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What Does Baking Soda Do in Cookies & Can You Substitute It?

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Scroll through cookie recipes and you’ll notice one ingredient that appears again and again: baking soda. This ingredient is absolutely crucial when it comes to how to bake cookies. But what does baking soda do in cookies? How does it work and what happens if you don’t put baking soda in cookies? In this guide, we’ll cover all you need to know about baking soda in cookies.


What Is Baking Soda and How Does it Work in Cookies?

Before we look at some of the common questions people have, like “Can you substitute baking powder for baking soda in cookies?” or “What happens if I forgot baking soda in cookies?” let’s start with the basics. What exactly is baking soda, and what does baking soda do in cookies to make them so tasty and irresistible?

Baking soda, otherwise known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate, is a key household ingredient with many uses. It’s essentially a mineral, made up of sodium and bicarbonate ions. It’s also known as a “leavener”, which refers to an ingredient that helps dough or batter to rise.
Leaveners are just as important, if not more important than sugar in baking cookies and cakes because they’re the ingredients that make your favorite baked goods rise up and become fluffy and soft.

In other words, baking soda is crucial for cookies, because it gives them their unique texture.
How does it work? Well, in order to actually activate and produce the desired results, baking soda needs to be combined with an acid. In baking, acids like lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk may be used. When the two ingredients combine, the soda produces carbon dioxide, making bubbles in the batter that cause it to rise.


baking soda in cookies

What Happens if You Don’t Put Baking Soda in Cookies?

We’ve seen the purpose of baking soda in cookies, but what happens if you leave it out? Many people prepare their mixture, use cookie cutters to cut the shapes, and put their cookie dough balls into the oven before they realize that they forgot baking soda in the cookies.

Well, if this happens, it’s likely that you’ll be pretty disappointed with the final result, as your cookies may end up feeling flat and even having a soapy, metallic, unpleasant taste.

Why does this happen? Well, it’s because soda is the most important ingredient for giving your cookies their texture. If you fail to add a teaspoon of baking soda or however much your recipe needs, the cookies won’t have those bubbles inside them to rise up. If you forget to add the acid, too, the baking soda won’t be able to react or produce carbon dioxide.

What Happens if you Double Baking Soda in Cookies?

Since the purpose of baking soda in cookies is to help them rise, you might think that you can just add lots of soda and get super big, fluffy cookies. However, it doesn’t quite work that way. If you add too much baking soda to cookies, they can rise too much, leading to a coarse and unpleasant texture. Even the taste can be affected, becoming soapy and unenjoyable.

So try not to use too much baking soda in cookies and always follow the recipe.

baking soda substitute

Tips to Remember When Using Baking Soda in Cookies

Now that you understand a bit more about baking soda and cookies, it should be easier to understand how and why this ingredient should be used. Next, let’s look at a few tips and tricks you can count on to get the best results in cookie recipes that use baking soda:

  • Mix Quickly – When using baking soda, you have to act fast. Mix the ingredients quickly and get them in the oven as soon as you can, while the baking soda is still reacting. If you wait too long, the soda won’t have much of an effect and your cookies will end up flat.
  • Add a Bit of Baking Powder – If you want really chewy, fluffy cookies, you might also want to mix a little baking powder in with the mixture. It works in a slightly different way from baking soda and the two ingredients can produce amazing results when used together.
  • Follow the Recipe – Whenever you use a cookie recipe that involves baking soda, make sure you follow it precisely. Use the recommended measurements of each ingredient and don’t leave anything out, as each ingredient has a part to play.
  • Baking Soda Substitute – How about if you don’t have any baking soda at home when you want to make cookies? Is there a baking soda substitute you could use? Well, it is technically possible to use baking powder instead of baking soda in some recipes and situations. However, you’ll need to know a few things before you proceed.
Follow Jordan River:
Jordan River is an experienced baker with a background in event management. She went into marketing and customer care and started working with JB Cookie Cutters to educate and share her experiences. She’s had her fair share of kitchen and cooking tools and knows exactly what works best and why. Before she started writing, Jordan got a degree in marketing and communications. She is a mom of two, so when she is not writing, she loves cooking and testing new recipes, improvising in the kitchen, and creating unique things that turn into family events.
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