How to Make DIY Baking Powder (Just 3 Ingredients!)

Are you currently in the middle of a recipe and just realized you don’t have baking powder? Or are you concerned about the ingredients in store-bought baking powder? If this is you, look no further! In this DIY baking powder tutorial, I’ll show you how to make healthy and effective baking powder with a couple of basic kitchen ingredients.

glass jar of homemade baking powder made with cream of tartar, baking soda, and arrowroot powder or cornstarch.

This post was updated in July 2024.

Welcome, bakers! This is a guest post from Amelia of Home is for Simple. She’s sharing with us her quick recipe for DIY baking powder. You can whip it together in just a few seconds! Missing an ingredient? No worries! Keep scrolling to find alternatives to ensure your bake goes off perfectly!

Like many people, I stumbled upon DIY baking powder out of desperation. I was in the middle of whipping up a batch of fluffy chocolate chip cookies when I hit the line item “baking powder.”

I suddenly remembered that I was completely out of this important baking staple. So, as any chef would do, I turned to Google. I was pleasantly surprised to find that making your own baking powder is incredibly easy!

The baking powder came together quickly and my cookies did not disappoint.

What is Baking Powder?

Baking powder is a common leavening agent used in your favorite baking recipes. It is regularly used in cakes, quick breads, vanilla muffins, blood orange scones, and more to add a light, airy texture.

Without it, your muffins will stay short and dense, and your cakes will have an unpleasant texture. No, thanks!

spoonful of diy baking powder made from cream of tartar, arrowroot powder, and baking soda.
pantry staples list

Baking powder is a pantry essential!

When your pantry is stocked with the basics, you can assemble simple, nourishing meals with ease. Get my free pantry staples list to help you stock your pantry in no time!

Is baking powder the same as baking soda?

No. Baking powder includes baking soda, but they are not the same thing.

Baking soda is a single-ingredient raising agent, also known as sodium bicarbonate. It must be activated by an acidic ingredient, like buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, etc. This is great for some recipes, but if your recipe does not include an acid, it won’t trigger the reaction.

That’s where baking powder comes in. It has everything you need for that crucial chemical reaction in one spot.

Baking powder contains baking soda with a dry acid (usually cream of tartar) and some sort of starch (usually cornstarch).

With this combination, you can get a nice rise without having to add a liquid acid to your recipes.

However, you’ll also notice that many recipes call for both baking powder and soda. This gives you twice as much leavening for the lightest, fluffiest pancakes, muffins, and more.

Single-acting vs. double-acting baking powder

It is important to note that homemade baking powder is single-acting. In contrast, commercial baking powders are double-acting, which is more forgiving in your baking.

Commercial baking powders (double-acting) often contain a second acid that reacts to heat. So, the baking powder reacts first to liquid, and secondly to heat.

This homemade baking powder substitute only gets the first reaction – the bubbling and fizzing. This is why it’s so important to add the homemade powder right at the end. 

As we’ll discuss later, this does create an important difference between DIY baking powder and store-bought.

Why make your own baking powder?


There are a couple of reasons why you might choose to make homemade baking powder. Maybe you relate to my story above and simply need to scroll to the recipe, mix it up, and get cooking!

Or maybe you’re in another camp (of which I am also a member) that carefully considers every food item that we consume. In this case, the purity of the ingredients in DIY baking powder may draw you in.

Reason 1: Better ingredients

Unfortunately, commercial baking powders often contain aluminum as the second acid. While aluminum does serve its purpose in baking powder, it is not a great substance for humans to ingest. Many studies show a link between aluminum toxicity and diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s.

Secondly, let’s consider corn starch. All commercial baking powders include a starch (usually corn) to prevent caking or reacting between the baking soda and the acids. 

This is very important! However, regular corn starch often comes from genetically modified corn that was sprayed with glyphosate and similar things.

So, if you prefer to eat non-GMO, or want to avoid corn altogether, you’ll be happy to hear that there is a simple way to make baking powder at home without corn or aluminum!

Reason 2: Convenience

As I mentioned, many of us first try a homemade version simply because we run out of it at an inconvenient time. Like with a bowl of already-mixed-up cookie batter waiting for its leavening agent.

