Learn to make baking powder using another essential baking ingredient — baking soda.
If you want to bake biscuits, scones, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, quick breads, and pancakes, in all likelihood you will need baking powder or baking soda. Baking soda and baking powder, like yeast, create leavening or "lift" in baked goods with carbon dioxide gas.
Some recipes call for baking soda, some call for baking powder, and some call for a combination of the two. Next time you find yourself without baking powder (or with expired baking powder) use this simple baking powder substitute recipe to make it yourself.
What Baking Powder Does
While yeast produces carbon dioxide gas as it metabolizes sugar, baking powder produces carbon dioxide gas from an acid base reaction with liquid, such as milk. Baking soda is a base (or alkali ingredient), so it requires acidity to work. It is often used in recipes with acidic ingredients such as buttermilk or yogurt.
But baking powder already includes acid in the form of potassium bitartrate, so it can be used in recipes that do not have any acidic ingredients.
The Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder
Baking soda is a great ingredient to have on hand. It can be used in many ways including for cleaning, to put out kitchen fires, and to keep your refrigerator fresh.
So what's baking powder then? Baking powder is made up of baking soda (which acts as the base) along with the addition of some acids. These acids react with baking soda once they are hot and wet. This reaction causes carbon dioxide gas to release, causing bubbles to expand, and thus leavening the mixture.
Store-bought baking powder starts to lose potency as soon as the package is opened and usually only lasts nine to 12 months at most. If you're not sure if your baking powder is still good, combine a spoonful of baking powder in a glass of warm water. If you see bubbles form, it's still good. If not, you will need to make baking powder with baking soda. Keep reading to learn how.
If you’re looking forward to a baking adventure, baking powder is a must-have. And in most households, it’s a staple that we always have stored somewhere in the kitchen.
But if you’re not that big of a baker and don’t use the powder that often, questions about its shelf life and spoilage arise eventually.
And even if you use baking powder regularly, like for making pancakes every week, it takes some time until you go through the whole container. And when you find that your baked goods aren’t as fluffy as they used to, you might be wondering why.
More often than not, it’s the leavening agent’s fault, especially if the issue seems permanent, not a one-off thing. Because even though the powder doesn’t go bad like dairy or fruit, it loses its potency over time.
Image used under Creative Commons from psrobin
Can Baking Powder Ever Go Bad?
Baking powder, similarly to baking soda and most spices, doesn’t really go bad. Not on its own, at least.
If water gets to the package, clumps will form, and the product is pretty much useless. So if the powder is clumpy, wet, or there are any signs of organic growth, throw the powder out.
While baking powder doesn’t spoil in the traditional meaning of the word, its potency drops gradually. And at a certain point, the substance becomes useless, at least when it comes to using it for baking purposes. When exactly does that happen?
(credit: Heather Barnes)
How Long Does Baking Powder Last?
Baking powder lasts around six months to one year .
No matter if you buy it in small packets or big containers, there should be a best-by date printed there. And that date is a pretty good indicator of how long, at the very least, the powder should stay potent.
Of course, it’s not like the substance will be rendered useless the next day or week. That date is always an estimate. And when it comes to baking powder, it should retain potency for at least a month past that date, possibly more.
|Baking powder (unopened)||Best-by + 1 – 3 months|
|Baking powder (opened)||Best-by + 1 – 3 months|
But when you’re preparing for a critical baking project, like a birthday cake, or some baked goods for a family gathering, having an estimate isn’t good enough, right?
It’d be much better to have a sure-fire way of telling if the powder is still potent or not. And fortunately for all of us occasional bakers, there is.
(credit: Taylor Grote)
How To Test If Baking Powder Is Still Good?
Testing whether the baking powder is still active is super simple. You just need half a teaspoon of the substance and some boiling or very hot water .
Put the powder in a bowl and pour about 1/4 cup (
60 ml) of the water over it. The solution should bubble immediately. You should end up with a decent amount of foam on top. Something like this:
If it doesn’t fizz, or only foams a little, the baking powder is old and useless for baking. Discard it and open a fresh one.
If you have some opened or even unopened “expired” baking powder, always test it before using it. Especially if you haven’t used it in more than a couple of weeks. If you bake pancakes with it regularly, and they turn out just fine, you can be reasonably sure the leavening agent does its job.
Baking powder is a cooking product that helps batter rise. This article discusses the effects of swallowing a large amount of baking powder. Baking powder is considered nontoxic when it is used in cooking and baking. However, serious complications can occur from overdoses or allergic reactions.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual overdose. If you have an overdose, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate (also found in baking soda) and an acid (such as cream of tartar). It may also contain cornstarch or a similar product to keep it from clumping.
