Understanding Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder: What's the Difference?

NNicholas August 17, 2023 2:46 PM

In the world of baking, two ingredients often lead to confusion - Baking Soda and Baking Powder. They might seem interchangeable at first glance, but there's a world of difference between them. Understanding these differences is the key to baking success.

What is Baking Soda?

Baking Soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a base mineral that reacts when it comes into contact with acids, like buttermilk, yogurt or vinegar. This reaction creates carbon dioxide gas bubbles that cause the dough to rise.

What is Baking Powder?

Unlike Baking Soda, Baking Powder is a complete leavening agent. It combines sodium bicarbonate and an acid in one package. The acid doesn’t react until it’s moist and hot. Hence, Baking Powder is used in recipes without acidic ingredients.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

Though both are used to leaven baked goods, they can’t be used interchangeably in a recipe. Here’s why:

Baking Soda Baking Powder
Composition Base mineral (sodium bicarbonate) Combination of Baking Soda and acid
Reaction Reacts with acid to produce CO2 gas Acid in it reacts when it gets hot and moist
Usage Used in recipes with acidic ingredients Used in recipes without acidic ingredients

When to use which?

Use Baking Soda when your recipe includes acidic ingredients. It’s four times stronger than Baking Powder, so you’ll need less of it. For each cup of flour, use a 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda.

On the other hand, use Baking Powder if the recipe does not have acidic ingredients. For each cup of flour, it normally requires 1 teaspoon of Baking Powder.

Baking Soda and Baking Powder in cooking

Not just in baking, Baking Soda and Baking Powder can be used in cooking too. Baking Soda is often used in recipes like cookies and muffins, while Baking Powder finds its place in cakes, biscuits, and bread.


If you run out of one, don’t fret! You can substitute Baking Powder for Baking Soda (though you’ll need more Baking Powder and it may affect the taste), but you can’t use Baking Soda when a recipe calls for Baking Powder.

Baking Soda can also be replaced with Potassium Bicarbonate as a healthier alternative.

By understanding these differences and using them appropriately, you can elevate your baking and cooking to new heights.

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