Can you use baking soda in pancakes?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you use baking soda in pancakes?”, and what does baking soda do in the pancakes?

Can you use baking soda in pancakes?

Yes, you can use baking soda in pancakes. Baking soda acts as a chemical leavening agent in baked goods and pancakes.

Baking soda is not the only chemical that performs leavening. You can replace it with other leavening agents such as baking powder (2).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a survey in the United States of which foods and beverages were most consumed for breakfast on a given day by children and adolescents in 2015–2018. The top five foods and beverages reported for breakfast varied slightly by age. Milk, cereal, and water were reported by all age groups. 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).

What does baking soda do in pancakes?

The chemical name of baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda has an alkaline ph due to which it reacts with an acid to produce carbon dioxide. 

Baking soda consists of a single chemical, sodium bicarbonate (or bicarbonate of soda). Sodium bicarbonate creates carbon dioxide, or CO2. This is the same reason baking soda will dissolve in water and bubble in acetic acid, or vinegar. Baking soda, or pure sodium bicarbonate 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

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

This carbon dioxide performs leavening when it gets trapped inside the pancake batter. In addition to this, baking soda determines the browning extent of your pancakes.

Can you make fluffy pancakes without baking soda or baking powder?


  • 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.

How long can you keep pancake batter in the fridge?

Pancake batter can be kept for about 2 days in the fridge If it has perishable ingredients like eggs and buttermilk (3). If not, it may last 1 day or two more If stored correctly.

Refrigerating pancake batter that contains baking soda 

Due to the leavening action of baking soda, the pancakes turn out light and fluffy. It starts its action as soon as it gets in contact with the wet ingredients. The pancake batter that contains baking soda should ideally be cooked right away to get the desired texture.

As baking soda begins to react and create carbon dioxide when it comes into contact with an acidic liquid, more carbon dioxide is created in the baking process once heat is added, and therefore another leavening agent is necessary, such as baking powder (2).

If your pancake batter relies solely on baking soda for leavening, making it ahead of time for refrigeration is a big no.

Refrigerating pancake batter that contains baking powder 

Unlike baking soda, baking powder performs leavening in two steps. First, when It comes in contact with the wet ingredients. Second, when It is exposed to heat.

When the chemical reactions in baking powders involve both fast- and slow-acting acids, they are known as “double-acting”. They are most widely used and available to consumers today. Double-acting baking powders work in two phases.  They release part of gas during bench operation (while mixing), increasing fluidity of cake batter. The remaining gas is released during baking, which gives volume to the end product, e.g. SAS phosphate (4).

Therefore, pancake batter with baking powder will refrigerate well. But It won’t be as fluffy as the pancake made with the fresh batter. 

To solve this problem, you can add more baking powder to the batter before cooking. Only add 25-50% baking powder of the amount called for in the original recipe.

Refrigerating pancake batter that contains yeast 

The pancake batter that contains yeast refrigerates quite well. It not only refrigerates well but also enhances the flavor of the batter overnight.

Yeast works similarly to sodium bicarbonate in the fact that it creates carbon dioxide to leaven the batter or dough. Yeast, however, is an organism that reacts with the liquid in the recipe and feeds off the sugar added to the recipe and also the sugar in the flour. As long as there is sugar or fast-digestible carbohydrate, such as white flour, the yeast will act (2).

Refrigerating pancake batter that contains buttermilk 

Pancake batter that has buttermilk is not recommended to refrigerate overnight. If the buttermilk will sit too long, It will make the batter flat.

In general, buttermilk enhances the properties of dough, including its stability. It also increases flavor and nutritional quality (6). However, no study was still done in the case of stored pancake batter containing buttermilk.

Your best bet is to mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients beforehand and keep them stored separately. 

If you are adamant to store the pancake batter with buttermilk, your best bet is to look for a recipe that also uses yeast with buttermilk.

Refrigerating pancake batter that contains egg whites 

Do not refrigerate the pancake batter with the egg whites overnight. The egg whites will lose the air they have incorporated and the pancakes won’t come out fluffy.

The use of beaten egg whites is an example of a mechanical leavening agent. Air and eggs use the mechanism of water vapor. While the dough is exposed to high heat in the oven or pan and approaches the water boiling point, moisture that was trapped or contained in the dough becomes evaporated and water turns into steam. However, the leavening effect of beaten eggs is not long (5).

Instead, mix the dry ingredients and store them separately. Just before you are ready to cook the pancakes, whip up the egg whites to soft peaks and incorporate the dry ingredients gently for nice and fluffy pancakes.

Mom’s buttermilk pancakes


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ⅛ cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat a well-greased large skillet or electric griddle.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Then add the eggs, butter, and buttermilk. Gently mix everything. The batter should have a few lumps here and there with a thick and spongy texture.
  3. Label out ⅓ cup pancake batter onto the heated skillet or griddle. Spread the batter by pressing it gently with the back of the ladle or spoon.
  4. Cook the pancake for about 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and fluffy.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

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

How much baking soda and vinegar? (+5 Ways to use)

How to make baking soda at home? (+5 substitutes)

How to tell the difference between baking soda and baking powder?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you use baking soda in pancakes?”, and what does baking soda do in the pancakes?


  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. Boyer, Renee R., and Julie Michelle McKinney. Food storage guidelines for consumers. 2018. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
  4. Neeharika, B., et al. Leavening Agents for Food Industry. Int. J. Curr. Microbiol. App. Sci, 2020, 9, 1812-1817.
  5. Lee, Geun Jung. Change in Height of Breads Baked by Different Type of Leavening Agents. The Expedition, 2020, 10.
  6. Kumar, R., et al. Natural and cultured buttermilk. Fermented milk and dairy products, 2015, 203-225.