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Substitution for Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar is often used in dessert recipes but there are easy substitutions for cream of tartar if you don’t have it on hand.

Cream of tartar is a byproduct of wine production.  It is actually tartaric acid and the residue left on the barrels from the winemaking process. 

It is most commonly used as a leavener.  When it’s combined with baking soda, they produce carbon dioxide gas which is the same gas that’s produced by yeast in bread baking. 

It is also often added to egg whites to boost the strength of the individual air bubbles.  This helps provide the characteristic high peaks in recipes like meringue.

When added to simple syrup, it keeps it smooth by preventing it from developing crystals.  This is especially necessary when making candies.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a good substitution for cream of tartar since it provides the same acidity. 

It can be used in snickerdoodles without cream of tartar and to help form stiff peaks when whipping egg whites.

It can also help prevent crystallization when making syrups or frostings.

For every 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar in the recipe, use 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

White Vinegar

White vinegar also provides the same acidity as cream of tartar so it can be a decent substitution for Cream of Tartar.  However, it may alter the taste and texture of baked goods like cakes.

This substitution works best for stabilizing egg whites for recipes meringues.

For every 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar in the recipe, use 1 teaspoon white vinegar.

Baking Powder

Baking powder is baking powder is made of a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar.  This means it can easily be replaced in some baked goods.

You can use 1 ½  teaspoons of baking powder to replace 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.


Buttermilk is acidic so it can work as a replacement for cream of tartar in baked goods.

For every 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar in the recipe, remove 1/2 cup (120 ml) of liquid and replace it with 1/2 cup (120 ml) of buttermilk.


Yogurt can also be a good substitute for cream of tartar in baked goods.  This may also have the benefit of making your baked goods extra moist.

For every 1/4 teaspoon 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.

Don’t Replace it

In recipes that call for cream of tartar for whipping egg whites or to prevent syrup, frosting, or icing from crystalizing you can leave it out.

While it’s better to have a substitution like lemon juice to stabilize the egg whites it shouldn’t harm them.

Also, if your syrup, frosting, or icing crystallize you can smooth them out by reheating them on the stove or in the microwave.

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