Substitutes for Cream of Tartar in Meringues, Cookies, Frostings, and More

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If you don’t have cream of tartar on hand when you need to make a lemon meringue or a batch of snickerdoodles, don’t worry; there are alternative solutions!

Cream of tartar is the potassium acid salt of tartaric acid. It is also known as potassium bitrate or potassium acid tartrate. Potassium acid tartrate is naturally present in grapes and is often used as a leavening or rising agent and stabilizer in baking. Since it has a limited solubility in cold water, it develops as red-brown flakes on the inside of wine caskets throughout wine production procedures.

When hot water is given to this sediment, called argol, it dissolves the potassium acid tartrate, which is then filtered, refined, and cooled. During this process, it becomes white, and after it cools, the potassium acid tartrate, or cream of tartar crystals, remain, which are then crushed into an odorless powder and packed.

In the 1840s, a British scientist blended potassium acid tartrate with baking soda to create an early type of baking powder!

Cream of Tartar is Generally Recognized As Safe by the FDA when used as a food item, and it is commonly available in the spice aisle at the grocery store since spice businesses are the major processors of cream of tartar.

Cream of tartar will remain effective forever if stored in a cold, dark area that is maintained dry. If it has begun to cake, just use a mixer or stick blender to break it up again.

When used in cooking, cream of tartar serves four functions.

  • The acid component in baking powder is cream of tartar. When the cream of tartar and sodium carbonate in the powder are activated when combined with liquid in the dough, an acid and base reaction occurs, resulting in the emission of carbon dioxide bubbles. These bubbles are responsible for the rising of the cake or other baked items. Cream of tartar also has a softer flavor than other leavening agents, which means that it is unnecessary to use yeast as a leavening agent in baked products such as cookies, which would otherwise leave a yeasty taste in the cookies.
  • Cream of tartar may also be used to distinguish between firm and weepy meringue. As egg whites are combined, the protein strands begin to unravel and create a network that retains air and water in place. Since egg whites include sulfur, the sulfur makes linkages that reinforce this network. The use of cream of tartar prevents the formation of sulfur bonds, allowing the air and water to remain in place and produce a solid meringue. Cream of tartar also prevents the proteins in egg whites from breaking down (denaturing) at room temperature, resulting in firm and defined meringue peaks. Unless you are beating egg whites in a copper bowl, one eighth of a teaspoon (or a fair sprinkle) of cream of tartar for two egg whites OR half a teaspoon per 8 oz cup of egg whites should be used. Little copper shards are discharged from the surface of the bowl when you whisk in a copper bowl. These copper pieces link to the sulfur in the egg whites and, like cream of tartar, inhibit the production of sulfur bonds. This implies that egg whites beaten in a copper bowl will naturally remain firm and glossy without the use of cream of tartar.
  • Cream of tartar makes icings and frostings shiny and prevents them from becoming gritty by breaking down sugar molecules into simpler glucose and fructose molecules. Similarly, when used in syrups, cream of tartar prevents crystallization. It may also help to make higher sugar dishes taste creamier.
  • Cream of tartar may also be added to boiling vegetables like potatoes or red cabbage to prevent discolouration. It keeps the water acidic rather than alkaline, preventing color pigments from seeping out of the veggies.

Substituting Cream of Tartar

The sort of substitution utilized will be determined by the recipe. The most common alternatives include acids like lemon juice and white vinegar, as well as dairy acids like white yogurt and buttermilk.

Baking powder is always the finest option for cream of tartar as a leavening (raising) ingredient in recipes. These substitutions are described in further detail below, and we’ve organized them by recipe type for easy reference.

1. For Egg Whites/Meringues

One teaspoon of cream of tartar may be replaced for two teaspoons of lemon juice or one teaspoon of white vinegar in a recipe that calls for egg whites.

Because the flavor of any substitute can be altered, lemon juice is always the best acid to substitute cream of tartar in meringues with a fruit base, while white vinegar can be substituted in recipes that only require whipped egg whites, though vinegar can alter the flavor more than lemon juice because it is stronger tasting.

For egg whites, this equates to around a quarter to one-half teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice per egg white. Whenever you start using bigger amounts of liquid acids, the liquids in the recipe will need to be adjusted to account for the additional liquid, thus it is always best to keep any liquids added to a minimum.

Cream of tartar may also be left out of egg whites or meringues, but you must compensate by ensuring that your whites are extra thoroughly beaten before baking in the oven.

2. For Baked Goods

While cream of tartar may be deleted from a recipe with minimal effect in certain situations, cream of tartar or a replacement cannot be left out of baked products because cookies would remain flat and rubbery without this or a substitute leavening agent.

There is substantial debate over how much baking powder to use for cream of tartar and baking soda. If you’re using an older recipe that calls for cream of tartar as well as baking soda, consider substituting a teaspoon of baking powder for two-thirds of a teaspoon of cream of tartar and one and a half teaspoons of baking soda.

Some claim that one teaspoon of baking powder may replace 5/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.

If you use baking powder, be sure it is still within its expiration date; otherwise, it may not function effectively. A spoonful of baking powder in boiling water is an easy way to test it. It is safe to use if it begins to froth and bubble.

The substitution of baking powder has no effect on the recipe.

One teaspoon of cream of tartar may be replaced for two teaspoons of lemon juice or one teaspoon of white vinegar in other baked products that do not use cream of tartar as a leavening agent.

Depending on what you’re baking, there’s a chance that using white vinegar may result in a cake with a rougher texture, coarser grained, and more prone to shrinking. There is also a greater danger of vinegar affecting the flavor than if lemon juice is used.

