Baking Powder vs. Soda
If you ever wonder what is the difference between baking powder and baking soda, and if you can substitute one for the other, I’ll answer these questions here. Baking powder and baking soda are both leaveners, meaning they are both ingredients that will make your baked goods rise. But they are not the same thing. Let’s get sciency – baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) is naturally alkaline or basic. When a recipe calls for baking soda, it usually calls for an acidic ingredient to activate it. Upon activation, carbon dioxide is produced, which allows baked goods to rise and become light and fluffy. A good rule of thumb: I usually use around 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of flour in a recipe.
Baking powder, however, contains both the base (sodium bicarbonate) and the acid needed for the product to rise. Since baking powder already contains an acid to neutralize its baking soda, it’s usually used when a recipe does not call for an additional acidic ingredient. A good rule of thumb: I usually use around one teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of flour in a recipe.
Some recipes call for both baking powder and baking soda. That’s because sometimes you need more leavening than you have acid available in the recipe. Again, it’s all about balance. While it’s possible to interchange baking soda and baking powder in recipes, it’s not as straightforward as simply replacing one for the other. Swapping baking powder for baking soda won’t require additional ingredients. However, baking soda is much stronger than baking powder. Thus, you likely need around three times as much powder as soda to create the same rising ability. Also, this substitution may cause your final product to have a chemical or bitter taste, so take care of that point too.