What can I substitute for yeast?

In this short article, we will provide you with an answer to the question. “What can I substitute for yeast?” with an in-depth analysis of yeast, and will provide you the best substitute for yeast.

What can I substitute for yeast?

The global yeast market was worth USD 3.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 6.1 billion by 2025, showing a compound annual growth rate of 9.6% during this period (1).

You can substitute the below things for yeast:

·         Baking powder

·         Sourdough starter

·         Baking soda and lemon juice

·         Milk and vinegar

·         Potassium bicarbonate and salt

·         Beaten egg whites

Why do we need to substitute yeast?

The objective of using yeast substitutes is to ensure that your bread, rolls, or baked goods continue to rise and become fluffy or leavened. Your finished product will literally flop if you do not use a substitute. Later on, some of the strongest yeast replacements will be recommended.

 Yeast is made up of many tiny, single-celled plants, which grow by budding and each bud breaking away from the parent cell and forming new buds. Though most yeast replicate only as single cells, under a number of circumstances some yeasts can figure out as filaments. As soon as the yeast has been added to the dough or batter, the yeast begins to feed on the starch in the mixture, forming sugar, alcohol and carbon dioxide. The bubbles of CO2 cause the dough to expand. The dough must be “kneaded” thoroughly to distribute the bubbles evenly and then left to rise again, usually to about double its original volume. If the mixture is left too long, acid produced by the oxidation of the alcohol results in the taste sour of the product (2).

Nutritional yeast is low in calories, but it is high in fiber. Abdominal discomfort, such as cramps or diarrhea, can result from consuming too much fiber too rapidly.

While nutritional yeast is high in vitamins and minerals including vitamin B-12 and zinc, some yeast products contain compounds like tyramine, which can cause migraines in some people (3).

What is the best substitute for yeast?

Baking Powder:

In a baker’s pantry, baking powder is an essential component. Baking soda and an acid, commonly cream of tartar, are combined in this recipe. 

Baking powder, like yeast, acts as a leavening agent. It has two modes of operation:

  1. Reacting with liquid: When the acid is moistened, it combines with the baking soda, resulting in carbon dioxide bubbles.
  2. Reacting with heat: These gas bubbles expand while the dough is heated, causing it to rise.

When baking powder is exposed to liquid and heat, it reacts instantly. As a result, unlike yeast, baking powder does not require an additional rise time. As a result, it’s commonly used to leaven fast bread such as pancakes, cornbread, biscuits, and cakes.

In baked goods, similar amounts of baking powder can be substituted for yeast.

Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, dry acid and inert corn starch filler. The starch filler keeps the soda and acid from reacting with each other prematurely and standardizes the weight in the baking powder canister. Commercial baking powder yields at least 12.0% available CO2 gas by weight and home-use powders yield 14.0% CO2. When combined with water, the sodium bicarbonate and acid salts react to produce gaseous carbon dioxide (4).

Sourdough starter:

Naturally, occurring yeast can be found in the sourdough starters. It is a sourdough starter formed from wheat and water that’s used to make sourdough bread. A sourdough starter ferments in the same way as instant yeast does. You can replace one 2-teaspoon box of yeast with 1 cup (300 grams) of sourdough starter.

The sourdough microbiome is maintained in a starter that is used to inoculate dough for bread production. Yeasts, lactic acid bacteria, and acetic acid bacteria in the starter produce CO2 that leavens the bread. Microbial activities including the production of organic acids and extracellular enzymes also impact bread flavor, texture, shelf-stability, and nutrition (5).

Baking soda and lemon juice:

To make up the amount of yeast needed in the recipe, combine equal parts lemon juice and baking soda. It can also be used as a yeast alternative.

Baking soda liberates the same gas when mixed with an acid, either hot or cold. When used alone, baking soda reacts quickly with heat and CO2 may escape from raw batter before it is able to leaven. It even reacts with the shortening and a residual flavor is felt besides causing unpleasant taste, brown color and alkaline odor. Therefore, baking soda must be combined with a suitable quantity of acid so that neutral residue is formed (4). 

Potassium Bicarbonate and Salt:

Potassium bicarbonate, which is commonly used as a dietary supplement, can also be used as a baking soda replacement. Because potassium bicarbonate does not include sodium, this substitution is especially useful for individuals trying to reduce their salt intake. It can be used in place of baking soda in a 1:1 ratio.

However, because of the reduced salt level, your dish’s flavor may change. If you are not concerned about sodium intake, you can compensate for the flavor difference by adding additional salt to your recipe.

Potassium bicarbonate can be used as a substitute for sodium bicarbonate to lower the sodium content of the finished product. It is soluble in water and partly decomposes upon heating to give partial release of available CO2, thus requiring a leavening acid in order to yield complete release of CO2. Potassium bicarbonate is seldom used because it has a bitter aftertaste and is highly hygroscopic, making it difficult to store (4).

Beaten Egg Whites:

One of the best substitutes for yeast is beaten egg whites. You fill egg whites with air as you beat them, which aids the leavening process. To help the egg whites along, you can also add club soda. Items that work well with this method include pancakes, muffins, and cakes.

The most important function of air bubbles in leavening is that they serve as nuclei for other leavening gases, which diffuse and expand them. Air may be incorporated by creaming fat and sugar for a cake, by beating egg whites/whole eggs for sponge cake by sifting ingredients or by folding (lifting and turning) the airy egg into the mixture. Using a whisk on certain liquids, notably cream or egg whites can also create foams through mechanical action (4).

Ratio:  To 1 teaspoon of yeast, add 2 beaten egg whites.

Separate the yolk from the whites if the recipe already requires eggs. Toss in the egg yolks with the liquids. Combine some of the sugar in the recipe with the egg whites. Fold them into the rest of the ingredients, keeping the air in the batter, once they are creamy.

Double-acting baking powder:

Baking powder is a leavening agent that can be used in any recipe. To allow the dough to rise, baking soda requires an acid component. Baking powder is created by combining baking soda with a dry acid, commonly a cream of tartar. This ingredient can be used in place of yeast in the recipe in an equal proportion.

A fast-acting acid reacts in a wet mixture with baking soda at room temperature and releases most of its CO2 gas during bench operation and very little during baking. A slow-acting acid does not release much of gas during bench operation but is released when it comes in contact with 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).

Other FAQs about Yeast that you may be interested in.

Does Nutritional Yeast Have MSG

What is the best temperature for yeast?

Can you eat nutritional yeast raw?

Can I use bread yeast to make beer?


In this short article, we have provided you with an answer to the question. “What can I substitute for yeast?” with an in-depth analysis of yeast and have provided you the best substitute for yeast.


  1. Binati, Renato L., et al. Non-conventional yeasts for food and additives production in a circular economy perspective. FEMS Yeast Res, 2021, 21, foab052.
  2. Ali, Akbar, et al. Yeast, its types and role in fermentation during bread making process-A. Pak J Food Sci, 2012, 22, 171-179.
  3. Jach, Monika E., and Anna Serefko. Nutritional yeast biomass: characterization and application. Diet, microbiome and health. Academic Press, 2018. 237-270.
  4. Neeharika, B., et al. Leavening Agents for Food Industry. Int. J. Curr. Microbiol. App. Sci, 2020, 9, 1812-1817.
  5. Landis, Elizabeth A., et al. The diversity and function of sourdough starter microbiomes. Elife, 2021, 10, e61644.