9 Easy Cream Of Tartar Substitute Swaps 

 Last Update December 28, 2023

By Jenny Zhang

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Cream of tartar is the powdered form of tartaric acid or potassium bitartrate. Recognized for its capability to stabilize whipped egg whites and inhibit sugar crystallization, this fine white powder of cream of tartar is well-known in baking. But what happens when this essential ingredient is missing from your kitchen shelves when you need it most? Whether it's for a forgotten ingredient in your pantry or a desire for experimentation, having alternatives at your fingertips can be a game-changer.

In this post, we will explore alternative options for the best cream of tartar substitutes. These stand-ins, often hidden in plain sight, possess the potential to rescue your recipes and elevate your culinary creations. Whether you're whipping up meringues, baking tender cookies, or concocting a creamy frosting, the cream of tartar substitutes awaits, promising a smooth and delectable outcome.

9 Best Cream Of Tartar Substitutes

White Vinegar

White vinegar stands out as an excellent cream of tartar substitute, particularly in baking endeavors. When replicating the acidic properties of cream of tartar, white vinegar takes the spotlight. For each 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar required in a recipe, simply substitute it with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. This vinegar not only provides the necessary acidity but also aids in activating leavening agents like baking soda. It's a simple substitution with a one-to-one ratio, easily incorporated into various baked goods.

When you use white vinegar as a cream of tartar substitute, your recipe demands a slightly tangy or acidic element. It works exceptionally well in recipes like meringues, where the cream of tartar contributes to helping stabilize egg whites, or in creating homemade buttermilk by adding it to milk. With its accessibility and versatility, white vinegar is a dependable solution when the cream of tartar is absent from your kitchen shelves.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice emerges as a stellar cream of tartar substitute in baking, especially when you're seeking a touch of citrusy acidity. To substitute for every 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar called for in a recipe, you can effortlessly replace it with one teaspoon of lemon juice. The beauty of lemon juice lies in its ability to mimic the tartness of cream of tartar while infusing a delightful citrus flavor into your creations.

Lemon juice's versatility shines through in recipes that benefit from a zesty twist. It serves as an excellent option for meringues, particularly in situations where cream of tartar contributes to stabilizing egg whites. Additionally, lemon juice can elevate the flavor profile of various desserts, imparting a refreshing tang that pairs well with sweets. When cream of tartar is scarce, and a hint of citrus brightness is desired, lemon juice becomes a reliable and flavorful substitute.

Baking Powder

When your recipe calls for cream of tartar and baking soda as a leavening agent, consider baking powder as a suitable substitute. While cream of tartar primarily imparts acidity to recipes, baking powder encompasses both an acid (usually cream of tartar) and a base (typically baking soda). This dual-action nature allows baking powder to mimic the acidity of cream of tartar while also providing the leavening power of baking soda.

When substituting cream of tartar with baking powder, use a 2:1 ratio. Substitute one teaspoon of baking powder for every 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar required in the recipe. Keep in mind that baking powder may already be a component in your recipe, so adjust accordingly to avoid over-leavening.

Replacing cream of tartar with baking powder is most suitable in recipes where leavening and a touch of acidity are needed simultaneously, such as in various baked goods like cakes, muffins, and pancakes. Its convenience and effectiveness make it a go-to choice when the cream of tartar is absent from your kitchen.

Yogurt

Yogurt presents itself as an intriguing cream of tartar substitute in the world of baking, particularly when you're looking to incorporate a hint of tanginess and leavening power. To replace 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar in a recipe, simply use 1/2 teaspoon of yogurt. It's a straightforward one-to-one swap.

