Baking without salt.

After so many years of low sodium living, I’ve found there’s one place few people notice the absence of salt and that’s the bakery department! While some low-so bread can be bland, when it comes to sweets there’s little discernible difference in taste between low sodium and “regular” versions.  So much so that when selling my baked goods commercially, no one’s ever remarked about the lack of salt.  In fact the opposite.  People RAVE!

Most of you reading this have a sodium restriction that necessitates carefully count of each sodium mile. I’m pleased to say most baked goods can be modified to meet your daily intake simply by dropping the salt and swapping sodium free leaveners for the old standards.

If new to salt free living you may be unfamiliar with these leavening agents.  All provide excellent results and can be obtained either in store (in the case of Featherweight sodium free baking powder which is sold at Whole Foods markets nationwide) or online.  In any recipe calling for baking powder, simply substitute an equal amount of sodium free baking powder.  But when it comes to sodium free baking soda, it’s important to remember to use TWICE as much.  That is in recipes calling for “normal” (Arm & Hammer type) baking soda, double the amount of sodium free baking soda.  Why?  Sodium free baking soda is not as strong, so in order to achieve the same rise you have to use more.

In some cases other ingredient substitutions must be made when baking low sodium desserts. For instance, in my recipes for pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie I use low fat milk or even coconut milk, rather than evaporated or condensed milk.

In worst cases scenarios, items may have to be eliminated altogether or used extra sparingly. Cream cheese comes to mind.  I use it in several recipes but in tiny amounts, just enough to add a hint of flavor but not enough to cause damage.  Such as in the frosting for my low sodium Carrot Cake.

Bottom line?  Get creative. Baking is chemistry, that’s true. But as long as you’re following the basic “rules” recipes can be adapted. The beauty of sweetness lies in its ability to captivate. Who needs salt when your taste buds are in love?

When developing your own salt free baked goods, remember this rule of thumb. You only need 1 t. sodium free baking powder or 1/2 t. sodium free baking soda per cup of flour. You may need a little more in recipes calling for add-ins, such as dried fruits, nuts or chips.  But in general this rule holds true.  A reason people frequently complain about poor baking results is because their leavening ratio is off.  And more often than not they’re using too much rather than too little leavener. Too much baking powder or baking soda (or BOTH) and the batter rises up up UP only to fall flat on its face. You want those air bubbles to support the cake, not buoy it into outer space, pop and fizzle out. Stick to the ratios and you can’t go wrong! Just as you stick to the salt free diet and you can’t go wrong either. 😉

One last note.  Some loyal readers of this site aren’t strict salt free dieters. All of the baked goods on The Daily Dish can be made at home without purchasing sodium free leavening agents. Instead of using sodium free baking powder, simply substitute the same amount of regular baking powder. BUT REMEMBER when using baking SODA, use only half the amount of “Arm & Hammer” or other standard baking soda.

PS: For more detailed info regarding baking powder and baking soda in general, consult Joy of or the King Arthur Flour website.

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30 Responses to Baking without salt.

  1. Tammy says:

    Is that a lobster cookie? Your pumpkin pie and carrot cake pics look delicious!
    Thanks for the tip on the proper amount of regular baking soda to use with your recipes.
    Speaking of recipes, I think I’ll make some apple fritters tonight.

  2. Karen says:

    Agree wholeheartedly & I don’t have any particular reason to bake low sodium/no sodium foods. You can always mess around with a pinch of herbs, spices, citrus zest, etc. if you want some taste enhancement.

  3. Christy says:

    Tammy that’s actually a little crab cutter. I sent lobstah cutters out as part of the Bake Off winner prizes at Christmas – and yet somehow forgot to buy one for myself! HEL-LO. Thanks so much for the compliments!

    Glad you find the info helpful. I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time. Even my own sister emails to ask me for the reminder about which one to half. Hope you enjoy the fritters — so yummy!

  4. Christy says:

    Karen, I didn’t even get into flavor enhancement and LOVE your comment. Even the simplest baked good can be tweaked in a myriad of ways. Wonderful reminder – thanks so much!!

  5. Becky says:

    I have used the ener-g baking soda multiple times in different recipes with mediocre results. I double the amount as directed, but all of the baked goods have turned out extremely dense. Have you had the same experience? Is there a way around this?

    • Christy says:

      Hi Becky. Yes, I’m sorry to say I have had the same result when using the Ener-G baking soda. I’ve never managed a way around it EXCEPT by either adding or substituting the Hain Featherweight sodium-free baking powder – which, I have to say, is absolutely marvelous! When I say “substituting” I don’t mean just swapping the two, unfortunately. I’ve tried experimenting with them both, and I’ve gotten to the point where I try not to use the Ener-G at all. It’s really not that effective. I’d suggest doing what I’ve done and playing around w/ the baking powder exclusively. It’s strong, so you likely need far less. Good luck!

      • Tracey says:

        I found your blog looking for sodium free leavening agents. My husband has stage 4 polycystic kidney disease and must unfortunately avoid both sodium and potassium, the latter which ins found in Hain’s soda. Do think the failings of the Ener-G soda might lie in the pH? Both MgCO3 and CaCO3 are much, much less soluble than their sodium counterpart, calcium carbonate much less than magnesium carbonate, so maybe they are just less available? adding acid “should” help, which is why I would guess the Ener-G powder ought to work more effectively.

