4 Amazing Yeast Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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There are many instances when you may need to know some good yeast substitutes, particularly if you are an avid baker! Yeast is traditionally an essential part of baking. Yeast helps to convert the sugars in dough into carbon dioxide, causing the dough to rise and giving recipes their fluffy, strong structure.

Yeast Substitutes

Many people are discovering that they need yeast substitutes because they have intolerances to yeast, and are seeking to cut it out of their diets. This can cause a significant problem when it comes to baking, as there are no real substitutes for yeast in terms of what it can do. However, the best yeast substitutes include baking soda and lemon, milk and vinegar, double acting baking powder, and quick bread as they will give the effect of leavening dough.

Baking Soda and Lemon

To replace yeast, you need to cause a reaction that will create carbon dioxide in the dough. This is what causes those lovely air bubbles to rise in your bread dough. Simply add together equal parts baking soda and lemon juice, enough to equal the amount of yeast called for in the recipe. For this substitution to work, do not let it rise, so put the dough in the oven immediately.

Close-up view of sliced lemon with baking soda on a wooden table

Baking soda and lemon juice have been widely used in teeth whitening. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Milk and Vinegar

If you are worried about lemon juice overpowering or being too distinctive in your recipe, you can also use a combination of milk and vinegar instead of lemon. Use equal parts milk and vinegar, then combine in equal part with baking soda, to equal in total the amount of yeast that is called for. You can also just use plain buttermilk with baking soda, if available. Once again, using this method, you don’t want to wait for the dough to rise before baking, as the reaction will not work.

Double Acting Baking Powder

Baking powder is a combination of cream of tartar and baking soda. The cream of tartar acts as the acid against the baking soda and releases the carbon dioxide that is needed for dough to rise. This can be substituted in an equal ratio to the amount of yeast called for. Bake the dough right away. The baking powder will react twice, once when it is first mixed, and once again when in the oven, so don’t worry if you don’t immediately achieve the height you want.

Quick Bread

Quick bread is a category of bread that requires no yeast to rise and can be a great solution for making homemade bread when you’re trying to avoid yeast. Quick bread includes bread like banana, Irish soda, cornbread, and biscuits. So, while working without yeast may take a bit of trial and error to get the recipe right, there’s no reason to go bread-less in the meantime.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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