The above ingredients are used in baking powder. They may also be found in other products.
The symptoms of a baking powder overdose include:
Seek medical help right away. DO NOT make a person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to do so.
If the person can swallow, give them water or milk right away, unless a provider tells you not to. DO NOT give water or milk if the person has symptoms that make it hard to swallow. These include vomiting, having convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness.
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- The person’s age, weight, and condition
- The name of the product
- The time it was swallowed
- The amount swallowed
Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
The provider will measure and monitor the person’s vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The person may receive:
- Blood and urine tests
- ECG (electrocardiogram or heart rhythm tracing)
- Intravenous fluids (through a vein)
- Medicines to treat symptoms
The outcome of a baking powder overdose depends on many factors, including:
- Amount of baking powder swallowed
- Person’s age, weight, and overall health
- Type of complications that develop
If nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not controlled, serious dehydration and body chemical and mineral (electrolyte) imbalances may occur. These can cause heart rhythm disturbances.
Keep all household food items in their original containers and out of the reach of children. Any white powder may look like sugar to a child. This mix up could lead to accidental ingestion.
National Library of Medicine. Toxnet: Toxicology Data Network website. Sodium bicarbonate. toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search2/r?dbs+hsdb:@[email protected]+697. Updated December 12, 2018. Accessed May 14, 2019.
Thomas SHL. Poisoning. In: Ralston SH, Penman ID, Strachan MWJ, Hobson RP, eds. Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 7.
This article was co-authored by Emily Margolis. Emily Margolis is a baking entrepreneur in Baltimore, MD. With over 15 years of baking experience, she founded Baking with Chef Emily in 2018, offering private baking lessons in the D.C. area.
There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
This article has been viewed 151,546 times.
Baking powder (not to be mistaken for baking soda) is a leavening agent used to lighten doughs by releasing gas, forming bubbles causing the dough to rise. It is often bought ready mixed but you can easily make your own with a few ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
Did you make this recipe?
- The cultures in these dairy products react with the baking soda to create the gas necessary for leavening your baked goods.
- Only use buttermilk as a substitute in recipes that already require wet ingredients. If necessary, reduce the measurements of the other wet ingredients to prevent your batter or dough from being too moist.
- The acid in the lemon juice creates the chemical reaction with the baking soda, working in a pinch if you don’t have baking powder.
- Using lemon juice may leave a residual flavor, so only use it in products that you don’t mind tasting mildly of citrus.
Did you make this recipe?
- Sprinkle some baking powder in your dishwasher for an extra clean set of dishes.
- Pour 1-2 tablespoons (33-66 g) baking powder in with your laundry to help boost your detergent.
- Mix a little baking powder with hot water to create a paste and leave on dried food. It will work to remove the food from stoves, countertops, and dishes so that cleaning them down with a sponge afterwards is much easier.  X Research source
- Clean your microwave. Mix 2-4 tablespoons (66-132 g) of baking powder with 1 cup (240 mL) of water and place the mixture in the microwave. Heat until the water boils, and allow time for it to cool in the microwave. Afterwards, it should be much easier to wipe down the interior of the microwave.
- Clean your dirty mop by soaking it in a mixture of warm water and baking soda. It will remove any unwanted odors from mold or mildew that may be trapped in the mop head.
- Clean your drains. Pour half a cup of baking soda and then half a cup of vinegar down your clogged drain. Let the solution sit for a few minutes, and then pour hot water down the drain to rinse.
Did you make this recipe?
About This Article
To make baking powder, start by sifting baking soda, cornstarch, and cream of tartar into a bowl. Then, simply whisk the ingredients together, and store your baking powder in an airtight container for up to 10 weeks. You can also make baking powder by using equal parts baking soda and buttermilk to leaven baked goods. Alternatively, try mixing equal parts lemon juice and baking soda for a suitable substitute. You can also use ⅓ cup of molasses with ¼ teaspoon baking soda as a substitution in gingerbread or spice cakes. To learn how to use your homemade baking powder, keep reading!
You only need two ingredients to make this baking staple.
It happens to the best of us. You're at the grocery store buying ingredients for a baked good recipe, and you assume you have all the staples. But sometimes, you arrive home only to find you’re fresh out of baking powder. Though you might be tempted to use baking soda instead, the two are not interchangeable.
Baking soda is alkaline, meaning it reacts with an acid (for example, buttermilk in a cake recipe) to form carbon dioxide gas, which causes the cake to rise. Baking powder, on the other hand, has a dry acid mixed in. While it doesn't react in its dry state, the magic is activated as soon as a liquid is added.
RELATED: Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder: Here's the Difference
If you have cream of tartar and baking soda on hand, you're seconds away from homemade baking powder. Using a ratio of 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part baking soda, stir the two together until combined, then use the mixture in place of baking powder. This works because cream of tartar is an acid (specifically, it's the byproduct of wine production).
Note that your mixture will mimic single-acting baking powder, as opposed to double-acting, which you're likely used to. What this means is that the baking powder will react as soon as liquid is present for one reaction. Double-acting baking powder reacts a second time once it’s in the oven and heat is present.
Because of this, you'll want to act quickly, since the baking powder will react as soon as you make your batter—and only then. In order to capitalize on all that captured gas, get your baked goods into the oven ASAP to guarantee they will rise.
Save yourself a trip to the store—or a ruined cake.
We’ve all been there. You’re assembling the ingredients for a recipe and the baking powder is either nowhere to be found or it’s gone bad. The shelf life of baking powder is about 12 months, but it can go bad as little as six months after opening.
Before you start heading to grocery store, consider a substitution. If you have a few items on hand, you might be able to find a substitute and save yourself the trip.
If you’re worried about your baking powder going bad, there are a few ways to ensure it lasts—and to make sure it’s active before you cook with it. Store baking powder in a cool, dry place, and always check the expiration date before using. To see if it still works, mix 1/2 teaspoon baking powder with 1/2 cup hot water. If the mixture doesn’t bubble immediately, toss it.
Craving something sweet? We can help! Check out our favorite homemade cake recipes, or try your hand at these easy bread recipes. Looking for another baking hack? Try our heavy cream substitutes.
Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and a water-activated acid. It’s used as a quick leavening agent to help cakes and breads rise without needing yeast. When mixed with a liquid, baking powder releases bubbles of carbon dioxide, which causes baked goods to rise.
Cream of tartar is the acid that is typically in baking powder, so if you have any on hand, you can combine it with baking soda and you’re all set. To replace 1 teaspoon baking powder, combine 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar.
Buttermilk, which is slightly soured milk, is also acidic, so it can be combined with baking soda to leaven foods. To substitute for 1 teaspoon baking powder, combine 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Reduce the other liquids in the recipe by 1/2 cup to maintain the desired consistency.
Like buttermilk, yogurt is also slightly acidic, making it an easy substitution. As with the buttermilk, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 cup yogurt should have the same leavening power as 1 teaspoon baking powder. You’ll need to reduce the wet ingredients by about 1/2 cup to maintain the right ratios in your recipe.
No buttermilk? You can create your own sour milk by stirring 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or vinegar into a cup of milk. Let the cup stand for 10 minutes or so, and then use it as you would buttermilk.
Milk that has already gone sour may not be safe to use, so you should probably just toss it!
Lemon juice is another common household acid that can be used to make a substitute for baking powder. But take note: This will alter the final flavor of your dish, so only use it if you don’t mind adding a lemon flavor to the dish, and you have no other options. Use 1 teaspoon lemon juice plus a ¼ teaspoon baking soda to make 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
Any type of vinegar can also be used, though white vinegar will result in the most neutral flavoring of the cake, muffin, or other dish. It’ll still add a little flavor, however. Just like with lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of vinegar plus ¼ teaspoon baking soda will make 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
Though you may not think of it as particularly acidic, molasses, which has a ph of 5.5, is just acidic enough to work as a leavener with baking soda. 1/4 cup molasses plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda will substitute for 1 teaspoon baking powder. You’ll want to lower the other liquids by about 1/4 cup to keep the proportions even.
Self-rising flour doesn’t need baking powder because it already contains some! In fact, it’s simply a combination of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. If you’re making biscuits or quick breads, chances are you can use it in place of those three ingredients.
Conversely, if you have a recipe that calls for self-rising flour and you don’t have any on hand, simply combine 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
If you find that your baking powder is going bad a lot — or that you’re going through a lot — you can save a little money by simply making a month’s worth at a time at home. To do this, simply combine two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda and one part cornstarch. Mix it together and seal it in an airtight jar. The cornstarch isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’ll help the mixture keep, and prevent clumping.
Heather Dessinger 10 Comments This post contains affiliate links.
Whether it’s a batch of banana walnut muffins or a short stack of buttermilk pancakes, sometimes you just need to grab a whisk, some eggs, and . . . ruh roh, you’re out of baking powder.
Or are you? [awkward stare]
Although it may seem like magical fairy dust made from a carefully guarded proprietary recipe, it’s actually super easy to make a baking powder substitute using just a few ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
And by baking powder substitute, I mean a substitute for the store-bought stuff. This is actual baking powder, just formulated in your kitchen instead of a huge manufacturing facility.
