Are you in a panic because you’re cooking, but just realized with horror that you have no cream of tartar and you’re whipping up those egg whites? I have some good news for you. Check our our top five cream of tartar substitutes. Help is more certainly here!
Alternatives to Cream of Tartar
- White vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Baking powder
- Consider leaving it out?
Cream of tartar is a common ingredient for a wide selection of dishes. Also called potassium bitartrate, cream of tartar is the powdered version of tartaric acid. This is an organic acid that’s found in numerous plants. It is also created during the winemaking process.
Cream of tartar can stabilize whipped egg whites, or prevent sugar from crystallizing. It can also act as a leavening agent for baked goods.
But there are times when people are halfway done with their recipe and find that they don’t have any more cream of tartar available. Thankfully, there’s a good bunch of cream of tartar substitutes available, some of which include the following. We’ll give you lots more details about each of these replacements, but here’s a sneak peak at what they are:
#1: White Vinegar
The first cream of tartar substitute that we’re going to talk about is plain white vinegar.
Just like cream tartar, white vinegar is acidic. It can be a great cream of tartar replacement when you find yourself shorthanded.
It’s a commendable substitute for when you’re trying to stabilize egg whites for recipes like meringues and souffles. All you have to do is use an equal amount of white vinegar in place of cream of tartar, especially when you’re whipping egg whites.
The only thing white vinegar may not be a good alternative for is baked goods, such as cakes. This is because it might alter the taste and texture of the recipes. This is due to the strong flavor of white vinegar that changes the taste of the cake.
If you’re going to use white vinegar as a substitute, just put the same amount as you would for cream of tartar. But if the recipe comes with specific instructions for white vinegar, then it is pivotal to follow them.
How much should you use? Try 1 teaspoon of vinegar for every 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar that the recipe calls for. Next up…a very similar substance: lemon juice.
#2 Replacement for Cream of Tartar: Lemon Juice
Cream of tartar often helps stabilize egg whites and provide the characteristic high peaks in recipes like meringue. If you’ve run dry on cream is tartar, then lemon juice is the next best thing.
Lemon juice has the same levels of acidity as the cream of tartar. This helps form stiff peaks when you’re whipping egg whites. In case you’re making frostings or syrups, lemon juice is a great substitute as it prevents crystallization.
In order to get the best results, use an equal amount of lemon juice as a substitute for cream of tartar in your recipe.
Now that you know about the additional use of lemon in the house, you have another reason to store some more for your kitchen. However, storing them properly can be quite challenging.
The best way to keep your lemons fresh is to put them in a ziplock bag and then store it in your refrigerator. This keeps the moisture out and can help them last longer. This is great if you’re buying them in bulk.
If you want to know the ratios of this popular substitution, here’s what you can do:
Use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice for every 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
Vinegar or lemon are most people’s go-to substitutes.
Buttermilk is the liquid that gets left behind right after churning butter from cream. Due to its acidity, buttermilk is an ideal cream of tartar replacement in some recipes.
This substitute works especially well with baked goods. However, some of the liquid needs to be removed from the recipe to account for the buttermilk. For each quarter teaspoon (1 gram) of cream of tartar in the recipe, remove half a cup (120 ml) of liquid from the recipe. Then replace it with half a cup (120 ml) of buttermilk.
Cream of Tartar Alternatives
#4 What Can Place Cream of Tartar? Try Baking Powder
Next up on our list of cream of tartar substitutes is baking powder if it’s going to be used in baking.
If your recipe consists of both cream of tartar and baking soda, then it can easily be substituted with baking powder instead. The reason why that’s so is that baking soda is made of tartaric acid and sodium bicarbonate, also known as cream of tartar and baking soda, respectively.
Use about 1.5 teaspoons (6 grams) of baking powder to replace 1 teaspoon (3.5 grams) of cream of tartar. It’s an ideal substitute as it can be used in any recipe without altering the taste or the texture of the final product.
What do you think about using baking powder instead of hydrogen tartrate? Have you had some good results with it? Leave a comment below and let us know!
However, baking soda doesn’t really work the same way and so should not be used in place of baking powder for the purpose.
Last but not least on our list of cream of tartar substitutes is yogurt.
Yogurt is acidic, just like buttermilk and can be used to replace cream of tartar in some recipes. Before using yogurt as a substitute, thin it out with a bit of milk to match the consistency of buttermilk, and then use it to replace cream of tartar in the same manner.
Try yogurt for a substitute cream of tartar and you’ll likely be happy with the results.
Ideal for Baked Goods
But it’s better to keep this substitution mainly for baked goods, as it requires you to remove liquids from the recipe. For every quarter teaspoon (1 gram) of cream of tartar, remove half a cup (120 ml) of liquid from the recipe and replace it with half a cup (120 ml) of yogurt that needs to be thinned out with milk.
How to Store Yogurt
First off, avoid eating straight out of the pot or container where all of your yogurts is stored to prevent cross-contamination. Rather, scoop just the account you need or want to eat using a clean spoon and then put it in a smaller bowl.
Second, put your yogurt in a clean and airtight container. Any food with bad odor can contaminate the yogurt as well, especially if you put them in the same fridge. And that’s why it’s crucial to seal them.
And finally, freezing the yogurt can help it last longer, which is about 1 month if kept inside the fridge and protected from any kind of contamination. However, you should note that freezing the yogurt can change its texture, which won’t be that good if you’re planning to eat it later. However, when it comes to baked goods, this is ideal.
A Nice Cream of Tartar Substitute
But the best part is that if you ever run out of cream of tartar to finish your recipe, then yogurt is the perfect alternative for the job.
This is done by adding small amounts of milk to the yogurt so that it has a thin consistency just as buttermilk does. That’s how you can use this as a cream of tartar substitute, but remember to reduce the number of liquid ingredients since this is in liquid form.
