Yeast Substitute

Step Rhubarb Buns
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  • Prep Time
    2 min
  • Cook Time
    0 min
  • Total Time
    2 min
  • Yield

Are you out of yeast or turned off by the price? Here's how to make an effective and inexpensive yeast substitute.

The caveat is that there is no true replacement for yeast. This substitute of baking soda and lemon juice will produce carbon dioxide bubbles that will cause your baked goods to rise. It may be good enough for some baked goods, such as pizza dough and quickbreads. But yeast are microorganisms that digest the sugars in the dough as well as releasing carbon dioxide. They produce changes in the makeup of the dough that you won't get with this substitute. Wild yeasts in sourdough starter, for example, provide many flavor elements in addition to adding carbon dioxide into the dough.

Some people are sensitive to yeast and want to eliminate it as much as possible from their diet. This substitution may work for some baked goods. In general, the results will have a coarser texture than yeast would produce.


  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice (or you can use buttermilk instead or a mixture of milk and vinegar)
  • Alternative: Double-acting baking powder


Using Baking Soda and Lemon Juice as a Yeast Alternative

Baking soda needs to react to an acid in order to release carbon dioxide. You may have recipes that use baking soda instead of yeast, and usually these are ones that already have an acidic dough. But you'll need to have an acid such as lemon juice, buttermilk, or milk with equal parts vinegar to provide the acid for the reaction.

  • Add all ingredients according to the recipe.
  • Then, add in equal parts baking soda and lemon juice to equal the amount of yeast called for in the recipe. If you are going to use one teaspoon of yeast, add a half teaspoon of baking soda and a half teaspoon of lemon juice.
  • The dough does not need to rise when you are using baking soda and lemon juice. In fact, you need to add them in last and then bake immediately for the reaction to work properly.
  • Bake as usual.
  • For best results, use fresh baking soda.
  • You will want to experiment with this technique in order to get the best results for each recipe. You may need more or less baking soda and acid.

Using Double-Acting Baking Powder as a Yeast Alternative

Baking powder already has an acid included so you don't have to add lemon juice in order for the reaction to produce carbon dioxide. Double-acting baking powder produces the gas twice - first when it is mixed with the liquid elements of the recipe, and again when it is heated.

Be sure to use fresh baking powder. Test a little in some water and see if you get any bubbles immediately.