Hi Linda, Can I substitute baking soda for baking powder and vice versa? Thanks, Toni

Dear Toni,


Do you want the long or the short answer?  ;-)  The short answer is “not very well” but you can make an O.K. substitute for one of them.


Baking powder: To make 1 teaspoon of baking powder use ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon cream of tartar and ¼ teaspoon of cornstarch. If you don’t have cream of tartar then double the cornstarch. It’s not perfect, it is not double acting, but it will work.

Baking soda: Substituting baking powder for baking soda is not recommended. However, there is information that you can replace ½ teaspoon of soda with 2 teaspoons of baking powder AND replace the acidic liquid (such as buttermilk) with a non-acidic liquid.  Success may be very limited and flavors will be changed.


The entire subject is quite scientific and has to do with acid and alkaline foods and some other components.  I think the folks over at Serious Eats did a good job of explaining the difference. Check them out if you want to learn more.



Happy Cooking,

LindaLinda B&W 2

Previous Questions

Dear Linda, Do I need to preheat my oven? Thank you, Katie

Hi Katie,


Well, what are you doing?


Typically if you are baking foods such as breads, cakes, pies, cookies, etc you should preheat your oven. These foods typically contain a leavening ingredient such as yeast, baking soda or baking powder that will react to heat. You may not get the rise you wanted if you do not preheat.  Additionally, preheating will give a crispy crust on breads and pies and give cookies that are crispy on the outside, yet still chewy on the inside. If your oven is still preheating while you put in foods such as refrigerated rolls and frozen pizza you risk your bottoms being burned and the tops not being cooked. Really quite a mess.


When broiling it is important to preheat the element to sear the meat, seal in the juices and prevent that unappetizing greyish color – yuck.


For things likes roasts or casseroles it is not important – just adjust your cooking time for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.


If you are taking leftovers out of the refrigerator and the (non-metal) dish is cold and you put it into a hot oven you risk cracking the dish.  I either let my leftovers come to room temperature or place them in a cold oven and turn on to reheat. This way the dish and the oven heat simultaneously.


Lastly, if you want to adventure into the area of persnickety recipes such as soufflés, you need to preheat your oven your oven at least 20 minutes. This way you are thoroughly heating the walls of the oven to temperature not just the air in the oven box. Once you open the oven door to place your soufflés inside your oven will not take much time to recover to the proper temperature.


Happy Cooking,


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