Ammonia smell/taste in Low Carb Keto Baking and Baking Soda

Getting into Keto is what got me try my hand at cooking for the first time in 30 years. I actually ruined 3 recipes working around almond/coconut flour before I realised this trick, which probably most of you know already, but if not, maybe I’ll save you a coconut bread loaf.

This applies to low carb keto recipes, especially those we directly convert from a regular ingredients recipe. 

So if you’re trying your hand at baking something low carb (coconut flour, almond meal, and such) and are using Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda) you might have encountered this issue: the whole final result smells like ammonia and tastes soapy. That’s cause the mix is too alkaline and needs to be balanced out by an acid.

In regular recipes this is done by ingredients such as maple syrup, molasses, buttermilk, because they are acidic. When we convert such recipe to low carb we need to accommodate the lack of those acidic ingredients if we still want to use baking soda. So the easiest way to do that is to counteract the Baking Soda alkaline effect with something acidic such as Lemon JuiceApple Cider Vinegar or Cream of Tartar (the latter being what makes for Baking powder in a ratio 1:2 with baking soda).

If you add THREE times the amount of Baking Soda in Vinegar / Lemon Juice / Cream of Tartar (sometimes up to six times, and add AFTER you mixed thoroughly the baking soda to your dough) you will get the reaction that will act as a leaving agent in your baked goods, yet your final result won’t taste like lemon nor ammonia, they will just counteract each other perfectly and work perfectly as a leaving agent.
So there you go, if you ever encountered this problem, now it’s sorted hopefully :)

REMEMBER: 1 part Baking Soda : 3+ part Acid


  1. This is the only info on the internet about the problem. I just found out about this, when I tried to make egg cheese bread, for the first time. I think the smell will keep me from making it, for awhile, which is good, cause I have to eat just beef till my arthritis symptoms subside. Thank you for the valuable information. BTW, it also gave my "bread" a greenish colour. I tested with baking it for a longer time on a lower setting, and in some parts the colour went away along with the smell.

  2. Thanks for this. Just made a batch of almond flour bread and it smells like pee.

  3. Finally!! I have had this issue with every single gluten free loaf I have made and it is getting so expensive. I followed the recipe exactly but every one has this super strong ammonia smell. I will try increasing the amount of ACV and pray. I cannot afford to keep trying and binning them as all these gluten free ingredients are so expensive!!Is it still safe to eat even though it smells bad?


    This is the recipe, can you tell me how much vinegar I should out in, I only used 1 tsp of baking powder though! and the full amount of vinegar but it still stinks. I can eat it but only juts about, is it safe to eat even if it smells?


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