Baking Powder and Bitter Taste (January 20th, 2007)

This past Friday I ended up baking a small cherry cake for our family. The recipe was very simple – it only had 5 ingriedents: flour, baking powder, eggs, oil and pie filling. Unfortunatly, after the cake was baked, it turned out that it tasted very bitter to me. My wife on the other hand, did not taste anything unusual. To add more to this mystery, I have been tasting a bit of bitterness in some baked goods at my home for quite some time. My first thought was an egg substitute but after some research, it was something entirely different.

It turns out that the blame is on the baking powder. There are two reasons why baking powder can cause something to taste bitter:

1. Some people are sensitive to a specific type of baking powder. It turns out that there are TWO types of baking powder – one containing a salt called “sodium aluminum sulfate”, and others that don’t. This particular salt is bitter according to this page and this page. Wikipedia seems to imply that some people are more sensitive to its taste than others. While there has been healthy concerns, it does not look like they were confirmed.

2. Using too much baking powder causes bitterness. According to this page at Joys Of Baking, too much baking powder can cause bitter taste. The normal proportion is about 1 to 2 teaspoons per 1 cup of flour. This recipe had a mistake – 2 TABLESPOONS instead of 2 tea spoon.

While I was researching this, it turns out that for the past year we used to use non-aluminum baking powder made by Rumford. However, recently we ran out, and when I went to check the cupboard, it turns out that we switched to a different brand made by Clabber Girl which contans aluminum.

If you feel particularly lazy to go shopping, Amazon sells Rumford baking powder online with free shipping right here.

P.S. The only reason why I am bothering to post this is because it took me more than 20 minutes of Googling to find the right answer. I am hoping that my post will help others find the answer quicker.

52 thoughts on “Baking Powder and Bitter Taste (January 20th, 2007)

    1. I have baked for 50 years and am married to a chef. For the past few months my baked goods started to have this taste. Everything in my house is home baked. My 41 year old son said mom what did you do to my muffins. I thought it was the cinnamon. Yesterday I made my husband a new recipe for blueberry muffins with no cinnamon and it happened again. That’s when I asked him to taste the baking powder. That’s what it is. I bought a brand from BJ’s because I bake so much I wanted quantity. It has the aluminum in it. Thank you so much for your post and the time you took to investigate this problem.

    2. I just had the same reaction to a commercial cheddar biscuit mix. I thought there was something wrong with me. Thank you everyone for posting!

    3. thank you for posting this! the past several times I have baked, beginning with banana bread, there was bitter/sour that made our entire mouth go numb. it was hit or miss with each bite. I couldn’t figure it out. I thought maybe I didn’t mix well enough as I just used a fork intead of hand mixer. i thought it was the baking soda. then i made a cake of somesort and same thing. i was getting disgusted, i just couldn’t figure it out, i even had made to sure to use hand mixer and mix extra to be sure. then my daughter made homemade waffles …no soda, just powder and dang gummit, there were sour spots in the waffles….so i thought it must be the powder. i just have plain generic store brand powder and it’s far from being expired, i have used this brand before. so i am making sure to get new powder because it’s so nasty to taste. 🙂

    4. thank you for posting, I’ve made two batches of flax seed bread and the recipe called for 2tablespoons of baking powder! each batch has had the burning sensation in my mouth. Now I know why!

    5. If you taste bitter in cornbread, beer, black coffee, broccoli, you are like me, a super taster. It sounds like it’s a good think but it’s really not so great.

  1. Thank you, I will try this!! I just made some muffins and I noticed they had a bitter taste, and wanted to find out why! This may be it! Thank you for posting this–you learn something new every day! 🙂

  2. I have been tasting baking powder in quite a few recipes and my husband never tastes it like I do. Thanks for posting this! I even bought a new baking powder thinking the last one went bad prior to the expiration date. Turns out, it has aluminum. I’ll be trying the other kind to see if that’s the issue. Almost 10 years later, and your post is useful 🙂

    1. I would stay away from anything that uses aluminum. I have an old pan set that uses aluminum on the outside for even heating (works!) and is clad interiorly for good cooking and separation from the aluminum. I have used this set since 1979 and am still pleased with it. It came with a lifetime warranty!., which I used once. I have NO dissatisfaction at all. I have read that aluminum pans by themselves are toxic, so there! Helpful?

