Which ingredient to substitute for cream of tartar depends on its role in the recipe, whether a leavening agent, stabilizer, or to make food more acidic.
A popular ingredient in many recipes, cream of tartar can:
- help stabilize whipped egg whites
- prevent sugar from crystallizing
- act as a leavening agent for baked goods
You can also mix it with an acidic solution like lemon juice or vinegar to use it as a cleaning solution.
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. Which replacement you choose will depend on why you’re using cream of tartar.
Keep reading to learn which cream of tartar substitutes to use in certain situations and how to implement them into your recipes.
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 acidity similar to 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.
In recipes that use cream of tartar to stabilize egg whites or prevent crystallization, you can use an equal amount of lemon juice instead.
If you find yourself in a pinch in the kitchen, you can swap white vinegar for cream of tartar. This substitute works best when 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.
As white vinegar is acidic, you can use it to help stabilize egg whites. You can substitute cream of tartar with an equal amount of white vinegar.
If your recipe contains both baking soda and cream of tartar, you can easily substitute with baking powder instead.
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.
You can use baking powder 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 you’ll need to remove some liquid 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.
Buttermilk can make a suitable replacement for cream of tartar in recipes, especially 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.
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.
As yogurt is acidic, you can use it as a replacement for cream of tartar in baked goods. First, thin out the yogurt with milk. Next, 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.
If using cream of tartar to stabilize whisked egg whites, older research suggests you may be able to skip the cream of tartar altogether if you have a copper bowl.
Further research is needed to fully understand why and how much copper can help stabilize egg whites. But experts believe that copper ions from the bowl react with conalbumin, the protein in the egg whites.
This reaction forms a conalbumin-copper complex which is more stable than just conalbumin on its own. The complex helps stabilize the foam and makes it less likely to overheat.
But copper bowls can be expensive and often require special maintenance. They may not be a suitable or accessible replacement for everyone.
Using a copper bowl can help stabilize egg whites without using cream of tartar. But these can be costly and require extra care.
Can I use corn syrup to replace cream of tartar?
Like cream of tartar, corn syrup can help prevent sugar from crystallizing. This makes it a common cream of tartar substitute in sweet treats.
But corn syrup is very high in sugar and calories, which may not make it a healthy substitute for cream of tartar.
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, you can 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.
In some recipes, you can leave out cream of tartar 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 found in a variety of recipes.
However, if you’re in a pinch, plenty of substitutes are 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.
Just one thing
While people commonly use cream of tartar as a food additive, you can also use it as a cleansing agent. Try mixing one part cream of tartar with four parts white vinegar to create a cleansing paste for polishing stainless steel appliances or cleaning ceramics.