Is Bicarbonate of Soda Gluten-Free?
Bicarbonate of soda, also known as baking soda, is a natural alkaline chemical compound that comes from soda ash, or sodium carbonate. It is a fine white powder that is used in baking as a leavening agent.
When combined with an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar in a recipe, bicarbonate of soda produces carbon dioxide bubbles, which is what helps baked goods to rise. This is especially true in the case of vegan baking, when there are no eggs to aid in the leavening process.
It can be used in a variety of recipes but is typically used to help create fluffy cakes, pancakes and muffins. It can also be used to create a more cakey-style of cookie.
Is bicarbonate of soda gluten-free?
If you’re new to gluten-free baking, you may be wondering whether this ingredient is suitable for a gluten-free diet. The answer is yes, bicarbonate of soda is gluten-free. Other names for it include baking soda, sodium carbonates, sodium hydrogen carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. To date, I have never seen a box of bicarbonate of soda that had any extra additives that could make it not gluten-free.
Is it coeliac friendly?
The ingredient itself is gluten-free but there may be a risk of cross-contamination depending on which particular brand you choose and where it’s made. There should be a ‘may contain wheat’ or ‘may contain gluten’ label on the packaging if cross-contamination is a risk. If you’re unsure, I recommend buying one that is certified gluten-free, just to be on the safe side.
Where to buy bicarbonate of soda
Now that we know bicarbonate of soda is gluten-free, where can we buy it? I’ve listed some of the brands that you can physically buy in the UK but there are plenty more places you can get it online if you do a quick Google search.
Please note that there is a version of sodium bicarbonate that is sold as a cleaning product. Sometimes there are extra ingredients added to this version which are not safe to eat. Make sure to buy it in the baking section to ensure it’s edible!
- Dr. Oetker. This is the most popular brand of bicarbonate of soda in the UK and it’s sold in most supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s.
- Asda. This is great as a cheaper alternative to Dr. Oetker. It contains the exact same thing- sodium carbonates and sodium carbonates only.
- Sainsbury’s. Slightly more pricey than Asda but does the job!
- Waitrose, Morrison’s and Aldi. Three other own-brand supermarket versions.
- Arm & Hammer. Arm & Hammer baking soda is a gluten-free American brand that is made up of 100% bicarbonate of soda. It can be purchased from Tesco and sometimes B&M stores.
Is it the same as baking powder?
No. Baking soda and baking powder may look and sound similar but they act quite differently in recipes.
Bicarbonate of soda is 3-4 times more powerful than baking powder. It can only work properly if the recipe also contains an acid. Acids that can activate bicarbonate of soda include cocoa powder, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, lemon or lime juice, and cream of tartar.
Baking powder, on the other hand, needs liquid and heat to be activated. It’s essentially bicarbonate of soda pre-mixed with an acid, usually Diphosphates (E-number E450).
Baking powder also has extra ingredients to help absorb moisture. Sometimes this is starch but other times this can be wheat flour. This means that baking powder is not always gluten-free. It’s best to double check the ingredients before purchasing.
Ways to use bicarbonate of soda
Since I make a lot of vegan desserts, I use bicarbonate of soda in many of my recipes to compensate for the lack of eggs. Sometimes I use it alone and sometimes I use it in conjunction with baking powder. Mixed with homemade vegan buttermilk, it helps to create tall, fluffy desserts. So much so, you won’t miss the eggs at all!
I only have a small selection of gluten-free desserts on my blog but I am working to increase them! In the meantime, try out my gluten-free lemon drizzle cake and lemon muffins to see the magic of bicarbonate of soda in action! Here are some other dessert suggestions to try it out with:
Bicarbonate of soda is gluten-free and there are not typically any other ingredients added to commercial brands for baking. There may be a risk of cross-contamination so be sure to double check for this if you are coeliac.