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Can I Use Cornstarch Instead Of Baking Soda

Can I Use Cornstarch Instead Of Baking Soda? Answered

Last Updated on March 23, 2024 by Lori Walker

Replacing common kitchen items creatively can happen when making frequent trips to the kitchen. While baking, I realized I had run out of baking soda and in a moment of panic, I considered utilizing cornstarch as a substitute.

But here’s the thing: cornstarch and baking soda serve different purposes.

But, really, can you use cornstarch instead of baking soda? Let’s find out.

Is It Okay To Use Cornstarch Instead Of Baking Soda?

cornstarch powder on a jar

Not really. While both are white powders commonly found in our kitchen cabinets, they aren’t directly interchangeable.

Using cornstarch [1] instead of baking soda depends on the recipe and desired outcomes. While both substances have distinct roles, cornstarch lacks the leavening properties of baking soda. 

If the recipe relies on baking soda for rising, such as in quick bread or cookies, directly substituting cornstarch may lead to disappointing results.

However, for thickening sauces or adjusting textures, cornstarch can excel. 

Can Cornstarch Provide Leavening?

Cornstarch doesn’t possess inherent leavening properties like baking soda does. Baking soda generates carbon dioxide gas, which leads to a rise in baked goods. 

“I think a lot of people think being in the kitchen is serious, especially that baking is very serious, very straitlaced. For me, it’s about figuring out your voice, finding your personality, and exploring in the kitchen.”

– Christina Tosi, Chef

As a thickening agent, cornstarch doesn’t contribute to this leavening process. Substituting cornstarch for baking soda might result in flatter and denser baked goods, as the essential rising mechanism would be absent. 

It’s crucial to consider the specific role of baking soda in your recipe before opting for cornstarch as a replacement.

Read: Can Mayo Be Used Instead Of Eggs In Brownies?

How Does Cornstarch Affect Texture?

Introducing cornstarch as a substitute for baking soda can impact the texture of your dishes. Cornstarch is a thickening agent, often used to add body and smoothness to sauces and gravies. 

When used in place of baking soda, which contributes to the rise and lightness of baked goods, the texture can become denser and less airy. 

Baked items might lack the desired fluffiness and tenderness, and their overall mouthfeel could be altered.

It’s vital to recognize that the distinct properties of cornstarch can lead to noticeable changes in the texture of your dishes.

Find out what happens if you forget to put baking soda in cookies here.

What About Flavor Alterations?

Cornstarch Powder on a Plate

Baking soda can affect the taste of baked goods by neutralizing acidity and contributing to a slightly tangy flavor. 

“Amidst the culinary alchemy, the question lingers: can cornstarch weave its magic in the realm of baking soda? It’s a dance of innovation and experimentation, where flavors and textures harmonize to rewrite recipes with a touch of the unexpected.”

– Leonelli Bakery

Cornstarch, being a neutral thickener, lacks this impact on taste. While the primary flavors of your recipes remain intact, it’s essential to be aware that the absence of baking soda’s unique influence might lead to a slight difference in the overall flavor profile. 

Balancing this change with the desired outcome of your dish becomes critical when considering cornstarch as an alternative.

Are There Suitable Dishes For Cornstarch Substitution?

  1. Sauces and Gravies: Cornstarch’s thickening properties make it an excellent choice for sauces, gravies, and soups, where its ability to create a smooth and silky texture is appreciated.
  2. Puddings and Custards: Cornstarch can create creamy and luscious puddings and custards [2] without affecting their overall rise or texture.
  3. Fried Foods: Coating ingredients with a cornstarch mixture can produce crispy and light textures when fried.
  4. Stir-Fries: Cornstarch can create a glossy and thickened sauce in stir-fry dishes, enhancing their flavor and texture.
  5. Asian Dumplings: Cornstarch can help create a chewy and tender exterior for dumplings, enhancing their appeal.
  6. Gluten-Free Baking: Cornstarch can contribute to a smoother texture in gluten-free baking, where the structure might be more delicate.
  7. Filling for Baked Goods: In some recipes, cornstarch can help thicken fruit fillings for pies and tarts.
  8. Crisps and Crumbles: Cornstarch can be added to fruit fillings for crisps and crumbles to help absorb excess moisture and create a desirable consistency.

Also Read: What’s A Good Substitute For Cornstarch?

FAQs

Can cornstarch replace baking soda’s rise?

No, cornstarch cannot replace baking soda’s leavening or rising properties in baking.

Cornstarch primarily serves as a thickening agent and does not release gases like baking soda does to create a rise in baked goods.

If you’re seeking a leavening agent, consider using baking powder instead. But is it okay to use Fridge N’ Freezer baking soda for baking?

Is cornstarch the same as baking powder?

No, cornstarch is not the same as baking powder. Cornstarch is a fine powder made from corn and is used primarily as a thickening agent in cooking and baking.

Baking powder, on the other hand, is a leavening agent that contains a mixture of an acid (usually cream of tartar) and a base (usually baking soda), along with a starch (often cornstarch) to keep the ingredients dry and prevent premature reactions.

In Conclusion 

Cornstarch and baking soda have distinct roles in baking. Cornstarch cannot be directly substituted for baking soda when leavening or creating a rise in baked goods. 

Baking soda is a leavening agent that releases carbon dioxide gas to make baked goods light and airy. 

On the other hand, cornstarch is primarily used as a thickening agent and does not have leavening properties. 

If you’re looking for a leavening agent, it’s best to use baking soda or baking powder to substitute baking soda’s rise.

References:

  1. https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-corn-starch-1328466
  2. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/258755/simple-custard/
Lori Walker

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