Can you substitute baking soda for baking powder in pancakes?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you substitute baking soda for baking powder in pancakes?”, and what are the other substitutes for baking powder?

Can you substitute baking soda for baking powder in pancakes?

Yes, you can substitute baking soda for baking powder in pancakes. Since baking soda has an alkaline ph, it needs an acidic ingredient to function as a leavening agent. Replace 1 tsp of baking powder with:

  1. ½ teaspoon cream of tartar plus ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  2. Or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice plus a ¼ teaspoon of baking soda

Baking soda consists of a single chemical, sodium bicarbonate (or bicarbonate of soda). begins to react and create carbon dioxide when it comes into contact with an acidic liquid, such as buttermilk, sour cream, applesauce, citrus juices, honey, molasses, or vinegar. The chemical reaction is:

Na+ + HCO3 + CH3CO2H  → H2O + CO2 + Na+ + CH3CO2

Sodium bicarbonate and acetic acid react to produce water, carbon dioxide, and sodium acetate (2).

According to research, the foods and beverages that were most consumed for breakfast on a given day by children and adolescents in 2015–2018 were milk, cereal, and water. The remaining top five foods were pancakes, waffles, and French toast (15.5%) and eggs (14.6%), reported by children aged 2–5 years; 100% juice (15.3%) and pancakes (12.4%), reported by those aged 6–11 years; and 100% juice (8.9%) and eggs (8.8%), reported by adolescents (1).

How to make pancakes without baking powder?


  • 1 ½ cups flour, white or wheat
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter


  1. Heat a frying pan or griddle over a medium-high flame. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt until well-combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and lemon juice. The milk will curdle after a few minutes and that is what we are looking for.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well-combined and lump-free batter forms. Add a tablespoon or two of milk to the batter if it is too thick.
  5. Melt butter or oil on a heated frying pan or griddle. Then ladle on about ½ cup pancake batter for a single pancake on a heated pan or griddle. 
  6. Cook the pancake for about 2-3 minutes or until bubbles emerge from the center of the pancake. At this point, the sides of the pancake leave the pan and develop a golden color.
  7. Flip the pancake and cook the other side for another 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. 
  8. Repeat the process until the batter is finished.

The best handy substitutes for baking powder


Traditionally, buttermilk was prepared as a by-product of the churning of sweet cream into butter. Presently, buttermilk is prepared by fermenting milk using bacteria cultures. Natural buttermilk is very low in fat (since most of the fat goes to the butter part). It can be consumed as it is or added to recipes in place of water for a nutritional boost. Cultured buttermilk is another type of buttermilk obtained by intentional acidification of skim milk done by buttermilk starter cultures. It is similar to yogurt in the sense that it is cultured using live beneficial bacteria and can be consumed as a thick and creamy beverage (3).

Replace 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder with a mixture of 1/2 a cup (122 grams) of buttermilk and 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of baking soda. Cut back on the overall amount of liquid in your recipe to adjust the texture of the end product.

Plain yogurt

Yogurt is a fermentation product, due to which it has a low ph of  4.8–5.0 and an acidic flavor. Yogurt is the combined result of the development of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbruekii subsp.  bulgaricus, which produce lactic acid (4).  When combined with baking soda, yogurt acts as an excellent substitute for baking powder. 

Replace 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of baking soda and 1/2 cup (122 grams) of plain yogurt. Slightly reduce the overall amount of liquids in your recipe when using this substitute.


Molasses is a sweetener, produced as a by-product of sugar manufacturing. Due to the low pH of molasses, it can serve as an acidic counterpart of the basic baking soda, to function as a leavening agent.

Molasses is produced via the separation of sucrose crystals that follow the water evaporation from clarified juice (from sugarcane or beet) during the production of crystal sugar. The composition and final quality of molasses vary a great deal among batches, having different titers of nutrients (e.g., minerals, sucrose, glucose, fructose, vitamins, fatty acids, etc.) and toxic compounds (e.g., aluminum and sulfites and thermal sugar degradation compounds). Sugarcane molasses contains citric acid and malic acid, which give the product an acidic characteristic (5).

Substitute a mixture of 1/4 cup (84 grams) molasses plus 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda for every teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder.

Cream of tartar 

Cream of tartar, potassium hydrogen tartrate, is a by-product of winemaking. It stabilizes the egg whites and creams by preventing the formation of sugar crystals.

Potassium bitartrate is derived entirely from grapes, especially the seeds, and is responsible for their sour taste. During winemaking, potassium bitartrate, being much more soluble in the “wort” than in the wine, slowly precipitates as fermentation proceeds, along with large amounts of dyes and other substances (6).

Substitute a mixture of 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of baking soda for 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) cream of tartar.

Sour milk

Sour milk is the acidified milk that performs leavening when combined with a basic ingredient such as baking soda. Sour milk is traditionally obtained by fermentation processes of milk. Many studies show that the regular consumption of sour milk has positive effects on health, including reduction of hypertension (7).

Substitute a mixture of 1/2 cup (122 grams) sour milk and 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda for every teaspoon (5 grams) of baking powder.

How to make fluffy pancakes without baking powder or baking soda from scratch?


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or another oil like canola or sunflower oil
  • butter or oil as needed to grease the pan and cook the pancakes


  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, sugar, and salt until well-combined.
  2. Carefully crack the eggs and collect the egg whites and egg yolks separately.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks thoroughly. Then stir in oil, vanilla extract, and milk until homogenous.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix well until a thick and lump-free batter forms.
  5. Grab a squeaky clean bowl and pour egg whites into it. Whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Start at a low speed then slowly increase the speed to the maximum.
  6. Gently fold the fluffy egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture using a spatula. 
  7. Make pancakes right after for best results.

Other FAQs about Baking soda that you may be interested in.

Can you cook with pure baking soda?

Can you mix bleach and baking soda?

Can you mix ammonia and baking soda


In this article, we answered the question “Can you substitute baking soda for baking powder in pancakes?”, and what are the other substitutes for baking powder?


  1. Terry, Ana L., et al. Breakfast intake among children and adolescents: United States, 2015–2018. 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  
  2. Alvarado, Jacqueline. The Math and Science of Kitchen Ratios. Yale University.    
  3. Kumar, Ravinder et al. Natural and cultured buttermilk. Fermented milk and dairy products, 2015, 203-225.
  4. Baglio, Ettore. Chemistry and technology of yoghurt fermentation. SpringerBriefs in Chemistry of Foods: Springer, 2014.
  5. de Oliveira Lino, Felipe Senne, Thiago Olitta Basso, and Morten Otto Alexander Sommer. A synthetic medium to simulate sugarcane molasses. Biotechnol Biofuel, 2018, 11.
  6. Havenhill, L. D. The Quality of Commercial Cream of Tartar. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, 903, 66-68.
  7. Tuomilehto, Jaakko, et al. Effect of ingesting sour milk fermented using Lactobacillus helveticus bacteria producing tripeptides on blood pressure in subjects with mild hypertension. J human hyper, 2004, 18, 795-802.