If you’re in the middle of a recipe and find your spice rack is cream of tartar-less, these cream of tartar substitutes work wonderfully in a pinch!
From baking powder to buttermilk, these cream of tartar alternatives are readily available and easy to swap in.
Cream of tartar is an elusive baking ingredient that often pops up in things like macarons to help stabilize egg whites.
It also acts as a leveling agent in cakes and bread.
So, if you find yourself without, these cream of tartar substitutes are quick, easy, and likely already hanging out in your fridge or cupboards.
What is Cream of Tartar?
Cream of tartar is “potassium hydrogen tartrate,” a byproduct of the wine-making process. Found at the end of fermentation, this white powdery substance is left inside the barrels and harvested into cream of tartar. It’s acidic, like lemon juice or vinegar, and is often used in cleaning and baking.
What is Cream of Tartar Used For?
Cream of tartar is commonly used in baking to make cookies chewier and egg whites more billowy. It’s acidic, like lemon juice or vinegar, but doesn’t add flavor. Outside of the kitchen, it works as a powerful stain remover. It’s often used to lift difficult stains like coffee, wine, and even rust.
It also helps to prevent sugar from crystalizing. So, for incredibly smooth frosting, add a touch of cream of tartar!
The 6 Best Substitutes for Cream of Tartar
1. Baking Powder
Baking powder is one of the most accessible substitutes for cream of tartar, provided the recipe also calls for baking soda.
A blend of baking soda and cream of tartar, baking powder is well suited to cakes and cookies.
This is because it contains the exact ingredient you need an alternative for – just in lower quantities.
It’s perfect for baking as well as cake frosting.
Substitution: Replace 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder.
2. White Vinegar
As mentioned above, cream of tartar has acidic properties similar to vinegar or lemon juice.
However, white vinegar isn’t as acidic as cream of tartar, so you need to double the amount.
Swapping vinegar works better in baking for things like soufflés or stabilizing egg whites.
Unfortunately, since it has a strong flavor, it’s not ideal for things like frosting – because no one wants vanilla and vinegar buttercream!
Substitution: Replace 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 2 teaspoons of white vinegar.
3. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice works similarly to vinegar and makes an ideal alternative for cream of tartar in many cases.
The high acidic content of lemon juice is ideal for making cookies chewy and stabilizing egg whites.
It also works well at preventing frosting from crystalizing. Plus, it boasts a bright, citrusy flavor which is much more pleasant than vinegar!
Substitution: Use 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for every 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
Swapping out buttermilk is a little more complicated, but it has a very similar chemical makeup and acidity level to the cream of tartar.
Of course, the biggest difference between the two is that buttermilk is a liquid, and cream of tartar is a powder.
So, you’ll need to remove or reduce some of the liquids in your recipe.
For example, if a recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of tartar, you’ll need about a cup of buttermilk.
With that extra liquid, you’ll want to cut back on the oil, milk, or water in the recipe already.
Overall, it should be cut back by the same amount of buttermilk you’ve added (about a cup).
That way, it won’t alter the consistency of your bakes.
Substitution: Use 1/2 cup of buttermilk to replace 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
Yogurt has a comparable acidity level to cream of tartar and behaves very similarly once it hits the oven.
And as with buttermilk, you’ll need to remove an equal amount of liquid from your recipe to ensure that your cake batter isn’t too runny.
That said, you’ll also need to thin the yogurt with water or milk before it can be substituted. Add enough liquid to make the yogurt look like buttermilk.
It should be thick but pourable.
Substitution: Replace 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1/2 cup of thinned yogurt.
6. Corn Syrup
Corn syrup isn’t a great swap for baking cakes and cookies.
But it is a terrific way to prevent frosting from crystalizing (something cream of tartar is famous for).
Substitution: If a frosting recipe calls for 1 cup of granulated sugar, use 1/4 cup corn syrup and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar instead.
More Kitchen Substitutes To Try
Egg Yolk Substitutes
Baking Soda Substitutes
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