Is Baking Powder Vegan?

Baking powder is a staple ingredient for many bakers and home cooks. It helps give baked goods like cakes, cookies, muffins, and quick breads a light, fluffy texture by releasing carbon dioxide gas into the batter or dough. But is this handy leavening agent actually vegan?

Is Baking Powder Vegan

For those following a vegan diet, it's important to take a close look at the ingredients and production methods used to make baking powder.

We've covered what it's made of and outlined the key factors to consider when determining if a particular brand of baking powder aligns with a vegan lifestyle.

What Is Baking Powder?

Baking powder is a dry, powdery mixture used as a leavening agent in baked goods. It produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles when mixed with liquid ingredients, causing batters and doughs to expand and rise.

Unlike yeast, which takes hours to produce gas through fermentation, baking powder begins working immediately, making it useful for quick bread, pancakes, cookies, and other goodies you want to whip up fast.

It's composed of three basic ingredients:

These ingredients are combined in just the right proportions to produce the perfect chemical reaction when liquid and heat are added during baking.

Is Baking Powder Vegan?

The specific ingredients used can vary by brand, but generally speaking, baking powder is considered vegan.

The acid, base, and moisture-absorbing components are all derived from non-animal mineral or plant sources.

Let's take a closer look:

Acid Sources

Early baking powders utilized cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) as the acid source. This byproduct of winemaking is vegan.

However, most modern baking powders now rely on other vegan acids like sodium aluminum sulfate or calcium phosphates, which come from mineral sources.

Some brands use monocalcium phosphate, which is commonly derived from rocks and plants. However, it can come from animal bones, so vegans should verify the source if it's listed.

Base Sources

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is the typical base or alkali agent used. It is mined from the earth or manufactured from minerals, so it's always vegan.

Occasionally, potassium bicarbonate may be used instead, which is also vegan.

Filler Sources

An inert starch is added to absorb moisture. Cornstarch is by far the most common.

Sometimes wheat starch is used instead. This would make the baking powder unsuitable for those avoiding gluten, but it's still vegan.

Key Takeaway: The three main components of baking powder - acid, base, and filler - are derived from non-animal mineral and plant sources, making standard baking powder vegan.

Are All Baking Powders Vegan?

Given the vegan-friendly base ingredients, you may assume all baking powders are suitable for vegans. However, there are a couple of things to consider:

1. Potential Animal Contamination

While the ingredients themselves may be vegan, some manufacturers produce other non-vegan items in their facilities. There is potential for cross-contamination with milk, eggs, etc.

Therefore, a company can't claim a product is vegan unless they can guarantee the manufacturing process is free of animal contact. Look for a vegan certification label for assurance.

2. Animal Testing

Some companies test their finished products or ingredients on animals to evaluate safety. Vegan consumers may want to avoid brands that engage in this practice.

Searching "[baking powder brand] animal testing policy" can sometimes reveal where a company stands. Opting for confirmed cruelty-free brands is recommended.

Key Takeaway: Due to potential animal contamination and testing, not every baking powder on the market is necessarily vegan - look for ones with vegan certification.

What About Cream of Tartar?

As mentioned earlier, cream of tartar was once the main acid component of baking powders. Though not as common today, it's still used sometimes.

Cream of tartar is vegan. Here's a breakdown:

  • It's a byproduct of winemaking, derived from grapes during fermentation.
  • Specifically, it's the powdered form of potassium bitartrate crystals that naturally form on wine barrels.
  • Despite the name, it's not related to dairy cream or egg whites (albumen).

Some vegans raise concerns about the potential use of animal products in the wine filtering process. However, major vegan organizations generally consider the cream of tartar acceptable for vegans.

Looking for the cream of tartar alternatives? Lemon juice or vinegar can provide the acidity needed.

Key Takeaway: Cream of tartar, despite its name, is not an animal product. It's considered vegan, though some may avoid it for other reasons.

Checking Baking Powder Ingredients

Reading the ingredient label is the best way to verify if a particular baking powder is vegan. Here are the key things to look for:

Vegan Ingredients

  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • Sodium aluminum sulfate
  • Calcium phosphates or monocalcium phosphate
  • Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate)
  • Cornstarch
  • Potato starch
  • Tapioca starch

Non-Vegan Ingredients

  • Monocalcium phosphate (if from animal bones)
  • Lactose
  • Whey powder
  • Casein
  • Albumen (egg whites)

Also, look for:

  • Allergen statements listing milk, eggs, etc.
  • "Suitable for vegans" or vegan certifications on the label
  • Manufactured in a facility that processes milk, eggs, fish, etc.

Key Takeaway: Reading the ingredients list and allergen statements on baking powder labels is the best way to determine vegan suitability.

Making Your Own Vegan Baking Powder

If you want to take total control over the ingredients, you can make DIY vegan baking powder right in your kitchen.

The basic recipe is:

To replace cream of tartar, use lemon juice, vinegar, or vitamin C powder as the acid.

Mix well, then store the homemade baking powder in an airtight container out of humidity. Make fresh batches every 3 months for the best leavening power.


Is baking powder dairy-free?

Yes, baking powder does not contain milk or any other dairy ingredients, so it is dairy-free.

Can baking powder contain eggs or egg products?

Most do not include eggs, though some recipes for homemade baking powder do use egg whites (albumen). Commercial brands tend not to include eggs.

Does baking powder contain gluten?

Not usually. However, some brands use wheat starch instead of cornstarch as the moisture-absorbing filler ingredient. This would make it unsuitable for gluten-free diets.

Can baking soda be substituted for baking powder in vegan recipes?

Yes, by combining baking soda with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. Use 1 tsp baking soda + 1-2 tsp acid to replace 1 tsp baking powder.

Why do some companies use animal products in baking powder?

Primarily as more affordable alternatives to plant-based and synthetic ingredients. However, there are plenty of vegan options available.

Which national vegan bakery brands offer vegan baking powder?

Some prominent cruelty-free, vegan-certified baking powder brands include Bob's Red Mill, Clabber Girl, Rumford, and Davis.


Standard baking powder containing cream of tartar, baking soda, and cornstarch as the main ingredients can generally be considered vegan. However, not all brands are guaranteed animal-free.

When purchasing baking powder, examine labels carefully and look for vegan certifications to be 100% sure the ingredients and manufacturing processes align with ethical vegan principles. If needed, DIY baking powder can be made quite easily using plant-based kitchen staples.

With so many vegan baking powder options available these days, avoiding animal products in your baked goods is easier than ever!

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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