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You want to make a batch of chewy cookies. The eggs and butter are at room temperature. You bought our Test Kitchen’s recommended brand of chocolate chips. But when you reach into the pantry, you’re missing one key ingredient.
It won’t take long to learn how to make cookies without baking soda. Thanks to good ol’ science, all it takes is a quick swap.
Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder
Though baking soda and baking powder look and feel nearly identical, there are some major differences between the two.
Baking soda is used in baking as a leavening agent. Remember that volcano science experiment from when you were a kid? The one where you added vinegar to baking soda and caused an eruption? When baking soda is combined with an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk or lemon juice, it gives your baked goods the same lift.
Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar. Because baking powder has the acid built in, it works in recipes that don’t otherwise contain acidic ingredients. Plus, most baking powders are “double-acting.” This means that rising can occur as soon as the baking powder gets wet, and then again when it comes in contact with heat (when it’s baked).
How to Replace Baking Soda
The switcheroo is simple. If you’re fresh out of baking soda, just replace the amount of baking soda with four times the amount of double-acting baking powder (2 tsp. baking powder for every 1/2 tsp. baking soda).
Yes, really—baking soda has four times the leavening power of baking powder.
Pro Tip: There is sometimes a bit of salt in baking powder. Because of this, you can omit any salt the recipe calls for when you’re making this substitution.
Next time you’re out of baking soda, have no fear! Its baking cousin can save the day.