Can I Use Yeast Instead of Baking Powder?

Yeast is a leavening agent. Baking powder is also a leavening agent. This leaves many to believe that they can be used interchangeably in recipes, from bread to cookies and beyond. 

While it is absolutely possible to use yeast instead of baking powder, I don’t necessarily recommend it. Because not only will it take much longer to make your beloved treat, but the texture and flavor will change somewhat. 

Unless you’re following along with a recipe intended for yeast rather than baking soda, I suggest using other baking powder substitutes, like self-rising flour or a lemon juice and baking soda mixture. 

Hey! I’m Michelle, and I’ve spent too much time in my kitchen. No complaints, though; it’s my favorite thing to do. During my baking journey, I’ve tried lots of different swaps, and while it’s OK to use yeast in place of baking powder, I think there are far better substitutions.

Let’s learn!

Can I Use Yeast Instead of Baking Powder?

You can use yeast instead of baking powder in your recipe. In fact, some people may prefer the texture and flavor of yeast compared to baking powder.

However, it’s important to note that while baking powder and yeast are both leavening agents, they work differently.

  • Yeast is a live organism that feeds on sugars, expelling carbon dioxide to allow bread dough to rise correctly.
  • Baking powder is a chemical leavening agent that produces carbon dioxide when exposed to moisture in batters.

How to Use Yeast Instead of Baking Powder

If you’re gung-ho about making a treat using yeast instead of baking powder, you need to know how to do it properly. It’s not as easy as mixing ingredients and plopping your pan into the oven. There are a few extra steps that need to take place.

Step 1: Activate Yeast (If Using Active Yeast)

If you’re using active yeast for your goodies (like this tasty cookie recipe), you must first activate it in water. The best temperature for “activation” is between 105F and 115F. 

If you use temperatures under 105F, your yeast may not activate, or it will take a painstakingly long amount of time to do so. If the water temperature exceeds 115F, you run the risk of killing your active yeast, rendering it useless.

Allow the yeast to sit for around ten minutes before adding the remaining ingredients.

If you’re using instant or RapidRise yeast (like this yummy yeast lemon cake), you do not need to activate it. 

Step 2: Mix Ingredients 

Now that your yeast is activated (or you took the easy route and went with instant yeast), it’s time to start mixing!

  • Add instant yeast to your dry ingredients.
  • Add activated yeast at the end after mixing the dry and wet ingredients.

Step 3: Let the Batter Rise

Just like when baking bread, you will need to let your batter “rise” before baking it. To do so, simply leave your batter in the mixing bowl or place it into the baking pan. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour (or longer, if desired).

You can leave your batter on the countertop on a warm day. If it’s too cold, consider stashing the bowl or pan inside the oven. Do not turn the oven on, though.

Step 4: Bake as Usual

When your batter has risen, it’s time for the final step: baking! Make sure your batter is poured out of the mixing bowl into the correct baking pan. Then, bake as usual.

Keep in mind that the texture and flavor may be altered when using yeast instead of baking powder, which is why I don’t recommend using it as a substitute unless you absolutely have to. However, although the results will be different, they should still be marvelous to munch on!

4 Substitutes for Baking Powder

Are you considering using yeast instead of baking powder because you’ve run out of baking powder? Before you opt for yeast, consider one of these better and much easier to work with substitutions.

1. Baking Soda + Lemon Juice

Unlike baking powder, baking soda requires an acidic ingredient to function correctly. In this case, the acidic ingredient is lemon juice.

Keep in mind that this substitute should only be used in small quantities. Otherwise, your recipe may end up overly sour and lemony (which, in my opinion, isn’t exactly a bad thing – I love lemon desserts!).

To swap baking soda and lemon juice for a teaspoon of baking powder, you will need to add ¼ teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients, followed by ½ teaspoon lemon juice to the wet ingredients. Then, mix and bake as usual. Viola!

2. Baking Soda + Vinegar

I don’t always have lemons or lemon juice on hand, but one thing I (and most others) have on hand religiously is white vinegar. Vinegar is another acidic ingredient that will give your baking soda a helping hand for leavening.

You will add vinegar the same way you add lemon juice. 

Vinegar is the better choice if you’re concerned about the sour lemon flavor overpowering your recipe – as long as you’re using white vinegar. Other types of vinegar, like apple cider vinegar, have more robust flavors that can take over the treat.

3. Club Soda

You can always use club soda if you don’t have baking soda or baking powder on hand. This is a simple swap – just replace the liquid ingredient (milk, water, etc.) with club soda. It works like a charm!

4. Self-Rising Flour

Did you know that self-rising flour already has baking powder (and salt) mixed into it? This makes it a very handy type of flour to have on board. Just swap the all-purpose flour for self-rising flour and omit the baking powder altogether. 

FAQs

Pretty interesting stuff, huh? Who’d have thought you could use yeast instead of baking powder in goodies like cookies and cakes. If you want to keep learning about this unique topic, check out these commonly asked questions.

How much yeast do I use instead of baking powder?

You should typically be able to swap yeast for baking powder in a 1:1 ratio. So, if your cake recipe calls for two teaspoons of baking powder, you will use two teaspoons of instant yeast instead.

Can I use yeast to bake a cake?

Yes, you can use yeast rather than baking powder for baking a cake. In fact, there are recipes dedicated to using yeast rather than baking powder. So, if you’re craving cake and only have yeast on hand, consider searching for a “yeast cake” and follow the instructions.

Can I use yeast instead of baking powder for banana bread?

You can use yeast instead of baking powder for banana bread, but you will need to knead the dough and allow it to rise before baking, which can be a nuisance if you’re short on time. The results may be altered somewhat, too.

Final Words

You can successfully swap yeast for baking powder, but I don’t necessarily recommend it. Unless you’re following a recipe that intends to use yeast rather than baking powder, I suggest using another swap for baking powder like club soda or baking soda and white vinegar.

Do you bake using yeast instead of baking powder? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Comment below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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