The beauty of yogurt lies in its ability to provide acidity and moisture simultaneously, making it an ideal choice for recipes like pancakes, muffins, and quick breads. The tangy flavor it imparts can also enhance the overall taste of your baked goods, especially when paired with other complementary ingredients. Yogurt's accessibility in most kitchens makes it a convenient solution when the cream of tartar isn't on hand, offering both acidity and a unique flavor profile to your culinary creations.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk emerges as a fantastic cream of tartar substitute in baking, primarily due to its natural acidity and tangy flavor profile. To substitute for 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar in a recipe, you can use 1/2 cup of buttermilk. This one-to-one substitution maintains the necessary acidity while introducing the distinctive taste of buttermilk into your baked goods.

Buttermilk's versatility shines in recipes like pancakes, biscuits, and cakes, providing the required acidity for leavening and imparting a pleasant tang that enhances the overall flavor.

Furthermore, the creamy consistency of buttermilk enhances the moisture and tenderness of your baked creations. When cream of tartar is unavailable, buttermilk becomes a readily accessible and flavorful alternative, elevating your baking endeavors with its unique characteristics.

Plain Yogurt and Baking Powder

Plain yogurt and baking powder combine to form a versatile cream of tartar substitute in baking. This duo offers both acidity and leavening power, making it an effective choice when you're out of cream of tartar. To replace 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, use 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 cup of plain yogurt. This substitution maintains the required acidity for leavening while introducing the moisture and tangy flavor of yogurt.

The beauty of this combination lies in its ability to enhance the texture and taste of your baked goods. Adding yogurt introduces a creamy richness, while the baking powder ensures the necessary leavening. It's a convenient alternative for recipes like pancakes, muffins, and quick breads, where a touch of tang and leavening power are desired. When cream of tartar is absent, this yogurt and baking powder duo steps in to ensure your baking creations remain light and flavorful.

Molasses

Molasses emerges as a unique yet effective cream of tartar substitute in baking, particularly when you're looking to add depth and a hint of sweetness to your recipes. For a substitution of 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, you can opt for 1 1/2 teaspoons of molasses. This substitution maintains the required acidity while infusing a rich molasses flavor into your baked goods.

The advantage of using molasses is its ability to impart a distinctive taste and aroma to your creations. It works exceptionally well in recipes like gingerbread cookies and cakes, where its robust flavor complements the other ingredients.

Additionally, molasses adds moisture and a subtle sweetness, contributing to your baked treats' overall texture and richness. When cream of tartar is not on hand, molasses is a flavorful alternative, elevating your baking with its unique characteristics.

Egg Whites

Egg whites serve as an unexpected yet effective cream of tartar substitute for baking. For a 1/2 teaspoon replacement of cream of tartar, consider using two egg whites. This substitution is particularly useful in recipes where the acidic properties of cream of tartar are required to stabilize and add structure to beaten egg whites, such as meringues and angel food cakes.

The advantage of using egg whites as a cream of tartar substitute lies in their ability to create stable, voluminous peaks when whipped. Cream of tartar is often used to achieve this in recipes, but egg whites can fulfill the same role. The proteins in egg whites help trap air and form a stable foam, making them an ideal choice when you're out of cream of tartar. Whether you're whipping up a light and airy meringue or a delicate angel food cake, egg whites provide the necessary structure and stability for your baking endeavors.

Alum

Alum, while not a commonly used ingredient in everyday baking, can serve as an effective cream of tartar substitute in specific situations. To substitute 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, you can use 1/4 teaspoon of alum. This substitution is particularly useful in recipes where cream of tartar's acidic properties are needed to stabilize and leaven egg whites, such as meringues and angel food cakes.

Alum, also known as potassium aluminum sulfate, shares some acidic properties with cream of tartar, making it a suitable alternative in a pinch. It helps create stable, voluminous peaks when whipping egg whites, which is essential for achieving the desired texture in meringues and similar dishes.

However, it's essential to note that alum has a distinct taste and can be bitter if used excessively, so it's best reserved for recipes where its unique characteristics won't overpower the dish's flavors. When cream of tartar is unavailable, alum becomes a functional substitute for your baking needs.


Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.