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You’re all ready to make the most perfect batch of cookies, when you suddenly realize: oh no! I don’t have baking soda!
So now you’re looking up, “can you make cookies without baking soda?” and panicking and I just want to say that, yes, while it’s an important ingredient, we’re going to make it through!
Baking is more of a science than an art that doesn’t always let you just easily substitute things, so we’re going to go over the function of baking soda in cookies, why we use baking soda in cookies, what will happen if you leave baking soda out of cookies, and what you should substitute for baking soda in your cookie recipe.
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How does baking soda affect cookies?
It’s most important to understand what baking soda actually is and what it does in cookies.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is basically a chemical compound that needs an acid paired with it to activate (for example, buttermilk).
This is different from baking powder, which does not need an acid to activate.
Baking soda will look like a very fine white powder, and it actually is a lot more potent than baking powder.
You can’t just do a straight swap of baking powder for baking soda because of their different properties.
Baking soda does help your cookies to rise a bit (this is due to the gas bubbles that come from the chemical interaction between the baking soda and the acid), and it actually helps them spread out a bit to give you a chewier cookie.
I remember the “spread” from baking soda versus the “puff” in baking powder because “soda” = “s” = “spread” and “powder” = “p” = “puff.”
Often, you’ll find baking soda in chocolate chip cookies as chocolate and brown sugar (both in chocolate chip cookies) will help activate the baking soda.
Can you make cookies without baking soda?
Is it even possible to make cookies if you don’t have baking soda?
The great answer is, yes! It is possible.
You can make cookies without baking soda, and many recipes don’t even ask for it.
However, if your cookie recipe asks for baking soda and you leave it out, they will still come out as cookies, but they’ll have a different denseness and texture than if you had used it.
What would happen if you leave baking soda out of your cookies?
Your cookies, if you make them without baking soda when the recipe asks for it, will basically be incredibly dense.
This is because there won’t be any gas bubbles from the chemical reaction to give them any rise or lift at all, and they may be even flatter than you intended.
What can you use instead of baking soda in cookies?
There are some baking soda substitutes in cookies that you can use to try and replicate the process, though they won’t always be an exact match.
The best way is to actually use three times the amount of baking powder.
Baking powder is not as potent as baking soda, so if we triple the amount of baking powder in our recipe, we can basically imitate the property of baking soda.
If you don’t have baking powder either, there are some other ways:
- club soda
- potassium bicarbonate
- baker’s ammonia
- egg whites
Exactly how to make cookies without baking soda
To recap exactly what you can do if you don’t have baking soda and need to make cookies, here what’s you can do.
1. Go ahead and leave the baking soda out
There are some cookies where you can just go ahead and leave the baking soda out completely and still find that they taste okay.
You’ll end up with a denser cookie, but if you’re in a hurry, you can usually still get away with it and the taste will still be like a cookie, though the texture will be different.
This definitely doesn’t work as well in cakey cookies, but can work okay in things like drop cookies or cut-out cookies.
2. Use a recipe that already doesn’t use baking soda
If you don’t have baking soda as an ingredient, the easiest way to still make great cookies is to use a recipe that is already formulated to not include baking soda.
There are plenty, from cake mix cookies (delicious) to crinkle cookies and even “regular” sugar cookies sometimes.
This way, you won’t have to worry about substituting anything or worrying about the results and can just make the cookie recipe as stated without needing baking soda.
3. Try one of the baking soda substitutes
If you have baking powder, triple that in the recipe in place of baking soda, or try using one of the baking soda substitutes in cookies listed above.
Again, unlike an ingredient like say, flour, that must be in your cookie recipe or there’s not even a cookie there, baking soda is one of those ingredients that places an important role in the recipe, but can be left out if you’re willing to risk the different texture.
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