Technically, cream of tartar is tartaric acid in powder form.
Commercially available tartar acid, potassium bitartrate, is a residual product of winemaking.
Tartaric acid is naturally found in many fruits, most notably grapes, but also in tamarinds, citrus, and bananas.
If you run out of cream of tartar halfway through a recipe, don’t worry. Some of the replacements for it may already be in your pantry.
This article tries to bring home the best substitutes for the cream of tartar.
What is the use of cream of tartar in baking?
Are you wondering what cream of tartar does?
It has a couple of excellent uses in cooking. The acidic properties of this cream are useful in baking for three specific reasons:
- Stabilizes whipped egg whites
- Prevents sugar from crystallizing.
- Acts as a leavening agent for baked goods.
This baker’s cream helps cooked candy and desserts with egg whites like meringue maintain their high peaks, even after a trip through the oven.
The cream of tartar and baking soda are combined to ferment the dough. It helps baked goods like pancakes and cookies become fluffier and softer.
Adding a little cream of tartar to icings, syrups, and frostings can result in a creamier texture and keep the sugar from crystallizing.
The best cream of tartar substitutes
When you don’t have any cream of tartar in the pantry, don’t panic. It is really simple to find a substitute for cream of tartar.
Here are 5 alternatives that you can confidently use:
1. Lemon juice
Imagine that cream of tartar isn’t readily available to you, then substitute it with lemon juice.
Lemon juice has a high level of acidity, just like the cream of tartar. It helps stabilize egg whites.
Adding lemon juice to your homemade syrups or frostings helps prevent crystallization, just as tartar does.
For every 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar in the recipe, use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.
2. Baking powder
Some of the recipes contain both cream of tartar and baking soda. In such a scenario, you can comfortably substitute them with baking powder.
Both tartaric acid and sodium bicarbonate are present in baking powder.
While substituting, use about 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder to replace 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
When a baking recipe calls for baking soda and cream of tartar in the dry ingredients, you can use baking powder instead because baking soda and cream of tartar are mixed (one part baking soda to 2 parts cream of tartar) to make baking powder.
3. White vinegar
White vinegar is highly acidic like cream of tartar. So if you don’t have cream of tartar, simply use regular vinegar instead.
Next time, try using white vinegar to stabilize egg white foam; it works great for recipes like meringues and soufflés.
When whipping egg whites, use an equal amount of white vinegar instead of cream of tartar.
Warning: Using regular vinegar in baked goods like cakes and muffins may alter flavor and texture.
I’m sure that you have yogurt in your refrigerator. If so, the substitution becomes an easy affair.
The acidic content in it is an effective ingredient to replace the cream of tartar in some recipes.
Ideally, it would help if you made the yogurt thin by adding enough milk and then using it in place of the cream.
This substitution works best for baked goods. Using yogurt in your baked goods will make them incredibly moist. Therefore, reduce the use of other liquids in the recipe.
For every ¼ teaspoon of tartar cream, use about ½ cup of yogurt made thinner with milk. Please note, reduce ½ cup of other liquids from your recipe when using it.
Just like yogurt, buttermilk also has acidity. Undoubtedly, buttermilk is a nice substitution for the cream of tartar in recipes that require a good bit of liquid.
Unlike yogurt, there is no need to thin it out with milk. When using buttermilk instead of cream of tartar, reduce the use of other liquids in accordance.
For ¼ teaspoon amount of cream of tartar, use about ½ cup of buttermilk. Note how much buttermilk is used; reduce that much of the other liquids in your recipe.
Why not leave out cream tartar from your recipe?
Before you look for a substitute for tartar cream, check if it is possible to leave out this ingredient from your recipe. This cream may not be strictly needed in your recipe at all.
Sometimes, it isn’t necessary to use tartar cream to stabilize the whipped egg.
Similarly, it’s strictly not necessary to use the cream for tartar in making frosting, icing, or syrup to prevent crystallization. Normally, sugar crystallization does not occur unless you keep the baked goods in the freezer for a long time.
Crystallization in syrup can be neutralized by reheating it in a microwave or stovetop.
However, if you are using tartar cream as a leavening agent in your recipe, then it’s necessary to use it or a substitute for it.
Cream of tartar is used in many recipes as a leavening agent or to prevent sugar crystallization.
Nonetheless, if you have run out of this cream, finding suitable substitutes is easy. I would recommend lemon juice or white vinegar as the best substitution for tartar cream.
In some recipes, it’s even possible to leave out tartar cream altogether.
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