    2. thanks so much! i just made some peach muffins, and the recipe called for 4 tsp of baking powder, i thought that was a lot, but it also called for 1 3/4 cups of flour, well, i too have learned something to day, after 40 years of baking now and then, to know about baking powder, aluminum and its effects…thank you very much

  3. Thank you for sharing your findings! I’ve recently had a few baked goods come out bitter and I wasn’t sure what could have been causing it. Looks like I’ll be getting non-aluminum baking powder during my next shopping trip. 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing your story! I found this page through Google because I experienced the same thing with muffins I just made!

  5. Hi thanks for the post as I’ve been googling why i have bitter spots in my banana bread. I think it could be because I did not sift the baking soda or mix it thoroughly enough.

    1. I have the same problem. The baking powder turns into little hard balls. very bitter. I didn’t always have this problem. Maybe I am using the wrong brand of baking powder. I mix very thoroughly but it doesn’t seem to matter.

  6. Hey thank you so much… Even I had gone through with the same problem.. Tablespoons ! Dis is the mistake by chefs who give out the recipes

  7. I, too, just encountered this problem. I noticed that my cookies had a slight metallic aftertaste (I still punished them), and looked at the can. Sure enough, it’s Clobber Girl. Not to day that their product is terrible. But I suppose that I am sensitive to the taste. I don’t have any other opinions for comparison, however, since I live alone.

  8. Thanks so much for this – I’ve been tasting this a lot and my daughter refuses to eat my baking. I use “Magic Baking Powder” and although it doesn’t have aluminum listed, I still taste the bitterness. So I”m still confused …

  9. Thanks for posting. My mother-in-law has been complaining that some of my baked goods taste bitter. Now I know why. We use the Clabber Girl product. Looks like I need to buy something different.

  10. Thank you. I made my first muffins with Almond flour. My baking powder does not have sodium aluminum, it’s sodium bicarbonate, but I may have used a tablespoon instead of tsp. I was trying to find out if its the taste of the almond flour but maybe the powder that’s the culprit. Will experiment.

  11. My daughter’s recent baking has had tiny white lumps which we all find unbelievably bitter when eaten. Turns out it was due to a store brand can of baking powder with sodium aluminum sulfate. We usually buy Rumford and will make sure to do so in the future! Thanks for the post!

  12. Thank you for this post I made cupcakes and frost them than I taste them and they had kind of a bitter taste I thought it was because of the baking soda but I didn’t know why.😊

  13. I’ve been trying to figure out why I had a tingling/burning sensation after using a baking powder/oil/water mix as an egg white substitute (egg intolerance). You post has been very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to post. I”ll be switching out the the Rumford brand.

  14. I couldnt figure out why my toungue tingled and my mouth went dry when i bit into one of my baked goods, but now i know!

  15. I just noticed had the bitter test on my almond bread. I will ditch the bitter brand of baking soda immediately. Thanks for the insight.

  16. Our family has been getting bites of a horrid, chemically lemon flavor in our waffles. I’ve thrown out all ingredients and bought new. It was still there. My husband made sure the baking soda was mixed well and not clumped., and the flavor still occurred. Such a sad mystery for us! So thank you very much for posting this. We will try using aluminium free baking soda next time.

  17. Thank you! The waffle recipe I used today had the baking powder listed as 2 tablespoons, which seemed excessive to me. Flour amount was 2 cups. They were good, but I was aware of a slight baking powder taste. Next batch I am reducing the amount of baking powder. And I am also buying new baking powder without sodium aluminum sulfate…

    Again, thank you.

  18. I baked a chocolate cake recently, however I added 1/2 tspn of baking powder for 1 and a 1/2 cups of flour. What do you think could be the problem. Also my baking powder is hard and could that be it???

  19. My husband couldn’t find the salty or the bitter taste but I could… Should I get a fresh packet of baking powder???.

  20. Thank you so much for posting this! I made a large batch of cupcakes for a party and sampled one. It tasted so bitter, I was going to toss out the entire batch. However, I asked my friend to sample one and she said they were delicious and not bitter at all. I started worrying about what was wrong with me. Most google pages pointed to expired baking soda or some even said it could be due to GERD. I am so relieved to find your post…
    I always use a non-aluminum baking powder but I was out of it and used Clabber girl which was all I could find at the nearby grocery store.
    Mystery solved – I am sensitive to “sodium aluminum sulfate”…who knew!

