Cream of tartar is a popular ingredient in many recipes.
Also known as potassium bitartrate, cream of tartar is the powdered form of tartaric acid. This organic acid is found naturally in many plants and is also formed during the winemaking process.
Cream of tartar helps stabilize whipped egg whites, prevents sugar from crystallizing, and acts as a leavening agent for baked goods.
If you’re halfway through a recipe and find that you don’t have any cream of tartar on hand, there are plenty of suitable replacements.
This article discusses 6 of the best substitutes for cream of tartar.
1. Lemon juice
Cream of tartar is often used to stabilize egg whites and helps provide the characteristic high peaks in recipes like meringue.
If you’re out of cream of tartar in a case like this, lemon juice works as a great substitute.
Lemon juice provides the same acidity as cream of tartar, helping to form stiff peaks when you’re whipping egg whites.
If you’re making syrups or frostings, lemon juice can also replace cream of tartar to help prevent crystallization.
For best results, substitute an equal amount of lemon juice for the cream of tartar in your recipe.
Summary: In recipes in which cream of tartar is used to stabilize egg whites or prevent crystallization, use an equal amount of lemon juice instead.
2. White vinegar
Like cream of tartar, white vinegar is acidic. It can be swapped for cream of tartar when you find yourself in a pinch in the kitchen.
This substitute works best when you’re stabilizing egg whites for recipes like soufflés and meringues.
Simply use an equal amount of white vinegar in place of cream of tartar when you’re whipping egg whites.
Keep in mind that white vinegar may not be a good alternative for baked goods like cakes, as it may alter the taste and texture.
Summary: White vinegar is acidic and can be used to help stabilize egg whites. You can substitute cream of tartar with an equal amount of white vinegar.
3. Baking powder
If your recipe contains both baking soda and cream of tartar, you can easily substitute with baking powder instead.
This is because baking powder is made up of sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid, also known as baking soda and cream of tartar, respectively.
You can use 1.5 teaspoons (6 grams) of baking powder to replace 1 teaspoon (3.5 grams) of cream of tartar.
This substitution is ideal because it can be used in any recipe without modifying the taste or texture of the final product.
Summary: Baking powder can be used to replace cream of tartar in recipes that also contain baking soda. Substitute 1.5 teaspoons (6 grams) of baking powder for 1 teaspoon (3.5 grams) of cream of tartar.
Buttermilk is the liquid that is left behind after churning butter from cream.
Because of its acidity, buttermilk can work as a replacement for cream of tartar in some recipes.
It works especially well in baked goods, but some liquid needs to be removed from the recipe to account for the buttermilk.
For each 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of cream of tartar in the recipe, remove 1/2 cup (120 ml) of liquid from the recipe and replace it with 1/2 cup (120 ml) of buttermilk.
Summary: Buttermilk can make a suitable replacement for cream of tartar in recipes, especially in baked goods. For each 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of cream of tartar, remove 1/2 cup (120 ml) of liquid from the recipe and replace it with 1/2 cup (120 ml) of buttermilk.
Like buttermilk, yogurt is acidic and can be used to replace cream of tartar in some recipes.
Before you use yogurt as a substitute, thin it out with a bit of milk to match the consistency of buttermilk, then use it to replace cream of tartar in the same way.
Reserve this substitution primarily for baked goods, as it requires you to remove liquids from the recipe.
For every 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of cream of tartar, remove 1/2 cup (120 ml) of liquid from the recipe and replace it with 1/2 cup (120 ml) of yogurt that has been thinned out with milk.
Summary: Yogurt is acidic and can be used as a replacement for cream of tartar in baked goods. First, thin out the yogurt with milk, then remove 1/2 cup (120 ml) of liquid in the recipe and replace it with 1/2 cup (120 ml) of yogurt for every 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of cream of tartar.
6. Leave it out
In some recipes, it may be easier to omit the cream of tartar than find a substitute for it.
For example, if you’re using cream of tartar to stabilize whipped egg whites, it’s okay to leave out the cream of tartar if you don’t have any on hand.
Additionally, if you’re making syrup, frosting, or icing and using the cream of tartar to prevent crystallization, you can omit it from the recipe without dire consequences.
Although syrups may crystallize eventually if stored for a long period, you can fix this by simply reheating them on the stove or in the microwave.
On the other hand, it may not be a good idea to leave out cream of tartar or a substitute for baked goods that require a leavening agent.
Summary: In some recipes, cream of tartar can be left out if there is no suitable replacement. You can simply omit cream of tartar from the recipe if you’re making whipped egg whites, syrups, frostings, or icings.
Cream of tartar is a common ingredient that’s found in a variety of recipes.
However, if you’re in a pinch, there are plenty of substitutes available.
Alternatively, you may be able to omit the cream of tartar altogether.
By making a few minor modifications to your recipes, it’s easy to stabilize egg whites, add volume to baked goods and prevent crystallization in syrups without cream of tartar.