When that happens, it’s great to know how to make your own. That way, you can finish your baking without having to run to the store. I’ll even share a handful of variations so that you’re sure to find something that works for you!

diy baking powder

Baking Powder Ingredients

You’ll need these three simple ingredients to make homemade baking powder.

  • Cream of tartar – Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) is a common pantry staple that can be found at most stores. It acts as the acid in your baking powder! 
  • Baking soda – Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) is an alkaline substance that fizzes and produces carbon dioxide bubbles when exposed to acid. It’s a very cheap, everyday ingredient that many of us have on hand for cleaning projects and more.
  • Corn or arrowroot starch (optional, but recommended for storage) –  If you’re planning to store your baking powder for any length of time, you’ll need to add starch. This extends the shelf life of baking powder by preventing caking and reacting. Non-GMO cornstarch and arrowroot starch are great options. 

DIY Baking Powder Recipe

The basic ratio for replacing 1 tsp baking powder in a recipe is:

If you’re simply mixing up a bit of baking powder for a recipe you’re making right away, you’ll only need the first two ingredients: ½ tsp cream of tartar and ¼ tsp baking soda

However, if you plan to store your baking powder, you’ll also need to add starch such as cornstarch or arrowroot starch.

And if you need to make more, just scale the recipe up. The ratio remains the same at 2:1:1 (two parts cream, 1 part soda, and 1 part starch). 

Note: To be very clear (because it matters in baking), if you’re replacing 1 tsp baking powder without the starch, you would only be putting ¾ tsp powder into your recipe. This is because the starch only acts as an anti-caking agent.

diy baking powder recipe

How to Make Your Own Baking Powder

  1. Mix together baking soda and cream of tartar

For every 1 teaspoon of baking powder that your recipe calls for, mix together ½ tsp cream of tartar and ¼ tsp baking soda.

  1. Add starch for a longer shelf life

Secondly, if you won’t be using this entire recipe right away, add a ¼ tsp cornstarch (or arrowroot starch) per 1 tsp baking powder called for in the recipe.

If you include the starch in your homemade baking powder, you have a 1:1 substitute for store-bought baking powder. This makes it incredibly easy to use in future recipes!

  1. Incorporate gently into your recipe, and bake immediately

As we discussed earlier, DIY baking powder is single-acting and reacts quickly with the liquid in your recipe. For this reason, follow these tips:

  • Add baking powder last to your batter
  • Incorporate gently
  • Bake promptly

Saving the baking powder for last allows you to get your goodies into the oven while the baking powder is still reacting with the liquid in your batter. Don’t feel rushed, you do have some time! Just don’t let your batter sit for longer than necessary.

Mixing gently allows your batter to retain the wonderful bubbles created by the baking powder. This will produce a more desirable texture in your baking!

Once you have your baking powder stirred into your batter, simply bake as usual.

Storing Suggestions

For longer storage, be sure to include either cornstarch or arrowroot powder as described above and store in an airtight container or jar in a cool, dry place for about one month.

Check for freshness

Baking powder is a key ingredient in your recipes and must be fresh to work properly.

conducting the fizz test for homemade baking powder.

“Fizz test” for baking powder

In order to test if your baking powder is active (and will do its job in your baking), perform the “fizz test.” You can do this with your homemade baking powder or with old baking powder from the grocery store. It’s incredibly important to use fresh, active baking powder for the best rise!

Simply drop 1 tsp baking powder into ⅓ cup of hot water.

If it fizzes, it is active! It’s an immediate reaction that you will hear and see. If it doesn’t it would be better to whip up a fresh batch.

You can also do this test with baking soda like this:

  • Mix ⅓ cup of hot water with ½ tsp white vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • Drop ¼ tsp baking soda into the mixture
  • If it fizzes, it is active. If it doesn’t, it’s time to buy some fresh stuff.

Helpful Tips

Here are my top tips to ensure success with your DIY baking powder.