The Difference Between Baking Powder & Baking Soda (And Why It Matters)
If you’ve ever wondered why some recipes call for baking soda and others call for baking powder, here’s the deal:
Baking powder and baking soda are both leavening agents, which cause baked goods to rise. They do this via a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide bubbles. As the dough (or batter) cooks, the bubbles create air pockets that yield a light, fluffy texture.
So what causes this chemical reaction? Remember the volcano-making science experiment from school, when we learned that mixing acids with bases causes the release of carbon dioxide gas? This is the same thing, only we need to make delicate little air bubbles in our homemade goodies instead of a big mess.
Baking soda is a base, so when you mix it with something acidic it becomes activated and – voila – fluffy deliciousness. Some recipes include acidic ingredients like honey, sour cream or lemon juice, and therefore don’t need anything extra to activate the baking soda.
Some don’t, though, and if you try to get them to rise with just baking soda you’ll end up with a dense, brick-like finished product. That’s where baking powder comes in – it’s baking soda mixed with an acid (cream of tartar) that will activate when the ingredients are mixed with a liquid.
Manufacturers also usually include cornstarch or something similar to keep the mixture from caking, so I’ve factored that into the recipe below as well. If you leave it out, you end up with baking powder that is more concentrated than what is sold in stores and can therefore cause too much of a rise.
Learning how to make baking powder is very simple. You can make a homemade, aluminum-free DIY baking powder by sifting together 3 ingredients!
During the holidays, I love to bake. Well, any time of the year I do a lot of baking, but especially in the winter. Maybe it’s the need for warmth or the memories of baking with Mom and Grandma as a child. Whatever the reason, I bake!
One of the key ingredients in a lot of quick breads, cookies, and biscuits is baking powder. I’m finding a lot of commercial brands contain aluminum and we can’t have that! So let’s learn how to make baking powder that is aluminum-free.
What is Baking Powder?
Baking powder is a common ingredient in bread and desserts. It helps with leavening or making things rise. This is important in quick breads, like banana bread and biscuits. Bakers also use it in cookies to help them rise a bit before setting. Without it, a lot of your baked goods would turn out flat and dense. It adds a fluffiness that you can’t get from much anything else.
3 Ingredients in DIY Baking Powder
Baking soda is one of the main ingredients in baking powder. The base or alkaline nature of baking powder reacts with acids, like milk, for example, to form carbon dioxide. This then forms bubbles in the mix, making it fluffy, improving texture, and adding volume.
Cream of Tartar
Along with baking soda, cream of tartar is the other essential ingredient. This provides acid for the base of the baking soda to react with. In recipes containing water as an ingredient, this is especially helpful to provide lightness. Cream of tartar, or potassium bitartrate, is useful as a weak acid. It’s also used in bath bombs to make them harder and in cookies to provide a light, tender cookie. Amazing, versatile stuff!
Making baking powder
As it turns out, baking powder is really easy to make. And I mean really easy. We commonly say our recipes are easy to make, and most are. But this recipe is definitely at the top of the simplicity list!
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup non-GMO cornstarch (optional)
Sift ingredients together and store your homemade baking powder in an airtight jar. It will keep for about a year. Some recipes also call for cornstarch to keep it from clumping together. I store mine in pint jars with tight-fitting lids and never have a clumping problem. You can use arrowroot powder in place of cornstarch or just omit it altogether. The cornstarch and arrowroot can help deter clumping.
To test it, drop a small amount into a cup of warm water. If it fizzes, it’s still good.
Why Do They Use Aluminum?
Some commercial brands contain aluminum. Aluminum phosphate is a weak acid, like cream of tartar, and is more readily available. It was commonly used to react with the baking soda but has not been used as much in recent years. There is a possible link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease, although that is being studied more.
There is also some evidence that aluminum is a byproduct of heating baking powder at higher temperatures. They do this in some humid locations to drive off moisture. The temperatures in your average oven don’t come close to the 1,000°F temperatures that commercial powder is heated to, so there is no need to worry when making homemade baking powder.
Since you never know how old baking powder found on the grocery store shelves is, now you can make your own! Happy baking!
About Debra Maslowski
Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!
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Thank you for including a corn free option as I’m allergic to corn. I’ve done very little of making some of my family’s favorite recipes as I wanted to stay away from the baking powder even though I realize it doesn’t add much corn to the overall finished product. This recipe will help. Thank you.
Beth Benta says
I agree with Hazel, the site has become overrun with ads.
Hazel McClaire says
Love the DIY info, but there are so many ads that I spend more time deleting the ads than reading the post. 🙁
Thank you for your feedback ladies!
About Matt & Betsy
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DIY Natural is about rediscovering the traditional value of doing things yourself, doing them naturally, and enjoying the benefits. Welcome to the movement! (read more)
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