Is baking powder the same as cornstarch? Can you use them to substitute one another?
Despite their nearly identical appearances, cornstarch and baking powder are completely different!
Baking powder is more complex and contains multiple ingredients. Let us pretend to be mad scientists for a moment and talk about acids and bases. But don’t worry, I won’t harm your brain!
*By the way, you might be interested in my recent article on Whether You Can Use Baking Powder Instead of Cornstarch.
Is Baking Powder the Same as Cornstarch?
Is baking powder the same as corn starch? Baking powder and cornstarch are not the same thing. Baking powder is a leavening agent, which means it creates air bubbles in the batter, causing the cake to rise. Cornstarch is a thickening agent used to make puddings and pie fillings thicker.
Cornstarch is a handy ingredient to have on hand. I enjoy making pies with various fillings such as apple, blueberry, and lemon (which is my husband’s absolute favorite!)
When my fillings become too loose for my liking, I add cornstarch to help thicken them up because its primary function is to thicken liquids.
Cornstarch is made from the starches of corn kernels, so any protein and fibers have been removed to create this refined, starchy powder.
What makes baking powder work is a combination of a base (typically sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda) and an acid (usually cream of tartar). When these two elements come together, a reaction occurs.
Take, for example, vinegar and baking soda. If you put baking soda in a bowl and pour vinegar over it, it will expand and fizz!
The reaction was caused by the combination of the acid (in this case vinegar) and the base (baking soda), and you can see bubbles forming and expanding visually. When we use baking powder in a recipe, we get the same reaction.
Baking powder is used in baking as a leavening agent to give desserts height.
Baking powder contains both an acid and a base in the form of dry ingredients. This enables us to store it in our pantries without it reacting on its own.
The timer starts ticking once we mix baking powder into our wet ingredients! Baking powder will gradually begin to activate, forming bubbles that will allow our cakes to rise and impress all of your guests!
Is it possible to substitute cornstarch for baking powder?
They’re both powdery, white substances used in cooking that have a similar appearance and feel. Is that to say they’re interchangeable? Certainly not.
The primary distinction between the two is that cornstarch is a thickening agent used in a wide range of recipes, including gravies, sauces, pies, and even ice cream, whereas baking powder is a leavening agent.
When combined with other ingredients, they serve entirely different functions and are not interchangeable.
While they are excellent choices for their respective purposes, they would be poor choices if switched. Cornstarch and baking powder cannot be used as leaveners or thickeners, respectively.
Because baking powder is made of cornstarch, you might think it can be used in its place. Regrettably, this is not the case.
The amount of cornstarch in baking powder is insufficient to produce the desired thickening effect as actual cornstarch. In addition, using a lot of baking powder in your recipe will give your food a bitter, sour, and salty flavor.
Here are some of the best cornstarch substitutes:
Although potato starch’s thickening properties do not last long after baking, it can be a good choice for foods that you intend to eat right away.
Potato starch has a delicate flavor and is ideal for sauces because it is made by crushing potatoes to release their starch content, which is then dried into a powder.
When replacing cornstarch, use 1 tbsp potato starch for 1 tbsp cornstarch. Just be careful when whisking it because it clumps up more than cornstarch.
Rice flour, which is made from finely ground rice, is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisines for desserts, soups, and rice noodles.
It is naturally gluten-free and can act as a thickening agent in most recipes, making it an excellent substitute for cornstarch.
It is especially useful for clear liquids because it is colorless when mixed in water. When used in place of cornstarch, however, it is recommended to use twice as much to achieve the same results.
What Can You Use in Place of Baking Powder?
Baking powder is a leavening agent that is commonly used in baking. If you run out of baking powder and need it for a recipe, you can substitute it with another leavening agent that has the same effect.
You can even make your own baking powder at home with just three ingredients: baking soda, cornstarch, and cream of tartar.
While there are several great alternatives to baking powder, it is important to consider the flavor profile of your finished baked good when choosing the best one.
Depending on what you use as a substitute, you may need to adjust the other ingredients in your recipe.
Baking powder and baking soda are frequently confused, with many people believing they are the same thing. The latter is made up entirely of sodium bicarbonate and lacks an acid component.
As a result, baking soda must be combined with an acid to have the same effect as baking powder as a leavening agent.
Here are some of the best baking powder substitutes:
Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product that tastes like plain yogurt. Because buttermilk is acidic, combining it with baking soda produces the same leavening effect as baking powder.
12 cup buttermilk mixed with 14 teaspoon baking soda can be used in place of 1 teaspoon baking powder.
Because this will increase the liquid content of your recipe, make sure to reduce the amount of other liquids you add to maintain the desired texture and consistency.
Despite its strong flavor, vinegar is a common baking ingredient, and when combined with baking soda, it works well as a leavening agent in cakes and cookies.
Because apple cider vinegar can change the color and flavor of your dish, it is best to use white vinegar, which has a more neutral flavor.
Use 12 tsp vinegar mixed with 14 tsp baking soda to replace 1 tsp baking powder in your recipe.
When combined with baking soda, lemon juice is highly acidic and provides just the right amount to cause an acid-base reaction in baked goods.
However, due to the strong flavor of lemon juice, it is best to use it only in recipes that call for a small amount of baking powder.
This way, you can enjoy its leavening properties without affecting the flavor of your final dish.
1 tsp baking powder can be replaced with 12 tsp lemon juice and 14 tsp baking soda.