#6: Consider Leaving it Out
Another possibility is to just leave cream of tartar out of your recipe. It definitely depends on the recipe and purpose of this ingredient though. For example, if you’re using it to stabilize egg whites that are whipped, just leave it out. They won’t be as stiff, but in most cases, it doesn’t matter too much. You can also beat egg whites for a bit longer to get the same results as you would have by using cream of tartar.
Same with frostings, syrups or icing. Don’t worry about leaving it out—the only negative thing is that the sugar in syrups may crystallize. But, you can quickly fix this by heating it up on the stove or in the microwave.
However, if you’re using cream of tartar in baked goods it’s probably being used as a sort of leavening agent. In this case, be sure to use a substitute, or ask your neighbour to borrow some! In this case, baking powder, another leavening agent would make the obvious alternative to cream or tartar.
Learn more about Cream of Tartar
Do you want to find out more about what exactly this substance is, along with some alternatives to consider if you don’t have any? Yes? Then you’ll definitely want to check out this short video below for all the details you need to know:
Cream of Tartar FAQ’s
Here are some of the most common questions about this kitchen staple.
What is Cream of Tartar?
Cream of Tartar is the more common name for Tartaric acid which is a byproduct of making wine. It’s basically the residue that’s left on the barrels after aging. It’s most commonly used as a leavening agent and can be found in any major grocery store in the baking section.
Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad?
Most people find that a single small jar of this stuff can last them a decade or more! It’s just not that common of an ingredient. Does it go bad though and should you replace it every few years?
In reality, as long as it doesn’t get exposed to moisture, it should last indefinitely. So, be sure to store it in an airtight container and pull it out every year or two! This is not the case for all baking ingredients though—things like baking powder and yeast do certainly have an expiry date so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
What does Cream of Tartar Look Like?
Cream of tartar is not creamy but it’s actually a dry, white powdery substance that’s an acidic byproduct of making wine. It looks similar to many other baking and cooking ingredients such as cornstarch or baking powder. The scientific name is potassium bitartrate and it’s found in the spice aisle.
What is Cream of Tartar Used For?
The best known use of cream of tartar is to stabilize egg whites while whipping them. A pinch of potassium bitartrate adds strength to the bubble matrix and prevents them from collapsing too quickly. You can also use cream of tartar in baking, to make play dough or gingerbread house icing, when boiling vegetables, or as a household polish.
Can Cream of Tartar be Used for Cleaning?
Cream of tartar is an excellent, non-abrasive and non-toxic household cleaner. To use, mix equal parts vinegar and cream of tartar to clean almost any surface around your home. To clean stubborn pots and plans with baked on food, use a few drop of hydrogen peroxide mixed with cream of tartar.
Is Cream of Tartar the Same as Baking Soda?
Cream of tartar is not the same as baking soda and they cannot be used interchangeably in baking and cooking. Cream of tartar, also known as tartaric acid is a byproduct of wine making. Baking soda is sodium carbonate which is an alkaline substance. When combined with an acid, it produces carbon dioxide gas.
What Happens When you Mix Baking Soda and Cream of Tartar?
When cream of tartar and baking soda combine, a chemical reaction occurs and gas forms, producing air bubbles which in turn makes baked good less dense. This happens instantly which is why foods that use this reaction should be cooked quickly after mixing and why not over mixing is important in some recipes.
What Does Cream of Tartar do in Cookies?
If you’re cookie recipe calls for cream or tartar, it’s to help them rise. The acidic cream of tartar reacts with liquids in cookie dough and produces air bubbles that are carbon-dioxide gas. This breaks apart the gluten in flour and helps the cookies to rise and not be so dense.
Is Cream of Tartar Dangerous?
Cream of tartar contains large amounts of potassium, but there are no documented cases where it has caused death. There are a couple of reports that purposely ingesting very large amounts of it has resulted in life-threatening hyperkalemia. However, in small amounts like you’d use in recipes, it’s certainly safe for everyone and not dangerous.
Is Cream of Tartar Good for Your Health?
If you have low potassium, then cream of tartar which is packed with it could be considered good for your health. You can also get potassium from a multitude of other food sources including many fruits and vegetables. Otherwise, it’s a neutral food that contains no other nutrients or minerals and there is no reason to supplement your diet with it.
How to Make Play Dough Without Cream of Tartar?
Here’s an easy recipe for play dough that you can make without cream of tartar in less than 5 minutes:
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/4 cup of salt
- 3/4 cup of water
- 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- Food colouring
- Any seasonings or scents you would like
Heat oil and water and lemon juice on the stove. Add other liquid ingredients like colouring or scents. In a deep mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. When the liquid ingredients are hot (not boiling) add them slowly to the dry ingredients, mixing well with a wooden spoon.
Keep stirring until the mixture begins to dry out and form a ball. Place it on a piece of paper to let it cool. Knead for a minute or two so that it all comes together. Then you’ll have play dough!
Where to Buy Cream of Tartar?
It’s easy to find cream of tartar at most supermarkets and grocery store. Take a look in the baking aisle and you should find it near the baking soda and baking powder. Additionally, you might find it in the spice section near the cinnamon.
Are you Looking for Baking Powder, Butter or Cornstarch Alternatives?
Do you want to find some substitutions for common baking and cooking ingredients and not just a cream of tartar subsitute? Then you’re definitely in the right place. You can check out some of the options available here:
Have your Say about these Cream of Tartar Substitutes
Did we miss any from this list of cream of tartar substitutes? Is vinegar or lemon your go-to, or do you prefer baking powder if used in baking? Please leave a comment below and let us know. Or, if you tried one of these alternatives—let us know how it went. We’d love to hear from you.
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