Yeast is an important ingredient in many baked goods such as loaves of bread, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, donuts, and dinner rolls. It plays an important role that helps the dough to rise and result in the most perfect pillowy, soft texture. But there is nothing worse than building up the motivation to bake bread from scratch only to find out you don’t have any yeast on hand! Or even worse finding out the grocery store is completely sold out! Thankfully, there are a few great substitutes for yeast that you can use when you’re in a pinch! The best part? You likely already have these substitutes on hand! Check out the best yeast substitutes below.
Before we dive into the best substitutes for yeast, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what yeast is and how it works. The biggest thing to remember is that yeast is a living, breathing organism! Active dry yeast is a single-celled fungus that reacts with water and is the reason behind the amazing process that helps a dense ball of dough become a wonderful risen loaf of bread. This process is also known as fermentation.
Yeast works by consuming sugar and expelling carbon dioxide and alcohol as a by-product. This process is what makes bread (as well as other baked treats like biscuits, donuts, and rolls), to rise perfectly. Further, not only does yeast have leavening abilities but it also helps to develop the gluten in the dough and it adds to that delicious bread flavor! So when you find yourself in a pinch check out these awesome substitutes!
Note: Considering that yeast is a living, breathing organism, none of these substitutes will completely replace it. That said, they will provide the closest results possible, making them excellent alternatives to yeast.
Baking soda is a kitchen staple and can act as a great substitute for yeast. That said, you can’t solely use baking soda you’ll need to combine it with an acid such as lemon juice, buttermilk, or equal parts milk and vinegar.
To successfully substitute yeast for baking soda and acid you’ll need to use a 1:1 ratio. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of yeast you’ll want to use 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of an acid. It’s also worth noting that when using this substitute you don’t have to let the dough rise like you would with yeast.
Baking Powder is also another great substitute for yeast! When using it in a recipe you can simply replace yeast with equal amounts of baking powder. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of yeast, simply substitute for 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
Unlike baking soda, baking powder is ready to use without any additional ingredients because it already contains an acid in it. Baking powder will react as soon as it’s exposed to liquid and heat which means your baked goods won’t require additional time to rise. This also makes it an excellent ingredient for quick types of bread such as biscuits, cake, pancakes, and cornbread!
If you don’t want to use baking powder you can try using beaten egg whites instead. When you beat eggs you’re adding air to them which helps them act as a leavening agent. You could even add in a splash of club soda or ginger ale to help even further.
Keep in mind this substitute may not work well in traditional bread recipes but instead would be a great swap in recipes for cakes, pancakes, muffins, and the like. Keep in mind, if your recipe already calls for eggs, simply separate the yolks from the whites and add the yolks to the rest of your ingredients. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with the sugar called for from the recipe until they’re fluffy and airy. Finally, gently fold the beaten eggs into the remaining ingredients. It’s so important to keep as much air as possible — so make sure you don’t overmix!
Self-rising flour isn’t exactly a perfect replacement for yeast per se but it does act as a leavening agent in many baked goods which makes it worth noting. It would be an excellent ingredient to help you make pizza dough, pancakes and other types of quick-breads.
You can substitute all-purpose flour for self-rising flour in most recipes. Just keep in mind that it already contains baking powder and salt so you’ll need to adjust the recipe if it calls for those ingredients separately.
There are several ways to make delicious homemade bread. While the most common method uses storebought active dry yeast, you can also make homemade bread using a sourdough starter. For those that don’t know, a sourdough starter is a fermented dough with wild yeast and lactobacilli bacteria. It’s made from flour and water and contains a slightly tangy flavor due to the natural fermentation process of the yeast.
A sourdough starter works the same way as active dry yeast as it forms bubbles of carbon dioxide in the dough which helps the bread rise. You can use 1 cup (300 grams) of sourdough starter to replace one package of yeast (2 teaspoons). You’ll also be pleased to know that making a sourdough starter from scratch is easier than you may think! All you need is flour, water, and a little bit of patience to make chewy, flavorful, bread right in the comfort of your own home! Check out our easy instructions to make a sourdough starter from scratch.