Buttermilk is the byproduct of churning butter from cream. Since buttermilk is acidic, it may be used in place of cream of tartar.

White yogurt is another acidic dairy product that may be used in baking to replace cream of tartar. When using yogurt, smooth it down with milk until it approaches the consistency of buttermilk.

You may need to make some liquid modifications to the recipe whether you use buttermilk or white yogurt. A half cup of liquid must be eliminated from the recipe and replaced with half a cup of strained yogurt or buttermilk for every quarter teaspoon of cream of tartar used.

3. For Icings and Frostings

Cream of tartar is used in several royal icing recipes to assist give the icing bulk. It also aids in the preservation of the icing’s whiteness.

If the recipe calls for cream of tartar, you may substitute lemon juice (or white vinegar in a pinch) in the same amount as the cream of tartar.

You may be possible to skip the cream of tartar depending on the recipe, but the icing will normally need additional beating to get the desired consistency.

4. For Whipped Cream

While creating whipped cream, skip the cream of tartar. To get the optimum consistency, whip the cream well before using.

5. For Syrups

While producing syrup, crystallization is frequent. This is because enough sugar crystals have bonded together to make them insoluble in water. If you’ve ever made syrup, you’ll know that once a few sugar crystals start to attach to the edge of the pan, the whole syrup will quickly crystalize, particularly if it’s a rich syrup with a two-cup-to-one-cup-of-water (2:1) ratio. This is due to the fact that crystallization is a chain process.

Cream of tartar is used to break down the sugar molecules into glucose and fructose. This phenomenon, also known as inversion, meaning that the presence of simple sugars (glucose and fructose) in the mix results in fewer sugar molecules. It is also much more difficult for them to bind together now that the glucose and fructose molecules are physically interfering.

Depending on the syrup, it may be feasible to eliminate the cream of tartar or acid alternative and instead let the syrup to simmer for up to ten minutes, rather of merely bringing it to a boil and then lowering the heat.

Instead, lemon juice or white vinegar may be used for cream of tartar. In a 2:1 syrup, which often calls for a quarter teaspoon of cream of tartar, you may use a quarter teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

If a recipe only calls for an eighth of a teaspoon of cream of tartar, that’s three to four drops of lemon juice.

If your syrup begins to crystallize over time, boil it up and mix well. This should dissolve the crystals back into the syrup.

6. Boiling Vegetables

When boiling red cabbage or other vegetables, add a tablespoon of lemon juice, white vinegar, or even wine for every cup of liquid in the pan to avoid color leaching.

Final Words 

The cream of tartar alternative you choose will always depend on what you are creating or baking.

Baking powder is the best alternative for cream of tartar as a leavening ingredient (typically in conjunction with baking soda).

In some recipes, however, acidic substitutes such as lemon juice, white vinegar, white yogurt, or even buttermilk can serve if an alternative is required, since in certain circumstances, a lack of substitution may be the ideal substitute!


What happens if I don’t have cream of tartar for meringue?

4 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar per egg white is almost as effective. Don’t miss the cream of tartar to prevent weeping meringues… Don’t leave out the cream of tartar for smooth, hard beaten egg whites that hold their form. If you don’t have cream of tartar, use 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

What can I use instead of cream of tartar in sugar cookies?

Instead of 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar. For instance, if your cookie recipe asks for 1 teaspoon baking soda, use 2 teaspoons lemon juice for the cream of tartar. For every one

How do you stabilize meringue without cream of tartar?

distilled white vinegar

When you’re in a pinch in the kitchen, it may be substituted for cream of tartar (6). For stabilizing egg whites for dishes like soufflés and meringues, this replacement works well. While beating egg whites, replace cream of tartar with an equal quantity of white vinegar.

Is cream of tartar or cornstarch better for meringue?

To keep egg whites from getting dry and hard, there are two options: add an acid or a sweet component to the mix. It should be noted that adding salt does not assist to keep egg whites beaten into peaks. Cream of tartar, a white powder byproduct of winemaking, is the most potent acid component.

What happens if you don t put cream of tartar in sugar cookies?

You’ll get the same baked good without cream of tartar, but the consistency may not be as perfect. If you’re concerned about your cake being too flat or your lemon meringue pie being runny, adding cream of tartar may help.

Can you omit cream of tartar in cookies?

You may also omit the cream of tartar (Sometimes)

Cream of tartar is often used to avoid crystallization, but don’t worry if you have to leave it out; everything should still be alright.

What is a substitute for cream of tartar in snickerdoodles?

You may substitute cream of tartar with baking powder in a 1:1.5 ratio (1 teaspoon cream of tartar: 1 12 teaspoon baking powder), or you can replace cream of tartar with a mixture of baking soda and either lemon juice or vinegar (as with this recipe).

What ingredients make meringue more stable?

To assist stabilize the foam and make it less prone to collapse, a tiny quantity of cream of tartar or vinegar may be added to the mixture at the start of whipping. Plastic dishes should be avoided because they may retain a film of fat from previously combined or stored substances, which will collapse the meringue.

Does vinegar stabilize meringue?

As a meringue mixture is made, an acid, such as vinegar, may be added to help generate a more stable froth. In technical words, the acid aids in the denaturement, or breakdown, of the coils of amino acids in egg white proteins, causing them to become long strands instead.

Do you have to use cream of tartar for meringue?

For each egg white in your recipe, use 2 teaspoon juice. Q: Is it possible to produce meringue without using cream of tartar? Sure, but the acid in the cream of tartar makes for a sturdier, less prone to weeping meringue. If you prefer lemon juice over cream of tartar as an acidic component, add roughly 1 teaspoon.

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