Please provide a list of alternative ingredients to baking powder, and how much of the substitute to use in place of baking powder.

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    Please be more specific. There are many, many kinds of leaveners; we need to know why you're substituting and in what kind of recipe.
    – Aaronut
    May 19, 2011 at 22:56
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    possible duplicate of How do I make a "baking powder" substitute in a pinch May 19, 2011 at 23:47
  • I think this is a bit broader than the proposed duplicate, though clearly all the answer to the earlier one are valid for this one as well. May 20, 2011 at 2:01
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    @Aaronut: There aren't that many different leaveners. I think it's a good question, and not a trivially specific one like the suggested dupe. Probably more of an interest question vs. practical, but there's a place for that sort too. I'm very tempted to pull out On Food and Cooking and write up a list and some history.
    – BobMcGee
    Jun 1, 2011 at 23:48
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    Ok Guys, Here I'm being specific: I need a leavening agent that will work well for use in muffins, and that doesn't have such high phosphorus levels. Jun 2, 2011 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


I must confess, I can't give you straight substitution amounts -- all of these leavening agents behave somewhat differently, so in most cases a straight substitution for baking soda isn't appropriate.

Ye Olde List of Leavening Agents:

Biological Cultures (Wikipedia, plus kefir whey I've seen recipes for)

  • Yeast - norm is 1 tsp/pound flour for 1-2 hour rise time
  • Sourdough - uses 1/2 to 1/4 of final flour mass, rise time varies
  • Kefir whey - similar to sourdough, unknown rise time or measurement
  • Buttermilk - no clue what substitution ratio, but wikipedia lists it. Probably acts similar to kefir whey and sourdough.
  • Yogurt -- wikipedia lists this as a leavening agent too, but I'm skeptical.
  • Beer (unpasteurized, with live yeasts)
  • Ginger beer (same deal)

All of these share the common ability to ferment flour, when handled properly.

Chemical Leaveners (Pulled straight from On Food and Cooking)

  • Pearlash and potash (mostly potassium carbonate). Purely historical leaveners, these were derived from wood ashes, and were the predecessors to baking soda.
  • Hartshorn AKA baker's ammonia (mix of ammonium carbamate and ammonium carbonate). Not used much anymore. It was once made from deer antlers, ergo the name. When heated, this produces both ammonia and carbon dioxide. Because of the ammonia, this cannot be used as a straight substitute for baking powder, due to the changes in flavor and smell it causes.
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), basic component of baking powder, reacts immediately with acid
  • Cream of tartar (tartaric acid) -- Acidic component, reacts with bases immediately
  • Monocalcium phosphate -- Acidic component, common in baking soda, reacts immediately
  • Sodium acid pyrophosphate -- Acidic component, reacts slowly with base after mixing
  • Sodium aluminum sulfate -- Acidic component, provides the "double" in most double-acting baking powders. Reacts slowly under heat.
  • Sodium aluminum phosphate -- Acidic component of double-acting baking powder, acts during early cooking at 100-104F/38-40C
  • Dimagnesium phosphate -- Acidic component of double-acting baking powder, reacts early in baking @ 104-111F/40-44C
  • Dicalcium phosphate dihydrate -- Acidic component of double-acting baking powder, reacts late in baking @ 135-140F/57-60C

So, basically you need an acid + baking soda, or one of the heat-activated compounds (hartshorn, or one of the last four salts). In many cases a dough can provide its own lactic acid.

  • This is awesome information. I have a bunch of kefir whey that I have been looking for a home for. I will have to experiment a bit with that. Jun 2, 2011 at 15:43
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    Not a bad idea... it'll probably work faster and more efficiently if you grow it into a true starter before using it to leaven bread, by giving it a few feedings on flour/water first
    – BobMcGee
    Jun 2, 2011 at 15:47
  • Awesome. Found this while in the supermarket looking for a substitute for baker's ammonia. +1 we live in the future :)
    – Agos
    Aug 7, 2011 at 11:43
  • Will I ever understand why people write "ye" instead of "þe" when they clearly mean the latter? ;-) ... answer: nope :o) ... still +1 Dec 9, 2019 at 13:16
  • Potash is what is left in your Weber after the barbeque. Usually I throw that on the compost heap. Never thought you could make bread from it
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 7, 2022 at 17:40

You can make a straight substitute 1:1 for baking powder by making your own, combine 2 parts cream of tartar and 1 part baking soda. This is essentially the same thing as baking powder, which consists of baking soda + acid.

Baking powder is used in recipes where there is insufficient acidity in the rest of the ingredients to activate the baking soda.

This type of leavening is completely different from biological leavening, and there is no reasonable substitution to be made (i.e. yeast).

  • 1
    Worth noting: The homemade baking powder you describe is not a 1:1 substitution for double-acting baking powder, which is sometimes called for in recipes, and in addition to adding the acid needed also gives some more rise later in the baking process.
    – bikeboy389
    Jun 2, 2011 at 21:09

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