What can be used in pizza instead of yeast?

Yeast is a key ingredient in pizza dough, as it helps the dough rise and develop that familiar chewy, airy texture. However, sometimes home pizza makers find themselves without yeast on hand when a pizza craving strikes. Luckily, there are a few handy substitutes for yeast that can be used to make pizza dough rise in a pinch.

Quick Answers

Here are some quick answers to what can substitute yeast in pizza dough:

  • Baking powder – Add around 1 teaspoon per cup of flour
  • Self-rising flour – Swap all-purpose flour for self-rising at a 1:1 ratio
  • Club soda – Use fizzy water in place of still water when making the dough
  • Yogurt – Substitute around 1/4 cup yogurt per cup of flour
  • Sourdough starter – Replace up to half the flour with active sourdough starter

Baking Powder

Baking powder is a quick and easy yeast substitute. Simply add around 1 teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour in your pizza dough recipe. The chemical leavening agents in baking powder will help the dough rise without the need for yeast.

Baking powder contains both an acid (cream of tartar) and a base (baking soda). When mixed with water, these ingredients produce carbon dioxide bubbles that cause the dough to inflate. The resulting pizza crust will be lighter and fluffier than one made strictly with flour and water, but it won’t have quite the complex flavor or chewy texture of yeast-leavened dough.

When substituting baking powder for yeast, it’s best to use your pizza dough soon after mixing, as the leavening power of baking powder will diminish quickly over time. The dough can be shaped and topped immediately and baked once it has risen slightly. Expect it to take about half the time to rise versus regular yeast dough.

Using around 1 teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour is a good starting point. From there, you can experiment with slightly more or less baking powder to achieve your ideal pizza crust texture.

Self-Rising Flour

Self-rising flour already has leavening agents mixed into it, making it another handy yeast substitute. To use it for pizza dough, simply swap self-rising flour in place of regular all-purpose flour using a 1:1 ratio.

Self-rising flour contains both salt and chemical leaveners like baking powder. These ingredients help the dough puff up and develop a tender, cake-like crumb. As with baking powder dough, expect self-rising pizza dough to be lighter in texture but have less chewiness than yeast dough.

Be sure to check the expiration date on self-rising flour before using, as the leavening power can diminish over time. Avoid letting the dough sit too long before baking, as it will start to deflate. For best results, shape and top the pizza soon after mixing the dough and let it proof briefly before baking.

The swap of self-rising for all-purpose is the only change needed to your regular pizza dough recipe when using this yeast substitute. Use the same amount of liquid and salt. The texture will be slightly different but still tasty!

Club Soda

The carbonation and bubbles in club soda can give pizza dough a lift without yeast. To utilize this, simply use club soda or another sparkling water in place of regular water when mixing your dough.

About 1 cup of club soda per 3 cups of flour is a good starting ratio. You can tweak the amounts as needed based on how bubbly you want the crust.

The carbon dioxide released from the club soda produces gas bubbles in the dough that cause it to inflate and take on a porous texture. Without yeast, the resulting pizza crust will be thinner and crispier than typical pan or deep dish pizzas. But the club soda gives it some rise.

Let the club soda dough rest for 5-10 minutes after mixing to allow the initial bubbles to form. Then you can press it out thin, top it, and bake immediately. The dough won’t have time to rise much, so focus on getting it super thin and crisp. Sprinkle cornmeal under the crust to help mimic a traditional pizza texture.

While club soda dough won’t mimic the exact taste and chew of yeast dough, it can produce a tasty thin crust pizza base in a time crunch!


Plain yogurt can be used to add some rise to pizza dough, even without yeast. The lactic acid present in yogurt produces carbon dioxide bubbles that inflate the dough. The tangy flavor of yogurt also adds some complexity to the crust.

Substitute about 1/4 cup of plain yogurt per cup of flour in your pizza dough recipe. You may need to tweak moisture levels slightly, as the thickness of yogurt can vary across brands. Aim for a dough consistency that is soft and slightly sticky.

Let the yogurt dough rest and rise for at least 30 minutes after mixing. This allows time for the yogurt to react with the flour and produce bubbles. The dough will slowly increase in size as the bubbles inflate it from within.

Compared to yeast dough, expect a flatter and denser texture with more moisture. The tartness of yogurt also comes through in the flavor. Herbs, garlic, or other mix-ins can balance out the tang.

