Is cornstarch and baking powder the same? You need baking powder in your recipe but all you have in your pantry is cornstarch. I know they look and feel the same, and it’s tempting to just add it in and move on to the next step.
However, even though baking powder contains cornstarch, it cannot be used in place of cornstarch and vice versa.
In this article, I’ll explain what baking powder and cornstarch are, whether they’re the same, and how you might be able to substitute one for the other.
Let’s start baking!
Is Cornstarch and Baking Powder the Same?
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!
*Side Note: If you’re curious, I wrote an article about it, which you can find here! Can I Substitute Cornstarch for Baking Powder.
What Is the Difference Between Cornstarch and Baking Powder?
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!
Can Cornstarch be used in place of Baking Powder?
Can you use cornstarch instead of baking powder? Cornstarch cannot be used to replace baking powder, but it can be used to make baking powder. Here’s a simple homemade baking powder recipe I like to use:
- 2 tbsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp corn starch
4 teaspoons baking powder is produced by this recipe.
Can Baking Powder be used in place of cornstarch?
Can baking powder substitute cornstarch? Because baking powder contains cornstarch, you might think it can be used as a substitute. This, unfortunately, is not the case.
The amount of cornstarch in baking powder is insufficient to produce the same thickening effect as regular cornstarch.
Even if you add it in larger amounts, the taste of your food will be greatly affected because the other ingredients in baking powder give it a bitter, slightly salty, and sour flavor.
What can I use in place of cornstarch?
Depending on the function of cornstarch in your recipe, you may require a different substitute. Cornstarch is commonly used as a thickening agent in baking and cooking, but it can be substituted with potato starch, arrowroot flour, rice flour, and other similar starches.
What can be substituted for baking powder?
Baking powder acts as a leavening agent in baked goods. You can use another leavening agent, such as baking soda, to achieve the same effect. You can also make your own baking powder using this straightforward recipe.