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What's the difference between baking powder, yeast, and baking soda?

July 16, 2022
Baking powder is a leavening agent, which means it causes baked goods to rise. It is made of baking soda, an acid-like cream of tartar, and cornstarch. Baking soda is a leavening agent that reacts with an acidic ingredient in the recipe to create bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. Baking soda reacts with buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, or lemon juice to create those bubbles. Yeast is a living organism that converts the sugar in the dough into carbon dioxide and alcohol. It does this by releasing enzymes that break down starches into sugars. Yeast needs warmth, water, and sugar for food to grow and reproduce.

We usually encounter three common baking ingredients in the process of baking: baking powder, yeast, and baking soda. Because they are both types of leavening agents, baking powder, yeast, and baking soda are often confused and often confused with each other in baking recipes.

Baked bread, steamed buns...Which one should I choose? In fact, while baking powder, yeast, and baking soda may have similar effects, they are very different in nature and can have very different effects if used accidentally!

Baking soda

Baking Soda

Baking Soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is one of the most commonly used leavening agents in baked goods. Baking soda is often used to make quick-baked goods, such as western pancakes, muffins, scones, cakes, and even some fried foods. It can also be used to make Chinese steamed buns, fritters, and more.

Baking Soda can be used for baking goods

Because of the alkaline chemical composition of baking soda, when it is mixed with an acid, it creates small bubbles of gaseous carbon dioxide. In addition to baking, baking soda can increase the pH of the dough and weaken the gluten, resulting in soft-tasting baked goods. Baking soda is about four times stronger than baking powder, so recipes generally call for only a small amount of baking soda. If too much baking soda is used, it can create a metallic aftertaste.

When to use baking soda?

Western Baking: pancakes, muffins, scones, cakes

Chinese Cuisine: Steamed buns, can also be used as meat tenderizer powder for marinating meat, but the meat needs to be rinsed after marinating.

Small Tips: In addition to being used for cooking, Baking Soda is also a good helper for household cleaning! Perfect for cleaning faucets, dirt, and more! It can also be used to prevent the odor in the refrigerator from being put into the refrigerator!

Baking Powder

Baking Powder is a formulated leavening agent, a mixture of ingredients including baking soda, cream of tartar, and cornstarch. Baking powder can be used alone or mixed. While baking powder and yeast leaven in a similar way, they work very differently. One is a chemical reaction and the other is a biological reaction.

Baking Powder

It should be noted that when we buy baking powder, there will be formulas containing aluminum and aluminum-free. If you want to avoid aluminum, you must choose aluminum free. In addition, when adding baking powder, you can't add more, it must be appropriate, and it will have a bitter taste if you add more.

When to use Baking Powder?

Western Baking: Cakes

Chinese food: steamed sponge cakes, steamed buns, steamed buns, shortcakes, fried dough sticks


Yeast Yeast should be the most commonly used starter when everyone cooks! The deliciousness of many Chinese meals is inseparable from yeast. Yeast is made up of small, single-celled organisms that consume sugar and expel carbon dioxide. Through this biological reaction, the fermentation of the dough takes place. Yeast can be fresh or dry, and we usually buy dry yeast in the supermarket. To activate dry yeast and allow it to "wake up," it needs to be combined with warm liquid to hydrate it, and sugar to help ferment.

Yeast can be used when making bread and steamed buns

When baking bread and making steamed buns, yeast can help strengthen the elasticity of the dough, making the bread chewier and softer.The dry yeast we buy in the supermarket is usually divided into Instant dry yeast and Active dry yeast. Instant dry yeast is usually more convenient to use. If you are making pasta such as steamed buns at home, I highly recommend Angel's yeast, the effect is very good and the price of small packets is very cost-effective!

When to use Yeast?

Western Baking: Bread

Chinese food: steamed bread, bread cake

The difference between Yeast and Baking Powder, Baking Soda Baking Soda

Although baking soda, baking powder, and yeast all produce carbon dioxide gas and leave the dough, there are many differences. Baking soda is a simple base, so it needs to be combined with an acid, such as yogurt, lemon, or vinegar, to be activated. Baking soda is generally used in quick baking recipes due to the rapidity of the bubbles created by the reaction of acid plus sodium bicarbonate. Yeast is different from both baking soda and baking powder, mainly because it's a living organism that takes longer to ferment dough. In terms of use, baking powder is usually used for baking cakes, biscuits, etc., while yeast is mainly used for baking bread and steaming buns.

Photo credit to Unsplash


In general, if we usually like to make steamed buns and other noodles for Chinese food, we only need to prepare yeast! But if you're interested in baking cookies and more, baking powder is also a must!