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The Best Cream Of Tartar Substitutes

Both lemon juice and vinegar can be substituted for cream of tartar.

Having a knowledge of cream of tartar substitutes can really come in handy when a recipe calls for it and but you don’t have any in your cupboard. But don’t worry, your baked good dreams aren’t dashed just yet! You can substitute a variety of other ingredients for it when you’re in a bind, and this post is all about what you can use instead of cream of tartar.

Substitutes for cream of tartar may change the flavor or texture of a recipe slightly.

What Is Cream Of Tartar?

Let’s start with a question that we’ve all asked ourselves at some point: “What is cream of tartar, anyway?” Cream of tartar, or potassium bitartrate, is an acidic white powder that is a byproduct of winemaking. It forms when the natural tartaric acids in grapes crystallizes during fermentation, and after being filtered out of the wine, it is processed into the powder we all know as cream of tartar.

Cream of tartar is often used as a stabilizing or leavening agent in baking, and perhaps is best known for being used to stabilize egg whites in meringues. It is also used in recipes to keep sugar from crystallizing, and it can even be used as a cleaning agent for brass and other metals.

While cream of tartar is certainly unique, there are other things you can use in its place in recipes that will perform a similar function. Below, we’ll explore what you can use as a replacement for cream of tartar.

The 5 Best Cream Of Tartar Substitutes

Vinegar can be substituted for cream of tartar in some recipes.

1. Vinegar

If you’re anything like me, you always have vinegar in your cupboard or pantry, making it highly convenient when you don’t have cream of tartar! Vinegar will provide the acidity needed to stabilize egg whites. To use it in place of cream of tartar in a recipe, simply use an equal amount of vinegar.

Lemon juice is another viable cream of tartar subsitute

2. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice also has the necessary acidity to stabilize egg whites, and it can also stop sugar from crystallizing in things like simple syrups and icing. (If you are making simple syrup, you can actually just leave out the cream of tartar or lemon juice out and warm it up if it starts crystallizing, like you’d do if your honey crystallized.)

Baking powder is one of the best substitutes for cream of tartar.

3. Baking Powder

Since baking powder is just a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar, you can substitute baking powder for cream of tartar with some calculations. Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder per 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar in your recipe, and use less salt than the recipe calls for, since the baking powder will add some saltiness.

This is a good option in that it won’t affect the taste or the texture of your recipe, but it’s not the right choice if you need a stabilizer for meringues or other egg dishes.

A container of Greek yogurt sitting on a counter.

4. Yogurt

You can replace cream of tartar with yogurt in baking recipes, but you’ll need to reduce the liquid in the recipe to compensate for the liquid in the yogurt. Use 1/2 cup of yogurt for every 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, and reduce whatever liquid the recipe calls for by 1/2 cup as well. (If that makes your mixture look too thick, add another splash of liquid until you achieve the desired consistency.)

A carton of meadowgold buttermilk sitting on a counter.

5. Buttermilk

If you make your own butter, you’ll always have buttermilk around that you can substitute for cream of tartar! Use 1/2 cup of buttermilk for each 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, and reduce the liquid in your recipe by whatever amount of buttermilk you use. (As you can imagine, this substitute is better suited to some recipes than others, so use your best judgment here!)

Cream of tartar has a lot of uses around the house, so keep it on hand and you won't need a substitute for cream of tartar.

Why You Should Keep Cream Of Tartar In The Cupboard

While having cream of tartar in your cupboard will certainly eliminate the need to scramble for a substitute in the future, it’s also just a useful thing to have around the house! You can use a dash of cream of tartar to add a tangy flavor and chewy texture to cookies like snickerdoodles, and it’s even a fantastic metal and porcelain cleaner.

In fact, there are lots of ways to use cream of tartar around the house, including as an ant repellent!

And as I mentioned earlier, baking powder is a combination of cream of tartar and baking soda, so if you every need baking powder and don’t have any, you can replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar. Handy!

Have you ever needed a cream of tartar substitute?

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