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Difference between Baking Powder and Yeast

Baking powder and yeast are two of the most commonly used leavening agents in baked foods. They are used to make the dough rise as both produce carbon dioxide gas that stays as bubbles in the dough. They may be used for the same purpose but they are different from each other. Let us see how they differ from each other!

Baking Powder:

Baking powder is a dry chemical which is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and one or more acid salts. It can also be produced by mixing baking soda with a dry cream of tartar acid and other salts. It leavens bread, cakes etc., through an acid-base reaction, i.e. when acid combines with sodium bicarbonate and water, the bubbles of carbon dioxide are produced that make the dough rise.

Baking powder is available in two different forms: single-acting baking powder and double-acting baking powder. The single-acting baking powders are activated by moisture so if you are using it, you are required to bake recipes immediately after mixing with baking powder. The double-acting powders react in two stages and you can wait for a while before baking as some gas is released at room temperature when the powder is mixed with dough and most of the gas is released when the temperature of dough increases in the oven.


Yeast is a living microorganism that can be used as a leavening agent as it produces carbon dioxide from the sugars or carbohydrates present in the dough and thus makes the dough rise. In addition to the carbon dioxide, various aromatic substances and flavours are also formed during fermentation. There are many types of yeast that can be used as a leavening agent, but the most commonly used is dry yeast. The dry yeast is a granulated form of yeast in which each granule has live yeast cells covered with dead yeast cells. It must be rehydrated before use to activate the yeast cells.

Based on above information, some of the key differences between baking powder and yeast are as follows:

Baking Powder Yeast
It is a dry chemical used as a leavening agent. It is a unicellular living microorganism that acts as a leavening agent.
It releases carbon dioxide through an acid-base reaction. It releases carbon dioxide by fermentation from the sugars present in the dough.
The source of carbon dioxide is a baking powder (NaHCO3). The source of carbon dioxide is the sugars or carbohydrates.
It comprises sodium bicarbonate and one or more acid salts. It is the microorganism present in the yeast extract.
It is a synthetic food ingredient. It is natural food ingredient.
It does not offer health benefits. It is a rich source of protein, vitamins, minerals and cofactors. It also acts as a probiotic.
It generally does not change the flavour and consistency of the finished product. It changes the flavour and consistency of the baked food.
It is easy to use. It is less easy to use.
It takes less time to leaven the dough than yeast. It takes more time to leaven the dough than baking powder.
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