While it won’t mimic traditional pizza dough, yogurt can be used in a pinch to make a flatbread-style crust that still tastes great topped with veggies, meats, and cheese!

Sourdough Starter

For home bakers with an active sourdough starter on hand, it can be used as a substitute for commercial yeast in pizza dough.

Sourdough starter contains wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria. When mixed with flour and water, these microbes produce bubbles that cause the dough to swell and rise. The lactic acid also gives the crust a characteristic tang.

Substitute up to half the flour in a pizza dough recipe with an equal amount of active sourdough starter. So if the recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, use 1.5 cups flour and 1.5 cups starter. You may need to adjust moisture levels slightly to achieve a smooth, elastic dough.

Let the dough proof for several hours, as the wild yeast in sourdough needs more time to produce gas than commercial yeast. The longer fermentation also develops complex flavors.

Compared to typical pizza crust, sourdough crust will have a flatter, denser chew and noticeable sour taste. The characteristics can vary based on your individual starter. Adapt recipes as needed to achieve your preferred texture and tang.

With some advance planning and a mature sourdough starter, you can make delicious pizza crust without commercial yeast!

Dry Active Yeast

While dry active yeast needs to be dissolved and activated before use, it has a much longer shelf life than fresh compressed yeast. Keep packets of dry yeast in the pantry to make pizza whenever the craving strikes, without running to the store for perishable yeast cakes.

Active dry yeast consists of live yeast cells that are dehydrated and dormant. When mixed with warm water, the cells rehydrate and become active. Sugar is often added to the water to feed the yeast and jumpstart fermentation.

Let the activated yeast mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy, then mix into the dry ingredients. This “proofing” step confirms the yeast is alive before adding it to dough.

The rising, leavening, and flavor impact of dry yeast is the same as fresh once rehydrated – producing a puffy, chewy crust with complex notes. Just be sure to check expiration dates, and don’t use yeast that has become stale.

With proper storage and activation, dry active yeast lets you make authentic-tasting pizza dough on demand with ingredients you likely have in your pantry already.

Quick Yeast

Another option for pizza dough when fresh yeast cakes are unavailable is instant or quick-rise yeast. This commercial yeast is formulated to activate faster than active dry varieties.

Quick yeast contains live yeast microbes that are encapsulated with sugars, salts, and acids. This protective coating allows the yeast to rapidly swell and kickstart fermentation as soon as it contacts liquid ingredients, without needing to be hydrated and proofed first.

Use quick yeast straight from the package in your recipe – no activating step required. Simply mix with the dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients as usual.

While quick yeast eliminates the proofing step, you’ll still need to let the dough rise after mixing to develop its structure, flavors, and melting texture. Just expect the first rise to happen quicker – around half the time of typical active dry yeast.

The fast-acting performance of quick yeast makes it ideal for pizza dough when you’ve got a craving to satisfy. Just keep it sealed and refrigerated for maximum longevity and effectiveness.

Baking Soda

For an absolutely last minute pizza crust option using on-hand ingredients, baking soda can work in a pinch. When baking soda mixes with moisture and an acidic ingredient, it produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that make dough rise.

Use around 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda per 2 cups of flour. Also add something acidic like lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk to activate the release of CO2.

Expect a flatter, denser crust with a distinct salty flavor from the baking soda. The texture won’t mimic yeasted pizza dough, but can still hold tasty toppings.

Due to the very minimal rise, aim to roll out the dough as thinly as possible. Top immediately after mixing and baking right away to maximize lift. Choose quick-melting toppings that don’t require a long bake.

While more of a last resort option than ideal substitute, baking soda can be used to make an edible homemade pizza crust when you have no yeast and need pizza now!


While yeast produces the quintessential pizza crust texture, there are a variety of leavening agents that can substitute in a pinch. Baking powder, baking soda, self-rising flour, club soda, yogurt, and sourdough starter can all add lift and air pockets to dough minus yeast.

The resulting crust may be denser, flatter, or leaner than yeasted pizza dough. But a sprinkle of cornmeal and cleverly-chosen toppings can still deliver on cravings!

Test out a couple yeast substitute options to find a homemade pizza dough method that fits your time constraints and taste preferences. With a little creativity in the kitchen, you can enjoy hot, fresh pizza anytime – even when the yeast supply is low.

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