        • Christy says:

          Hi Tracey! I’m sorry to hear about your husband- and the fact that Hain’s baking powder contains potassium! I had no idea. Adding an acid to the mix when using Ener-G might indeed help, though I don’t have any to try (I’ve stopped using it altogether). If you do try it w success, please let us know! Or, if you create your own low-sodium / low-potassium leavened (you def know your stuff!) – let us know, too!

          Wishing you all the very best,

          • JM says:

            I have been trying to bake without sodium and didn’t realize how much sodium is in baking powder and baking soda. I have been using the Hain’s Baking Powder and that works well, but using the Ener-G Baking Soda doesn’t seem to work, or at least when a recipe calls for both things don’t raise and are dense or not quite done in the middle (edible, but not happy with). I was not sure if adding cream of tarter would help with lift or what no sodium product could be used. I also have tried to cut back on eggs in recipes, and thought that was my problem, but later found it wasn’t. It is crazy how much sodium are in things; I watch cooking shows that add so much salt to things that already have a lot of salt in them.

  6. TlalocW says:

    So in a recipe that called for a teaspoon of soda and a teaspoon of powder, I would put in 3 teaspoons of sodium-free soda?

  7. Lanie says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you could help, throw in some thoughts would be so helpful 🙂 Ok, I want to make my own baking powder for health reasons and ingredient sensitivity to what is in conventional b.powder, so, I want to use my Ener G baking soda and my Frontier cream of tartar. When using the Ener G b. soda I know it has to be doubled so does it also have to be doubled when making my own b. powder? The ratio is one part b. soda and two parts cream of tartar so would I double the b.soda for this application also and would I keep the cream of tartar the same ration as the two parts? Every recipe I’ve found for homemade b.powder says one part b.soda and two parts cream of tartar but noone talks about using Ener G b. soda with cream of tartar.

    • Christy says:

      Hey Lanie!

      What an interesting question! Seriously, I’ve never made my own baking powder, so this is really intriguing – and a very good question. My GUESS – given that I have no experience (heheh) – would be that you’re correct. I’d double the amount of baking soda you’re using since the Ener-G sodium-free product is less effective than “regular” asking soda. I wouldn’t worry about doubling the cream of tartar – it should be just as effective – but the Ener-G really needs to be doubled. That is my guess anyway. Please do let us know if you’re successful w making your own. That’s a very cool thing to try.

      Best wishes to you.

  8. stan prokop says:

    Recent arrival on planet salt reduction due to cardiac failure.Bought Ener-G which arrived this morning.Made apple microwave sponge for my lunch…100 gm (self raising,0.9 mg salt) and 1 tsp Ener-g.Excellent rise and best texture ever for the ersatz steamed pudding.
    Be doing carrot cake soon and will feedback on density issue seen above.

    • Christy says:

      Hey Stan! Welcome to Planet Salt Free! Thanks so much for the feedback about your Ener-G. Hope it works as well w. the carrot cake. Best wishes to you, Christy

  9. Laura Batzer says:

    I also , am new to planet salt free. Going to try making homemade pizza crust , sodium free. There is a recipe. Based on your recommendation going to buy Hain . Thank you

  10. Diane says:

    Hi Christy. New to your site. Not new to no salt. Mine is highly restricted due to Ménière’s disease. I appreciate all your comments regarding both the Ener’G and the Hain’s. I’ve been frustrated with the baking. I will definitely use the Hain’s from now on.
    For Laura, I make my own pizza dough. I substitute spice for the salt. It has a wonderful flavor. Make more own sauce. Very easy. A pizza stone is absolutely necessary for good crust.
    Thanks again, Christy, for this site to share ideas and answer questions. Very helpful!!

  11. Emily says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you so much for this!! i’m new to being salt-free and the biggest hurdle has been baking. i’d never actually looked at the nutrition label on baking powder/soda before…omg! so this post is perfect and incredibly helpful! i can’t wait to explore your recipes 😀

  12. Donna says:

    What about recipes for baked goods that call for salt, as in 1 tsp. salt, etc.? Any idea how to lessen or eliminate the salt in these cases?

    • Christy says:

      Hi Donna!

      As long as the salt isn’t integral to the chemistry of whatever you’re baking, you can eliminate it altogether without issue. The only change will be the taste- and that can be enhanced with all sorts of herbs, spices, sweeteners, etc. In fact, for most sweet bakes, you won’t notice the omission at all!

      Hope this helps!

      Best wishes,
      Christy 🙂

  13. kate kiely says:

    I’m new to low-sodium cooking and baking. It seems like flour is packed with sodium (360 g in 1/3 cup). Do you use a special kind of flour? Thanks!

  14. Nancy says:

    I’m new to salt free baking & recently made a salt free, 1/2 whole wheat & 1/2 white zucchini bread ( found the recipe online). I like the front taste a lot, but the finish is really lacking. I used regular baking powder & soda, as called for, but would love to get a nicer finish. Any suggestions? It has 1/2 cup of sugar…would switching to brown, molasses or maple syrup help with that?

  15. Donna says:

    These might sound like stupid questions:

    If a recipe calls for salt, baking soda and baking powder, what do I do? Can I eliminate the salt and just use the baking powder and baking soda (doubling the amount of baking soda) called for in the recipe?

    What if the recipe calls for salt and baking powder?

    What if the recipe calls for salt and baking soda?

    • Mitch says:

      I’m not a baking pro but I have been using these products for a couple of years (thank you Christy !!) and yes you can just eliminate the salt in most recipes. You’ll notice a taste difference but I have come to enjoy less salty flavor in my baked goods.

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