Is baking soda gluten free?
It’s a common baking ingredient that allows baked goods to rise in the oven, and thankfully, it’s perfectly safe for anyone on a gluten free diet.
Keep reading to learn what baking soda is, how it works, and how to test if yours is still good to use.
- What is baking soda?
- Is baking soda gluten free?
- Is baking soda dairy free?
- Baking soda vs. sodium bicarbonate vs. bicarbonate of soda
- Aluminum free baking soda
- The difference between baking soda and baking powder
- How to test if baking soda is still good
- How to use baking soda
- Baking soda substitute
- Recipes using baking soda
What is baking soda?
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a fine white powder that is used commonly in baking.
Its main purpose in baking is to help foods rise. This happens when baking soda reacts with an acid (like chocolate, brown sugar or lemon juice) to produce carbon dioxide bubbles and water. The carbon dioxide bubbles help expand batters/doughs for cakes, cookies and breads.
Based on that description above, baking soda is a chemical leavener that needs an acid to work properly. This is important to note if you want your gluten free recipes to turn out correctly!
Baking soda can also be used to absorb smells. Pop a fresh opened box into your fridge to take away any nasty odors that may be lingering. (Last night’s takeout? Or Monday’s fish dinner?)
Is baking soda gluten free?
Baking soda is made from sodium (salt) and bicarbonate molecules, which means it is naturally gluten free.
It is a single ingredient (sodium bicarbonate) and not derived from wheat or any other gluten-containing grains. This means baking soda is perfectly safe for anyone on a strict gluten free diet! (Which is good news. Because gluten free baking needs all the help it can get from baking soda!)
Is baking soda dairy free?
Yes, baking soda is dairy free! It’s 100% sodium bicarbonate, and does not contain any dairy products.
Baking soda is safe for anyone on a dairy free diet.
Baking soda vs. sodium bicarbonate vs. bicarbonate of soda
You might see sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda listed in some recipes. Are these the same things as baking soda?
Yes, baking soda, sodium bicarbonate and bicarbonate of soda are all the same thing. Depending on where you live, baking soda may go by a different name.
The chemical name for baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, but if you live in the UK, Australia or New Zealand, the term bicarbonate of soda (or bicarb soda) is also used. All three refer to the same thing.
Baking soda is safe for anyone with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance. Here are some brands to choose from when you’re in the baking aisle at the grocery store:
- Arm & Hammer: the classic brand of baking soda! Use it to leaven cakes or take the smells out of a stinky shoe closet! It’s gluten free, no matter which way you use it.
- Bob’s Red Mill: labeled gluten free right on the packaging (although all baking soda is gluten free). This is my preferred brand, specifically because of the resealable bag to keep it fresh!
- Clabber Girl: safe for baking and great for cleaning, too!
- Clubhouse: lots of their spices and baking products are gluten free, including their baking soda.
- Great Value: Wal-Mart’s brand of baking soda.
- Purest: labeled aluminum-free (more on that below) and gluten free.
Aluminum free baking soda
As you’re shopping for baking soda products, you may notice that some are listed as aluminum-free. What’s the deal with that?
It comes from the similarities between baking soda and baking powder. Baking powder contains baking soda, but also a few other ingredients including acidifying agents. Some of those additives can contain aluminum, so looking for an aluminum-free baking powder is important. Not the case for baking soda.
There is no aluminum in baking soda - it should be 100% sodium bicarbonate - so you don’t need to look for aluminum-free on the label. It already is.
The difference between baking soda and baking powder
Did you know that baking soda and baking powder aren’t the same? It’s true! And it’s important to know the differences, because it can save your gluten free baked goods from falling flat…
- Baking soda is 100% sodium bicarbonate. As we’ve learned throughout this post, baking soda needs an acid to do its job and create carbon dioxide bubbles to leaven batter & dough. Important to know because that means you need to add an acid to your recipe in order for baking soda to work. Acidic baking ingredients include: natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed), brown sugar, molasses, yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice & honey.
- Baking powder is baking soda mixed with an acid and a starch. Corn starch is often used, but be sure to always check the product labelling to ensure wheat products are not used in your baking powder. Since baking powder has an acid added to it, it doesn’t need one to work during baking. This means baking powder will work with any recipe, regardless of the ingredients.
So, baking soda needs an acid and baking powder does not. This means if a recipe calls for one ingredient over the other, be sure to use the appropriate leavening agent.
If you use baking soda and there isn’t an acid in the recipe - your baked goods will fall flat.
How to test if baking soda is still good
Baking soda is best stored in a sealed container away from moisture, light and heat.
If baking soda has been sitting in your kitchen cupboard for a while, you can quickly and easily test to see if it will still work:
- Scoop a small amount into a small dish and add in an acidic liquid, like lemon juice or vinegar. If the baking soda bubbles - it still works! If no bubbles appear, you’ll need to purchase new baking soda before using it in your baked goods.
How to use baking soda
Using baking soda in your recipes is super simple! It’s often added in with the dry ingredients then mixed with the wet ingredients.
Once baking soda makes contact with an acidic ingredient (like molasses, lemon juice, or buttermilk), it will immediately begin reacting. Carbon dioxide bubbles will be produced, which lifts the dough and starts to give it a lighter, airier texture. The chemical reaction will continue during baking.
Baked goods fell a little flat during baking? Test your baking soda as described in the section above to make sure it’s working properly before using the next time.
Baking soda substitute
Have a recipe that calls for baking soda, but don’t have any? There’s an easy substitution you can use!
Baking powder can be used in place of baking soda, at three times the amount specified in the recipe. If the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda, use 3 teaspoons of baking powder. (This is because baking powder only contains a bit of baking soda, plus other ingredients.)
Recipes using baking soda
Ready to bake some cookies?
Gluten Free Molasses Cookies uses the molasses as the acidic ingredient to activate the baking soda. If you’re craving a soft and chewy cookie with a spicy hit of ginger, make these ones!