  • Remember that it is single acting – The most important difference between this DIY baking powder and store-bought baking powder is that it is single-acting. It only reacts once, when it hits the liquid in your batter. Because of this, be sure to mix it into your batter last, and stir gently to retain bubbles. Finally, place it into the oven promptly after mixing it in.
  • Test your baking powder – In order to make sure that your baking powder will be effective, you could test your baking soda before starting this recipe. However, if you know that your baking soda is fresh, you can disregard this step. If you choose to store some DIY baking powder for later use, be sure to check it with the “fizz test” before baking with it.
cream of tartar substitutes like yogurt, vinegar, lemon juice, sour milk, and more.

Substitutes for cream of tartar

The only downside to this recipe is that cream of tartar is quite possibly less common in your pantry than baking powder. You’ve probably used it for making snickerdoodles or meringues, but not much else.

So, if you don’t have time to pick up this key ingredient from the store, here are some effective substitutes.

The principle is that you’ll need to use something acidic in order to get the desired leavening effect. I’ll list them in order of how common they are.

Vinegar or lemon juice

First off, let’s look at a few acidic ingredients that you likely have in your kitchen: vinegar or lemon juice.

This will be a 1:1 substitute. So, use ½ tsp vinegar or lemon juice in place of the ½ tsp cream of tartar.

For most recipes, this small amount of acid should not affect the flavor. However, if you’d rather not throw these tangy juices into your sweet baking, you have other options.

Yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk

Another great substitute for cream of tartar in homemade baking powder is yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk. These fermented dairy products are acidic and will create the desired reaction with your baking soda.

For yogurt or sour cream, replace the ½ tsp cream of tartar with ½ cup yogurt or sour cream, thinned out with milk if necessary. Plain yogurt works best. Also, be sure to decrease the other liquid in your recipe accordingly.

If you are using buttermilk, simply replace the ½ tsp cream of tartar with ½ cup buttermilk. Again, decrease the other liquid in your recipe by ½ cup.

Soured milk

Another good substitute option is to use soured milk. If you have raw milk on hand, you could leave it out at room temperature for about 24 hours. Wait until it is a bit sour, but not separated into curds and whey.

However, if you’re reading this post in a pinch, you likely don’t have 24 hours to spare.

So if you’d like to use soured milk, but you don’t have raw milk OR don’t you want to wait till tomorrow to bake, here’s how you can make a quick version:

  • Mix 1 cup milk (pasteurized or raw) with 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • Let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes

That’s it! Then use it in the same way as buttermilk or yogurt in this recipe. Replace the ½ tsp cream of tartar with ½ cup soured milk, and decrease the other liquid in your recipe by ½ cup.

Leave it out

Now, I include this option as an honest recommendation from experience. Though this is not proper baking advice, I’ve done it in a pinch.

For simple things like pancakes, I have used ⅓ tsp baking soda as a replacement for 1 tsp baking powder. With things like pancakes, I haven’t noticed much of a difference.

For recipes like cake or fluffy cookies, you would certainly notice a difference, though.

Related Posts

jar of homemade baking powder next to wooden spoon.
diy baking powder

DIY Baking Powder

With this simple DIY baking powder, you can keep baking even when you run out of baking powder. This is a great recipe for
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Course Baking
Servings 1 tsp
Calories 6 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Mix together baking soda and cream of tartar.
  • Add starch to extend shelf life.
  • Mix gently into your recipe and bake promptly.

Notes

The most important difference between this DIY baking powder and store-bought baking powder is that it is single-acting. It only reacts once, when it hits the liquid in your batter.
Because of this, be sure to mix it into your batter last, and stir gently to retain bubbles. Finally, place it into the oven promptly after mixing it in.

Nutrition

Calories: 6kcalCarbohydrates: 1gSodium: 274mgPotassium: 248mgCalcium: 0.1mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword baking powder, diy baking powder
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About the Author

Amelia is the creator and writer of the blog Home is for Simple. She loves sharing nourishing recipes and non-toxic living tips with her readers. She is a stay-at-home mama of two sweet little girls and a wife to her college sweetheart hubby.

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8 Comments

  1. I never thought about making my own baking powder. I’ve been looking into a healthier lifestyle recently and really enjoy your blog posts. 🙂

  2. I never thought about any of this. To be fair, I’m not a baker. We’ll not discuss the multiple brownie failures.

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