cream of tartar

Top 6 Cream of Tartar Substitutes When You Run Out Last Minute

If you like baking, then you surely know how vital cream of tartar can be in some recipes. Not adding it can have devastating results in some cases.

However, some items can replace the cream of tartar without problems if you don’t have any handy. 

Before you decide to bake your product without using the cream of tartar, let’s discuss the effects that it has on your baked goods, and why you need to substitute correctly

What Is Cream of Tartar?

Also known as potassium bitartrate, this is a powder form of tartaric acid. This organic acid is formed naturally in many foods.

Cream of tartar helps stabilize egg whites, prevents the crystallization of sugar, and is a leavening agent in baking. 

If you are using the cream of tartar in baked goods, the best bet is that this acid helps the product stabilize and rise. So, you need to consider options that provide the same or very similar properties.

What Can I Replace Cream of Tartar With?

Let’s discuss the best cream of tartar alternatives below:

For Making Meringue

#1. Lemon Juice

This juice is highly acidic, which helps form peaks with egg whites in desserts like meringue. Lemon juice is also used to prevent crystallization in syrups or frosting.

You can buy lemons in any grocery, convenience, or organic store, which is why it is a highly accessible and easy option to use. 

To replace cream of tartar for lemon juice, use an equal amount, but keep in mind that you need to translate it into liquid. You may also want to adjust the liquids in your recipe.

#2. Vinegar

Another acidic food item, vinegar does have a distinct pungent flavor, so try to keep this in mind when using it. This vinegar has many uses in the kitchen, including stabilizing egg whites in recipes like souffles or meringues. 

If you are making whipping cream, you can add the vinegar slowly. However, don’t use any vinegar in products like cakes or cookies, as the flavor is too harsh. You can substitute the cream of tartar for the same amount of any vinegar.

#3. Buttermilk

Some people use buttermilk for various recipes, including pancakes, waffles, and biscuits. Buttermilk is the liquid left behind after the butter is churned from the cream.

Despite not sounding like it, buttermilk is very acidic, so it has similar properties to the cream of tartar and can be bought in most grocery stores. 

This choice works exceptionally well in baked goods that need to rise, like bread or cakes, but can be used in anything. 

Consider, though, that you need to reduce the amount of liquid used in the process. To use it as a substitute, replace 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1 teaspoon of buttermilk but adjust the other liquids in the recipe.

See more: Buttermilk substitutes

For Baking Purposes

#4. Baking Powder

This option may be obvious, but some people don’t know why it works in place of cream of tartar.

Baking powder in itself is a mixture of baking soda and tartaric acid, so it has the same properties as the cream of tartar in many baked goods, especially small cakes, muffins, and cupcakes. 

You do need to use about half more of the amount required in the recipe. For example, for one teaspoon of cream of tartar, use one and a half teaspoons of baking powder. This option works well because the baking powder has a neutral flavor.

See more: Best Baking Powder Substitutes

#5. Yogurt with Milk

Just like buttermilk, yogurt is very acidic and can be used to replace cream of tartar in some cases. However, yogurt is much thicker, so it is a good idea to add a bit of milk so that the consistency is more similar to buttermilk.

You can buy yogurt in any grocery store, but we suggest you pick the plain flavor, so it doesn’t alter the final product. 

As to what products to use it for, you can use it in banana bread, muffins, pancakes, and biscuits. To use it as a substitute, for every teaspoon of cream of tartar, mix half a teaspoon of yogurt with half a teaspoon of milk, and reduce other liquids. 

#6. Don’t Use Any

While this option doesn’t work all the time, there are some instances in which you can leave the cream of tartar out of the equation.

It is used in baking as a mix of leavening and allowing the eggs to stabilize, but you can skip it easily if there are other items like baking soda or baking powder included. 

If your cream of tartar is being used as a leavening agent in baked goods, consider using another substitute that works for leavening, such as baking soda, yeast, or baking powder.

The decision depends on what the purpose is, but sometimes you can get away with just ignoring the cream of tartar altogether.


Is cream of tartar the same as baking powder?

No, cream of tartar and baking powder are not the same. However, baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and tartaric acid, so it contains cream of tartar. If you don’t have baking powder and the recipe requires it, consider adding cream of tartar and baking soda instead.

What does cream of tartar do for a recipe?

In most recipes, cream of tartar is added to stabilize egg whites, like in meringue. It is also an excellent way to prevent crystals from forming in syrups, and it is used as a leavening agent in some cases.

Does the cream of tartar have a taste?

The cream of tartar flavor is almost unnoticeable, as it is relatively neutral. You may notice a slightly metallic taste, which is more noticeable in baked goods that are thinner or smaller, such as cookies.


Using cream of tartar isn’t always necessary. Still, if your recipe calls for it, it most likely is because it acts as a stabilizer, leavening agent, or prevents sugar crystals from forming. You can use any of these six choices, as long as you taste and adjust your recipe. Time to get baking!

Up Next: Does cream of tartar go bad?

cream of tartar substitute

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