What can I use instead of yeast?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question,”What can I use instead of yeast?”, and discuss what yeast is along with briefly describing the substitutes for yeast.

What can I use instead of yeast?

Baking powder, baking soda with acid and sourdough starter can be substituted for yeast. Moreover, you can also beat egg whites to create your own recipe that mimics the fermentation process performed by yeast.

Baking powder

Baking powder is also a base ingredient used in the baking industry. It consists of cream of tartar that is an acid plus baking soda which consists of a base known as sodium bicarbonate. 

When water is added to the baking powder, the acid reacts with the base in the baking soda, to form carbon dioxide bubbles, causing the dough to rise. When the activated baking powder is heated, it causes the expansion of carbon dioxide bubbles.

Baking powder has an advantage over yeast that it reacts immediately when water is added or when it is exposed to heat. Therefore it does not require time for the dough to rise, making it a time efficient alternative to yeast. 

The quick rising property is beneficial for making quick breads such as pancakes, corn breads, biscuits and cakes.

Baking soda and acid 

Baking soda can be added to any acid or vice versa as a replacement to yeast. Using baking soda alone will not cause the dough to rise, as it only contains the sodium bicarbonate base and no acid. 

Acids may include lemon juice, buttermilk, vinegar, milk plus vinegar and cream of tartar. To be used as a replacement, ½ the desired amount of yeast is replaced with baking soda and the other ½ is replaced with acid.It has the same advantage as baking powder or yeast in that it does not require time to rise. 

Sourdough starter

Sourdough starter consists of yeast that is present naturally. Sourdough is formed from flour and water and is used to make sourdough bread which has a tangent flavour. Sourdough starters are usually maintained for years by fermenting it continuously to obtain a strong flavour and a soft chewable texture. 

The sourdough starters work in the same way as yeast. 1 cup of sourdough starter can be used to replace 2 tsp of packaged yeast. 

You can make your own sourdough starter by combining half a cup of water in a large glass vessel and covering the container or the vessel with a loose plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. 

The starter is then fed with the same amounts of flour and water and left at room temperature the second day. The bubbles start to form by the end of the second day and the smell becomes yeasty. 

The whole process is repeated the second day and more bubbles start to form, the previous ones increasing in size.

Beaten egg whites

When the egg whites are beaten, they are filled with air which helps to leaven the bakery items. Club soda can be added to egg whites to support the leavening process. 2 beaten egg whites can be used instead of 1 tsp yeast.

The egg white after whipped or beaten are then carefully folded in batters. They are not an ideal alternative to be used for rising doughs and are mostly used for making cakes, pancakes, muffins and biscuit batters.

The above alternatives discussed can be used but they cannot give the same structure as yeast. Yeast is a living and a breathing micro-organism and nothing can actually replace it fully.

What is yeast?

Yeast is an important ingredient for making the dough rise. It is therefore used in breads, cakes, dinner rolls, pizza, cinnamon rolls and other bakery items. Yeast used in baking is the active dry yeast which is activated when water is added and releases carbon dioxide. The gas produces air bubbles that get entrapped in the dough. 

The bubbles have the ability to expand at room temperatures, or when the dough is heated. This process of rise is called leavening, which causes the formation of larger and fluffier breads. 

Other FAQs about Yeast that you may be interested in.

What is the economic importance of fermentation by yeast?

What does yeast come from?

What is the difference between pizza yeast and regular yeast?

What are the products of fermentation in yeast?


In this brief article, we answered the question,”What can I use instead of yeast?”, and discussed what yeast is along with describing briefly the substitutes for yeast