6 Best Baking Powder Substitutes For Making Pancakes

Is there anything better than a good pancake? No matter what way you enjoy these sweet treats, whether they’re thin and floppy, or stout and scotched, you can’t go wrong with this delicacy, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

One of the core ingredients that many people use for these little guys is baking powder, a staple ingredient of pretty much any baking kitchen worth their salt (or I guess, baking powder, in this case)!

However, accidents or forgetful moments happen. Baking powder is almost only ever used in small quantities, so it’s not unreasonable for that empty can or packet to turn up empty at the back of your cupboard one day (probably in the middle of when you need it, too)!

So, when the baking powder runs out, and time for baking those pancakes is of the essence, what else can you use?

Well, for starters, you can try out one of these substitutes if they’re in your pantry!

Best Baking Powder Substitutes

Why Is Baking Powder So Good In Pancakes?

So, before we start singing the praises of all the substitutes that we’re about to cover, why exactly is baking powder such an optimal ingredient to be making pancakes with in the first place?

And, perhaps most importantly for us, what exactly does a good substitute for baking powder need to do in a pancake batter mix?

Many of you bakers out there will already be well-familiar with baking powder, and its dough-raising qualities. In many bread and cake recipes, it’s the reason that you can get such a rise out of your batter, as well as the light and fluffy texture inside.

Anyone who’s had a good pancake before will be able to tell when a pancake has had an appropriate amount of raising agent in it because it’s delightfully soft to bite into!

Plus, the generally neutral taste of baking powder means that you’re not going to get an unexpected aftertaste for it, as long as you’re using an appropriate amount.

And on that topic…

The Right Amount Of Baking Powder

Getting the right amount of baking powder is crucial to getting the right texture to form your dough or batter.

  • Too little baking powder and your dough is unlikely to raise nearly enough for the recipe to work properly. The cake or bread becomes a lot denser and tougher to bite into, which may not be what you are aiming for in your pancakes!
  • Too much, and you’ll find that your pancake rises too much, getting a chalky texture to it as you bite it, and likely ruining the whole experience!

So, a good substitute for baking powder has to do the following things for us:

  • Provide a decent amount of rise in your pancake when it comes to cooking.
  • Do not affect the flavor of your cooked pancake too much in a way that you don’t want. 

1. Buttermilk & Baking Soda

Starting this list of substitutes with one of a baker’s favorite cooking ingredients, we have the ever-popular buttermilk as a stand-in for baking powder!

Made from either the byproduct of churning sweet cream into butter, or the active fermentation of milk with an active agent, buttermilk has long been a reliable ingredient in a baker’s kitchen, whether it is made from the traditional method, or manufactured.

With its high acidity content, buttermilk is a perfect agent to help bake all kinds of baked goods, as long as it has an appropriate reactive ingredient to go with it.

This is where we introduce another favorite cooking ingredient, baking soda!

Mixing the two produces a leavening or rising effect just like what you would get from baking powder, making it a perfect substitute if you happen to be out of the latter.

The general ratio to use is half a cup of buttermilk and a quarter of a teaspoon of baking powder, whereas you would normally use a teaspoon of baking powder.

The only issue that we can see with this as a substitute is that it requires you to have both ingredients handy in your pantry. Thankfully, if you’re someone who does bake a lot, you’ll probably have both lying around for you to use!

2. Plain Yogurt & Baking Soda

Often compared to buttermilk when it comes to flavor, yogurt is a much thicker dairy product that is also a very popular ingredient in any kitchen to have, not just for bakers!

With its similarly high acidity to buttermilk, plain yogurt is also primed to be mixed with a raising agent to get the right effect. This also means the return of baking soda to your recipe list too!

Luckily for you, the proportions are even similar to the buttermilk-based substitute too, so use half a cup of yogurt and a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda. This will also give you a good ratio of around a teaspoon of baking powder.

Does the texture affect this substitute and its viability? Well, make sure that you reduce the amount of water that you add to the pancake batter to accommodate this alternative. Otherwise, your batter might not even be set when exposed to heat!

3. Cream Of Tatar & Baking Soda

If you’re looking to make a good substitute out of primarily dry ingredients here, you’re probably going to want to try out this combination of tartar and, you guessed it, baking soda!

Cream of Tatar is a cooking ingredient that is known for its high acidity, making it perfect for adding something like baking soda to get a rising effect out of your baked goods, pancakes included. You can even find it in most stores’ baking isles with baking soda!

The ratios that you’ll need here for one tablespoon of baking powder (plenty for your pancake needs and some extra) are two teaspoons of cream of Tatar, and one teaspoon of baking powder.

With both of these ingredients effectively being dried powders anyway, you’re effectively making your homemade baking powder. You might not need to buy baking powder ever again with these two ingredients handy!

(Probably best to have some baking powder handy, in case one of these two ingredients run out!)

4. Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is an excellent ingredient for making sourdough. But did you know it can be an effective baking powder substitute too?

By mixing the sourdough extract with equal parts flour and milk, you can have a batter that is going to rise on its own when heat is added, making it one of the few substitutes in this guide that do not need extra baking soda.

Of course, a good extract of sourdough isn’t exactly the easiest to get a hold of compared to some of the other substitutes on this list.

Still, if you have some handy, count your lucky stars that you have a readily available rising agent!

5. Molasses & Baking Soda

Molasses is a by-product of the sugar-making process that produces a thick, black syrup, that has a very distinct flavor to it, as well as a high acid content.

And with a high acid content, you know what we can make when we mix it with baking soda? That’s right, a raising agent! 

Mixing a quarter of a cup of molasses with a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda produces the equivalent of a teaspoon of baking powder.

It’s not without its issues. It also needs reducing when added to a pancake mix. But you can certainly do a lot worse than molasses as a baking powder substitute!

6. Whipped Egg Whites

Finally, if you’re looking for another single ingredient that will add that light, fluffy texture to your pancakes, you can also use whipped egg whites to get that result.

Whipped egg whites are the perfect way to add a fluffy texture to any baking recipe you have in mind, all without even touching baking powder or soda!

 Make sure to beat your eggs at a low speed, and fold them into your pancake batter slowly to preserve that fluffiness. Two to three whipped egg whites should do the trick!

Final Notes

So, there you have it!

Baking powder isn’t an irreplaceable ingredient to have in your kitchen, as this list has clearly shown.

Arguably, baking soda is the unsung hero on this list, given how much every other substitute needs it!

However, as this list has also hopefully shown, you should also have a new appreciation for this humble little leavening agent.

While there are plenty of ways to get your dough to rise, whether it’s in a pancake or a loaf of bread, none of them make it quite as simple as baking powder does.

6 Best Baking Powder Substitutes For Making Pancakes

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


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Pancakes are best when they are light and fluffy, thanks to the baking powder most recipes use. If you’ve run out, try out these 6 alternatives.


  • Buttermilk & Baking Soda

  • Plain Yogurt & Baking Soda

  • Cream Of Tatar & Baking Soda

  • Sourdough Starter

  • Molasses & Baking Soda

  • Whipped Egg Whites


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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