The Best Baking Powder Substitute

No powder? No problem. Make your own leavener with pantry staples.

September 17, 2022
Baking soda with wooden spoon.

baking powder / baking soda

Baking soda with wooden spoon.

Photo by: skhoward / Getty Images

skhoward / Getty Images

By Regan Burns Cafiso for Food Network Kitchen

Regan is a contributing writer at Food Network.

Baking powder is a crucial ingredient in many recipes. It adds lightness and lift to cakes, waffles, muffins and more. But if you're out, don't worry — you can make your own. Our recipe for homemade baking powder works just as well as the commercial kind.

Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda

You might assume that baking soda can be substituted for baking powder, but that's not the case. Both are chemical leaveners, but they are not interchangeable. In fact, baking soda is a main ingredient in baking powder. But to work its magic, the soda needs to be paired with an acidic ingredient. This makes it react when mixed with non-acidic liquids, like water, in a recipe. We use cream of tartar — tartaric acid — as the acid in our homemade version. For more info on the differences between the two, check out our story Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda: What's the Difference?.

What Can I Use If I Don't Have Baking Powder?

To make baking powder, combine 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small glass jar or airtight container. Seal tightly and shake well.

You'll have about 1/4 cup baking powder — enough for several recipes.

Store your baking powder in cool, dry place for up to a year. (If you don't have cornstarch, omit it. It acts as an anti-caking agent to prevent clumping during storage.)

How to Check Baking Powder Is Active

Whether commercial or homemade, it's important to keep in mind that the effectiveness of baking powder decreases over time. If it's been sitting on the shelf awhile, it's a good idea to check its potency. Simply put a teaspoon of powder in a heatproof bowl and add about 1/4 cup boiling water. If it bubbles and foams furiously, it's active. If not, make a new batch! Now you're all set to start your recipe.

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