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Baking Soda versus Baking Powder

Equipment Tips

Baking soda versus baking powder: what’s the difference?

Baking is a science and having the right ingredients can make a big difference in your finished product. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between the two, you’re not alone! Many people don’t know that there is a difference between these two common ingredients, but understanding that difference can help you bake better treats.

Baking Soda

Also known as “soda” or sodium bicarbonate. Soda is an alkaline substance used to make baked goods rise. It does this by releasing carbon dioxide when heated or combined with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Baking soda has been around for centuries, and was even used by ancient Egyptians to make cakes. It’s usually sold in a powdered form, although some brands do offer it in granulated form as well.

Baking Powder

Baking powder on the other hand is a combination of several different ingredients including baking soda. Typically, there’s also an acid like cream of tartar, and sometimes cornstarch or other stabilizers to keep it from clumping up. When water is added to baking powder, carbon dioxide bubbles are produced and this causes baked goods to rise up in the oven.

So when should you use each one?

Generally speaking, if a recipe calls for baking soda it means that it’s relying on an acid ingredient like vinegar or lemon juice to activate it. Consequently, add those liquids first before adding the baking soda. If a recipe calls for baking powder then no additional acid ingredient needs to be added. Just mix your dry ingredients together and then add liquid as per usual.

It’s important to remember that baking soda has four times the power of baking powder so when converting recipes that call for one over the other (like if you want to turn a cupcake recipe into muffins) keep this ratio in mind – 1 teaspoon of baking powder equals ¼ teaspoon of soda.

Using either one incorrectly can result in poorly risen cakes or cookies that don’t cook evenly. So always double check before substituting one for another if necessary! That said, both are indispensable tools when it comes to home baked treats. Next time you go shopping for ingredients consider picking up both baking soda and baking powder – your finished treats will thank you later!

Hi! I'm Sydney,

nice to meet you!

I left a marketing career in Hollywood to go to the Culinary Institute of America. After a few years of working in restaurants, I am now a private chef and sommelier in the 30a area.


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