Cream of Tartar Substitute

Cream of Tartar Substitute. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Cream of tartar is the powdered form of tartaric acid, a substance that forms at the bottom of barrels when making wine. It is added to recipes for three reasons:

  • To stabilize egg whites, when whipping them for meringue. It's the ingredient that helps meringue maintain its high peaks, even after a trip through the oven. 
  • To act as a leavening agent in cookies, pancakes and other yeast-free baked goods. Combine cream of tartar with baking soda, and you get a chemical reaction that makes your treats fluffier.
  • To prevent the sugar in frostings, icings and syrups from crystallizing. In the case of frostings and icings, this results in a creamier texture.

Cream of Tartar Substitutes

If you don't have any cream of tartar in your pantry, you can use one of these substitutes in its place:

For beating egg whites - Use an equal amount of white vinegar or lemon juice, or omit the cream of tartar from the recipe entirely

As a leavening agent - Replace the baking soda and the cream of tartar called for in the recipe with baking powder. Use one teaspoon of baking powder to replace 1/3 tsp of baking soda and 2/3 tsp of cream of tartar. Since baking powder is really just a mix of cream of tartar and baking soda, this substitution won't change your recipe at all.

For frostings and syrups - Leave the cream of tartar out. No substitution is necessary.

View All Ingredient Substitutions

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