Rising To The Challenge: The Best Substitute for Yeast

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If you’re looking for the best substitute for yeast, we have them right here! Check out these best yeast substitutes for your baking.

How Does Yeast Work?

It’s aliiiive! It’s aliiiive once it touches water. Active yeast is a single-celled yeast that releases carbon II oxide from flour by eating away at the sugars.

This causes bread, biscuits, rolls, and doughnuts to rise slowly and steadily. This is not the case with nutritional yeast, which can be activated and used as a seasoning for vegan foods.

If you use wheat flour, gluten will also aid in the rising process. The yeast activates by releasing gas bubbles from the proteins it contains. The starch in flour releases sugar for the yeast to eat and helps boost those bubbles when baking.

The dough is then cooked to a temperature high enough that the yeast dies and the stretchy, chewy gluten hardens into our favorite bread.

Best Substitute For Yeast To Help You In A Pinch

Yeast is an important ingredient in many bread recipes including pizza dough, dinner rolls, rolls of cinnamon, and most breads. It helps dough rise, which results in soft, pillow-like bread.

It’s used for baking purposes as an instant or active yeast. It is a light brown powder made from a yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Dry yeast activates when it is exposed to water and sugar. It begins to eat the sugar and digest it. This creates carbon dioxide bubbles which get trapped in the dense dough. These bubbles expand at room temperature and when heated, causing the dough (1).

This process, known as leavening, results in larger, fluffier, and softer baked goods that rise than those that don’t rise, like flatbreads or crackers.

It may be a surprise to you that yeast is not required for this process. Many ingredients can replicate the yeast-like action in baking.

5 Yeast Substitutes

substitute for yeast

1. Baking Powder

Baking powder is a key ingredient in any baker’s kitchen. It usually contains baking soda and an acid, usually cream of tartar. Click To Tweet

Baking powder acts like yeast as a leavening ingredient. It can be used in two ways.

  • Reacting with liquid. The acid reacts with the baking soda when it is moistened to create carbon dioxide bubbles (2).
  • Reacting with heat. These bubbles of gas expand when heated and cause the dough (2) to rise.

Baking powder reacts immediately to heat and liquid. Baking powder doesn’t require any additional rise time, unlike yeast. It can be used to make quick bread like biscuits, cornbread, cakes, and pancakes.

Baking powder can be used to replace yeast in baked goods. You should keep in mind, however, that baking powder won’t have the same leavening properties as yeast. Click To Tweet


Baking powder can increase the rise of baked goods, but not as fast as yeast. Baking powder can be substituted for yeast in a 1-to-1 ratio.

Baking powder can increase the rise of baked goods, but not as fast as yeast. Baking powder can be substituted for yeast in a 1-to-1 ratio.

2. Baking Soda and Acid

Baking soda mixed with acid can be used to replace yeast. Baking soda and acid can be combined to produce the same reactions as baking flour (2).

Baking soda and acid can be used separately, but they won’t make baked goods rise. You need to combine them to get the reaction to happen.

To replicate the yeast’s leavening action, you can use these acids with baking soda:

  • Lemon juice
  • buttermilk
  • Mixing milk and vinegar in a one-to-one ratio.
  • Cream of tartar

You can substitute yeast for baking soda by replacing half the yeast with baking soda, and the rest with acid.

If a recipe calls to use 2 teaspoons of yeast, you can simply add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon acid.

Baking soda and acid do not need to rise, just like baking powder. However, the leavening properties of baking soda and acid will not be as strong as yeast.


Baking soda and acid have the same reaction as baking soda, which results in a rapid rise. You can substitute yeast by using 50% baking soda and 50% acid.

Baking soda and acid have the same reaction as baking powder, which results in a rapid rise. You can substitute yeast by using 50% baking soda and 50% acid.

3. Sourdough Starter

A sourdough starter is made from naturally occurring yeast. It is made from flour and water. It is used to make sourdough bread.

The yeast’s natural fermentation process gives it a slightly tangy taste.

Some starters of sourdough are kept for years and continue to ferment to give artisan sourdough bread a strong flavor.

A starter sourdough yeast ferments the dough in the same way as instant yeast. It forms bubbles of carbon dioxide that give the dough a rise.

To replace a 2-teaspoon packet of yeast, you can make a sourdough starter from 1 cup (300g).

Reduce the amount you use of flour if your starter becomes too thick. If your starter is too thin, increase the liquid or reduce the flour until the starter is the right texture. The rise time for a sourdough starter is approximately twice that of yeast.

4. Egg Whites

You add air to egg whites when you beat them. This helps with the leavening process. Club soda can be added to egg whites to aid in the process.

This method works well for cakes, muffins, and pancakes.

Ratio: 2 egg whites to 1 teaspoon yeast.

Separate the yolks from the whites if the recipe already contains eggs. Add the yolks to all the liquids. Mix the whites with some of your sugar. Once the whites are fluffy, fold them in with the rest of your ingredients, keeping air out of the batter.

5. Self-rising flour

Let’s be clear, this is not a yeast substitute. However, because it leavens many baked goods it can help you make everything from pancakes to pizza if you have it in the pantry. It can be substituted for all-purpose flour in most cases as long as there is no yeast in the recipe.

Otherwise, it can cause excessive rising and cracking. Remember that self-rising flour already contains baking powder and salt. Adjust the recipe accordingly.

When Can You Substitute Yeast?

substitute for yeast

Although many recipes can be made with a yeast substitute, it is not always possible to make them work. These items can be baked with a yeast substitute:

  • Pizza 
  • Muffins
  • Batter bread
  • Cupcakes
  • Pancakes
  • Cakes

When Not To Substitute Yeast

A yeast substitute will not always work in a recipe for kneaded bread. Substitute yeast doesn’t have as much action as yeast to leaven the bread.

Some dietary requirements may require yeast to replace eggs. Instant yeast can be used instead of eggs to make vegan brownies.

Yeast is rarely used in cookies. However, yeast can be used to make cookies that look like cakes.

Some of my favorite recipes that use yeast are

  • Healthy cinnamon rolls
  • Sweet potato rolls
  • Honey whole-wheat pizza dough.
  • Homemade sweet potato soft pretzel bites.

Did These Rise To The Challenge?

Yeast adds airiness, lightness, and chewiness to baked goods, but in a pinch, you can replace it with alternative ingredients. From baking soda to self-rising flour, you’re sure to find the perfect substitute for yeast in your recipe.

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