The Magic of Cream of Tartar: What It Is and How to Substitute

May 26, 2015 | By | Comments (23)

Whether added to snickerdoodle cookies to make them wonderfully soft, to whipped egg whites to make them stable, or to simple syrup to prevent sugar crystals from forming, cream of tartar is an all-around good thing to have on hand.

But just exactly what is cream of tartar that makes it so magical? Technically, it’s an acid— specifically, tartaric acid. It’s a byproduct of wine production, the residue left on the barrels, actually. Most commonly, cream of tartar is used as a leavener, because when it’s combined with baking soda, together they produce carbon dioxide gas. That’s the same gas that’s produced by yeast in bread baking. When it’s added to egg whites, it boosts the strength of the individual air bubbles and slows down their natural tendency to deflate. And when added to simple syrup, it prevents sugar’s natural tendency to re-bond and form crystals.

But if you don’t have it in your pantry and your recipe calls for it, just substitute fresh lemon juice or white vinegar for the cream of tartar. For every 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in the recipe, use 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar. As an example, if your cookie recipe calls for 1 teaspoon baking soda, add 2 teaspoons lemon juice instead of the cream of tartar. If your simple syrup recipe asks for 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar, use 3-4 drops of lemon juice. And for the whipping egg whites? Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice per egg white.

The results will be so close, you probably won’t notice the substitution.


  1. purwa

    its so easy to make anything
    thnku so much………i love it vey much

    September 27, 2016 at 3:35 am
  2. purwa

    if i have no vinegar
    so what we use another ingredients in it?

    September 27, 2016 at 3:33 am
  3. kim

    Hoi Geke Florijn,

    cream of Tartar is Wijnsteenzuur in het Nederlands en kan vervangen worden door citroenzuur.

    September 16, 2016 at 4:01 am
  4. Geke


    My recipe calls for and lemon juice and cream of tartar. I cann’t buy the CT here (NL). Is extra lemon juice an option?

    Or can I do without extra Lemon Juice?

    Geke Florijn

    August 5, 2016 at 4:12 am
  5. Linda

    I used fresh lemon juice to replace cream of tartar. It worked beautifully. Thank you so much for sharing this advice.

    July 19, 2016 at 9:05 am
  6. Cream of Tartar- What it is and How To Substitute – Cooking Up a Storm With Miss Polly
    June 11, 2016 at 1:52 am
  7. quirkywritingcorner

    Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner.

    June 7, 2016 at 1:41 pm
  8. Light And Fluffy Yogurt Soufflé – Love Simple Cooking

    […] But there is an ingredient you may not have in your pantry. The recipe calls for cream of tartar. If you don’t have it on hand, you can still make this recipe. Just add use 3-4 drops of lemon juice to substitute the cream of tartar. To learn more visit […]

    May 1, 2016 at 11:53 am
  9. Cream of Tartar Substitution | Cooking with Alison

    […] See here if you are looking to substitute cream of tartar in whipped egg whites or simple syrup. I have […]

    May 1, 2016 at 4:15 am
  10. Cookiecruncher

    Worked great with my lemon meringues! Your Awesome😉

    April 27, 2016 at 1:37 am
  11. Abigail Bennett

    I’m making peppermint chocolate chip meringues, will the lemon juice mess wit the taste?

    April 15, 2016 at 4:08 pm
  12. Oopsie Bread

    […] I think Deb Wise from Cooking Light explains what Cream of Tartar is beautifully in her post titled The Magic of Cream of Tartar and How to Substitute it. […]

    April 3, 2016 at 4:53 am
  13. Charity Believe

    So helpful. Thank you.

    March 13, 2016 at 10:35 am
  14. Sukanshi

    vry helpful… Thank u

    February 6, 2016 at 7:33 am
  15. Kathleen

    Jetzt muss ich in den nächsten Tagen nur noch ein paar
    Girls aus meiner Region anschreiben, dann ich auch mit Hilfe von Online Seitensprung schon bald kostenlos
    Ficken in Deutschland!

    January 9, 2016 at 10:23 pm
  16. jenni jones

    I am making fudge candy …what can I use instead of cream of tarter

    January 7, 2016 at 10:50 am
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    A Powerful Ancient Chinese Skin Whitening Recipe – Remove the Age Spots From Your Hands and Face!

    December 12, 2015 at 6:05 pm
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  19. abdur rauf khatri

    Hii my no.7240801265

    November 24, 2015 at 1:02 am
  20. Ashish

    If I want to make cotton candy where cream of tartar is mixed in sugar to prevent re-crystallization but baking soda is not mentioned as ingredients, what should I use as substitute?

    September 10, 2015 at 9:45 am
  21. Sandy Taylor

    I am making a lemon suffle and my cream of tartar has evaporated in the jar what can I use instead? Will the white vinegar be enough? Thank you

    August 26, 2015 at 4:25 pm
  22. Dee Wright

    I am making a mixed citrus concentrated syrup juice which calls for citric acid and tartaric acid. I do not have citric acid. Can I use cream of tartar instead?

    August 20, 2015 at 5:10 am
  23. Dee Wright

    I can’t believe how simple this is. I just love it

    August 20, 2015 at 5:07 am

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