  21. Thanks for taking the time and effort to post this. It’s very helpful. My tastes have often been more sensitive to baking powder than others been researching to understand why. This was a great summary of the effect and taste.

  22. Wow thank you for this ….I just bought new baking soda and baking flour and use it for pancakes …I got the bitter taste in my mouth.. I almost the baking flour… Until I saw your post..it was the baking soda that is guilty.. 10years after

  23. Thank you! I been baking banana bread and it always has a bitter taste Im going to check out the measurements I bet they are wrong. Many many thanks

  24. Thank you for poosting this! I made pancakes and some batch tasted
    sour . I knew it was the baking powder! And thanks for the information about non-aluminum baking powder. God bless you.

  25. I use aluminum free baking powder and often only put in half the amount called for in the recipe because the taste is horrible! Even with only 1 or even half a teaspoon the taste (to me and others in my family too) is just disgusting, strong and the food is not edible. What is going on?!

  26. Well, well, I thought it was only me as my husband can.never taste the unpleasant after taste of the baker powder. It actually makes my tongue rough and thick. How very strange.
    Thank you so much for explains about the difference in baking powders. I’m very grateful.

  27. Thank you so much, this was very helpful. It took me a while to find out why my baking goods were coming out bitter. God bless you

  28. Thank you for this post. I made a lemon drizzle cake which tingled and had a bitter aftertaste which wasn’t like lemon. Would it just be better to use self raising flour?

  29. OMG!!!! So glad I found this page! I’ve baked a couple of cakes for my boyfriend who loves cake! One was a strawberry cake and he said it had a taste of metal. I didn’t really taste it, but I gave it away anyway to someone who said it was delicious. I made a red velvet cake that didn’t call for baking powder and he literally ate the entire cake within 3 days. It was delicious. However, when I tried another recipe for vanilla cake, he tried it and said he tasted that metallically taste again. He started thinking he was developing some sort of serious medical condition or food allergy (because of course that’s what happens when we go to Dr. Google). When I tried a slice of it, I immediately had a horrible bitter taste that made my mouth numb and I couldn’t rid rid of it, even after drinking water and brushing my teeth and tongue. I threw out the entire cake and could not figure out what had happened. This page made me think about it and both of those recipes called for baking powder, but the red velvet cake did not. When I ran to look at my baking powder, I see that it has the culprit sodium aluminum in it! Definitely purchasing some without it and going to try it again! Thanks so much for this article!

  30. Thanks for the post!✝️My husband thinks I’m trying to poison him!😂. I’ve made pancakes and now lemon bread only to take ALL that time to bake and still get that horrible bitter acid taste that my whole family taste (yep it has SAS in it ugghhhh😡😭)

  31. Oh thank you! I just made my 1st glutten free pancake and turn out kinda bitter. Almost blame the healthy ingeidients.. but turns out this baking powder. Really usefull post even after more than 10 years… thank you! ❤️

  32. In recent googling, I also found that baking at higher elevations may play role in how much baking soda you need in a recipe (i.e. if you follow the recipe, you may be adding too much if you live above 4,000ft). I’ve been baking with non-aluminum baking soda, following the correct dosage but still getting the metallic taste, so I am going to start using 25% less and see what happens since I live at 7,000ft.

  33. Very helpful. My oldest daughter loves my pancakes but always seems to find the bitter one. I’ll try switching from my store brand and find one without AL

  34. A million thanks, I recently started to supply meat pies, and my son and I taste bitterness after eating the pie, while others didnt, now I know the reason. Your findings is very helpful

  35. Thanks for sharing this. Today was my first time baking. The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of baking soda as well, so I ended up with a bitter CARROT CAKE. At first I couldn’t figure out what went wrong, but as I was checking the ingredients that I used, I immediately thought of baking soda. I got confirmation from my aunt and my dad that the recipe I followed was wrong. My aunt recommended using baking powder or cream of tartar instead.

  36. I have been baking with baking powder and baking soda that does not have aluminium. And it would still give a bitter taste if you add too much in your recipe. So according to my experience, the quantity matters a lot.

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