Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder
By Andrew Parker - January 23, 2022

If you are into baking, you have probably noticed some recipes require baking powder while others call for baking soda. Are these two products the same thing? Can they be used interchangeably? What is the difference between them?

Table Summary

Baking SodaBaking Powder
Sodium bicarbonate (basic)Sodium bicarbonate (basic) + acidic ingredient
Needs acidic ingredient and liquidOnly needs a liquid
Close-Up Of Baking Soda Spilled From Measuring Spoon On Table

Getty Images / EyeEm / Michelle Arnold


Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a white crystalline powder that is naturally basic. It is used as a leavening agent in baked goods such as cakes, muffins, and cookies and becomes activated when combined with an acidic ingredient and a liquid. Recipes that require baking soda will usually also list lemon juice, cream of tartar or buttermilk as an ingredient.

Baking powder is also a leavening agent. But it contains not only sodium bicarbonate (basic) but also an acidic ingredient. In this case, the only extra ingredient needed for your baked goods to rise is a liquid. Baking powder creates two separate reactions: first, when combined with room-temperature liquid, then, once the mixture is heated.

Baking Soda VS Baking Powder

Baking powder and baking soda are different types of leavening agents. While baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate and requires an acidic ingredient and a liquid to work, baking powder only needs a liquid. Trading baking powder for baking soda in a recipe won’t require additional ingredients, but if you only have baking powder and your recipe calls for baking soda, you will need to use about three times as much powder.