meringues

Whipped Egg Whites

Most baking powder substitutes require the use of baking soda, but if you don’t have that on hand either, you may be able to use whipped egg whites to add a bit of volume in some recipes. Beat an egg white or two to soft fluffy peaks and gently fold into your batter (don’t overmix or the whites will deflate). This won’t work for every dish, but it’s a good substitute for pancakes or waffles.

self rising flour

Self-Rising Flour

Did you know that self-rising flour is just flour with baking powder and salt already mixed in? That means that you can swap all-purpose flour for self-rising and just omit the baking powder and salt called for in the recipe! As long as you have some in your pantry, it’s one of the simplest replacements. Look for it with the other flours in the baking aisle.

close up of carbonated water in glass on wooden table

Club Soda

What do you think? Club soda is made from water and baking soda. If you are really in a pinch and don’t have baking powder OR baking soda, use this lightly salted carbonated water in place of the milk or water in your recipe and it will provide a little extra volume. However, just use it if you need a small boost—it isn’t a miracle worker!

Related Questions

  • Can baking powder be used as a substitute for flour?

    There are self-rising flour replacements that need just one cup of all-purpose flour, one and a half teaspoons of baking powder, and one and a half teaspoons of salt. This will also work in your recipes, but after comparing other self-rising flour products on the market, our Test Kitchen prefers the substitute calling for both leaveners.

  • Can I just use baking powder for cake?

    If a recipe calls for baking soda, you may be able to use baking powder instead. However, you will need up to four times the quantity of baking powder to get the same amount of leavening. With so much baking powder, you can wind up with a bitter baked item, depending on the recipe.

  • What happens if you put baking powder in a cake?

    Baking powder is a leavening ingredient that, like baking soda and yeast, causes batter to rise. Baking powder lightens the texture of cakes by increasing the size of air bubbles in the batter. The use of baking powder correctly may be the difference between a light and fluffy cake and a chocolate brick.

  • Can I add baking powder to plain flour to make a cake?

    As a rule of thumb, to make plain flour into self-raising, add 2 tsp baking powder to 150g of plain flour. The amount of baking powder to use varies.

  • What do you do if you only have baking powder?

    If you don’t have baking soda, use three times the amount of baking powder called for in the recipe. So, instead of one teaspoon of baking soda, use three teaspoons of baking powder. Baking powder includes a trace of salt, therefore decrease the amount of salt called for in the recipe.


Leave a Comment

Contact Us

For more information or to make comments and suggestions, please contact:
Kurt Olsen
Dairy Development Coordinator, Missouri Department of Agriculture
Phone: (573) 291-5704
E-mail: [email protected]