What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder? We know that both will leaven/rise our baked good, but why are their even two options? They cannot be the same, can they? Let’s take a closer look into each one and figure out when each is best.

baking soda vs. baking powder

What is a leavener?

A leavener helps a batter rise by incorporating tiny air bubbles into the mixture. Chemical leaveners such as baking soda and baking powder, release carbon dioxide gas when heated. The water in the batter will release steam which will expand the air bubbles, rising the baked treat.

Baking Soda

Is the base for all chemical leaveners (yep, baking powder has baking soda in it). Baking soda will help spread and brown your treat. So when you like your chocolate chip cookies to be golden and a little crispy on the outside, use baking soda.

Baking soda needs both an acid and a liquid to react. When baking soda is mixed with an acid it also produces more water molecules, making your treat even more moist. Baking soda also has a salty flavor which will add to the overall flavor profile of your treat.

Baking Powder

This is made up of baking soda and a chemical acid, like cream of tartar. That means that it only needs water to react, but it also means that it is diluted baking soda so it is not as strong. In fact, baking powder is 4x weaker than baking soda.

It is important to mix baking powder with the dry ingredients first so that it reacts in the heat of the oven and not right away at mixing. The more acid in your mixture, the stronger the baking powder reaction will be.

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