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Sep 11, 2003 04:12 PM

cream of tartar substitute

  • c


I've a cookie recipe which calls for cream of tartar. I don't have any. And was wondering if there is something else I can substitute for it? Also, my recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, so how much of the substitution do I need to add?



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  1. Hi Charlie,

    Does the recipe also call for baking soda? I've copied below a link to instructions for substituting baking powder for baking soda - cream of tartar combinations.

    FWIW, I have noticed a difference in the quality of snickerdoodles made with cream of tartar v. baking powder.(Cream of tartar snickerdoodles were much, much better).



    3 Replies
    1. re: Andy P.


      Where can I find cream of tartar? I live in NYC. Never even heard of this before to be honest!!! And I don't want to sacrifice on quality either.


      1. re: charlie

        Charley: It should be on display in the Spices and Seasoning section at almost any NY supermarket. Cream of Tarter is a staple, used for many things.

        1. re: charlie

          You should be able to find it in any grocery store. It's a common baking ingredient. Should be located with the jarred spices.

      2. Did your cookie recipe have whipped egg whites as an ingredient? I have never used c of t in any way except as a stabilizer for egg whites...helps them keep air you have whipped in them. I am aware of no substitute, but you can indeed find it in any supermarket.

        I'm hoping someone with more knowledge of the science behind use of cream of tarter will chime in for all of us.

        1. My (limited) understanding of cream of tartar is that it is a crystalline form of tartaric acid. It can function in two capacities-- first as a stabilizing agent for egg whites since egg whites are slightly alkaline to start with. By lowering the pH of the egg whites, it stabilizes the albumin (the predominant protein in egg whites) and allows the whipped eggs to remain fluffy and inhibits the collapse caused by over-whipping.
          Cream of tartar can also be used as an acid source with baking soda to provide leavening. It's like pouring vinegar onto baking soda and you get that great fizzing action. Except by using a solid acid source instead of a liquid source, you can incorporate them into a batter or dough and trap the carbon dioxide in the mixture.

          Hope that helps!

          1. Cream of Tartar is one of the ingredients in Baking Powder. I used to make up my own from a mixture of baking soda, cream of tartar, and cornstarch (back when you couldn't get baking powder without aluminum salts as preservatives).

            Baking soda is bicarbonate of soda and needs an acid to activate it--it is an alkaline substance. Cream of tartar is, as someone else pointed out, tartaric acid in solid form. It is acidic, and needs an alkali to help it react. It is the reaction between the two that creates the reaction of baking powder.

            I have never tried a substitute--I think there are few available. If you go back through old cookbooks, many horrible substances were used to make baked goods rise--one being potassium bicarbonate, which is quite bitter, so only small amounts were used (the reason I think so much sugar was used in old cakes).

            One possibility is citric acid crystals, which can be bought in many drugstores, but I'm throwing that out as a suggestion. I think it's easier and cheaper to just go to the grocery store and buy cream of tartar.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Colleen

              Here is a very nice website, the details of which should be accessible to anyone who passed general chemistry, and even if you haven't, you probably will get something out of it.

              There's a list of substitutions at the bottom, but not directly addressing the cream of tartar substitution.


            2. you can use 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice