We’ve all had that moment when we’re in the middle of preparing a recipe, and we suddenly realize we don’t have all the ingredients we need on hand. This is especially true when you’re baking bread and find that you have no yeast. In times like this, it’s good to be prepared with alternatives or to have the know how to make your own.

If you’re in a tight spot or you just want to try a new method for baking homemade bread, you’ve come to the right place. First, we’ll address the question of whether or not you can make your own yeast at home. Then we will highlight the most common substitutes for yeast as well as the steps you should take to prepare your own with supplies you probably already have.

Can You Make Your Own Yeast at Home?

Why buy yeast at the store when you can make your own at home? If you don’t have any yeast, you can make some yourself with just a few simple ingredients. Though the task may sound daunting to the uninitiated who haven’t tried it yet, it’s actually quite easy. With just a little practice, you can be making delicious bread in no time.

Using Baking Powder Instead of Yeast

Baking powder can work as a powerful leavening agent, if it is properly mixed with liquid and heat. You’ll also need each of the following ingredients to make a basic loaf of bread. Remember, however, that this works with more complex recipes as well.

  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Bread Flour
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Water

This is the simplest way to make bread without yeast because the amount of baking powder you should use corresponds directly with how much yeast your recipe calls for. Essentially, this just means that if your recipe calls for, say, three teaspoons of yeast, you should use three teaspoons of baking powder.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use a fancy recipe to make this method work. As long as you have the ingredients listed above, you’ve got all you need for a basic dough.

That said, most complex bread recipes that use yeast are also fully adaptable to baking powder, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

How to Use Baking Soda and Buttermilk Instead of Yeast

If you don’t have any yeast, but you do have baking soda and buttermilk, you can still bake flavorful bread. Often, bread made in this manner is referred to as Soda Bread.

It would be prudent to point out here that baking soda and baking powder are not interchangeable. If you only have the latter, you should check out the previous section.

You can use the same recipes that call for yeast to make soda bread. Simply divide the amount of yeast the recipe calls for in half and use that number to be the amount of baking soda and buttermilk you need individually. In other words, they should add together to equal the amount of yeast the recipe calls for.

Buttermilk not your thing? That’s quite alright, as you can also use other acidic ingredients like lemon juice or a mixture of vinegar and milk, and it will work just as well. Essentially you’ll want to follow the same process you did once you had combined the baking soda and the buttermilk.

How To Make Yeast From Dry Fruit

One simple way to make yeast is to use dry fruit like raisins, prunes, or dates. You’ll also want purified water, a small jar, and of course, your standard measuring devices. Also, don’t forget to have a warm place ready where you can set out your mixture for one to two days.

  1. Place your dried fruit of choice into a jar. This is the primary place where the mixing will happen.
  2. Add 2 tbs or 30 ml of water into the jar and begin to stir gently. Please note that purified water will work better than that which you get directly out of the tap. Tap water usually contains small levels of chlorine, which are not conducive to making yeast.
  3. Add about as much flour as the material you already have in the jar and continue to mix.
    Place the mixture in a warm area and wait 24 to 48 hours, or until it becomes a pasty material. If you check on your project before it has finished its transformation, you may see bubbles forming. Just note that that is completely normal and means things are working correctly.
  4. Once the mixture is nice and pasty, add 1 tbsp of water into the mix. This time, it doesn’t matter if you use tap water, as the yeast is already formed. You should now be able to use it, just the same way you’d use normal yeast.

How to Make a Sourdough Starter

If you have some time, you should consider making a sourdough starter, as you can reuse it again and again to bake more bread. Sourdough bread is famous for its rich aroma and flavor. This is the kind of bread you should be using to impress guests with your incredible baking skills.

Before you get started, make sure that you have the all purpose flour, purified water, and a glass container such as a mason jar.

We’ve made things easy for you with our step by step guide to making a sourdough starter below. Please bear in mind that this is one of the more lengthy processes, and each step represents a day. If you’re set on baking bread today, you may want to try one of the previous sections instead.

  1. On the first day, you should mix 1/2 cup of flour with ½ cup of water and put a loose cover of plastic wrap over your jar. Before you let it sit, make sure you stir these together so that they mix nicely. You’ll also want to make sure that you keep them in a place that is room temperature or close to it.
  2. On the second day, when bubbles begin to emerge you should add another half cup of both ingredients and seal the jar tighter this time.
  3. Repeat step two on the third day. If bubbles aren’t emerging by now, you probably made a mistake earlier in the process and should start over. Don’t worry, it’s completely normal to make simple mistakes the first time you try this process.
  4. Again, repeat the same steps. At this point you should be getting lots of bubbles and good aroma. Also, you should notice significant growth.
  5. By day five your sourdough is now ready for use! Please note that you don’t have to use all of it, and you can maintain a supply by repeating the day two steps with your leftover material.

So, What Exactly Can You Use Instead of Yeast?

If you don’t have any yeast on hand, you still have plenty of options when it comes to baking bread. You can use anything from dried fruits to baking powder to buttermilk to aid you in the process of making bread without yeast. 

It’s also good to note that you can simply make your own yeast. There are excellent ways to do this, which range from using dried fruit to creating a sourdough starter that can be reused time and time again. However, making Fast Easy Bread with Instant Yeast in one of our Bread Bundles is still my favorite choice. So now the only question is, which method will you be trying today? 

Happy Baking!