8 Best Substitutes For Cream Of Tartar

There are some staple ingredients for baking and similar projects which can seem like they are optional or not that important, but when you exclude them, you will start to realize just how necessary they are.

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One such core component of a lot of baking is cream of tartar. In spite of its name, this is actually a powder, and it is used in lots of different baking projects for lots of different reasons and because of this it is in more recipes than you initially would expect.

Because it is a powder, it is not that hard to keep in as it does not need to be kept in the fridge, and it does not go bad quickly. However, it is sometimes quite hard to find in the first place.

8 Best Substitutes For Cream Of Tartar

It might be in some bigger supermarkets which have good baking sections, and it will be in specialist baking shops, but if you do not have access to these you will not be able to find any!

But if you are set on making a recipe which definitely needs cream of tartar, but you can not seem to find any anywhere, this guide is made for you! 

We have put together 8 of the best substitutes for cream of tartar, so you have plenty of options of what to use if you do not have access to it!

However, not all of these substitutes will work in every situation cream of tartar is needed for.

Because of this you will need to make sure that the description of the substitution matches what you would need the cream of tartar before.

If you do not do this you could end up wasting both your time, as well as the ingredients used.

So, if you need access to a cream of tartar substitute as quick as possible, keep reading!

What Is Cream Of Tartar?

If you are confused about this product being a powder not a cream, do not worry!

This is the form cream of tartar is most commonly used in and if a recipe is asking for cream of tartar, this is what they are expecting you to use!

This product is an acidic powder which is actually a byproduct from the process of fermenting grapes when they are being turned into wine.

If you want to look up more of the scientific properties of this ingredient, it is referred to as potassium bitartrate as well, but you can also find it being called potassium hydrogen tartrate, or even just tartaric acid, and this is why it is called tartar, due to this tartaric in the name.

This product can be found in either the baking section, or the spice section of your supermarket depending on how they organize.

You can get lucky and find it in smaller supermarkets, however, there is just as much chance that you will be unlucky and be unable to find it.

What Is Cream Of Tartar Used For?

There are quite a few different reasons why cream of tartar is used, but most commonly it is used as an acidic stabilizers to help with specific parts of baking.

Perhaps the most common use of cream of tartar, and what you will often end up needing to substitute it in, is as a stabilizer when you are beating egg whites.

When you put cream of tartar in your egg whites it will help speed up when the foam is being formed, and it will help keep the small air bubbles intact.

Sometimes whipping up egg whites can take an excessive amount of time and sometimes the egg whites will not be as stiff as you need them to be, so this is when you will commonly see cream of tartar being used!

Cream of tartar is also half of baking powder. When you combine baking soda with cream of tartar, you get baking powder which is very commonly used in baking projects, so if you are ever out of baking powder, but you have baking soda and cream of tartar, you can make your own substitute! 

For the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of baking powder all you need to do is combine a quarter teaspoon of baking soda, with a half teaspoon of cream of tartar.

Mix well, and then you can use this mix just like baking powder.

Cream of tartar has many varied uses, and you will be surprised at just how many places you will find it is necessary.

For example, you can use it with boiling vegetables if you want to make sure they retain a bright and vibrant color.

You can also add it to whipped cream as it will make is a lot more stable than it would be without similar to egg whites. It is also sometimes used in sugar work for a variety of reasons as well!

While these substitutes do work well for their specific uses, sometimes it is worth seeking out just buying the product since it is not too expensive, and it does not go bad!

If it is not in any local retailers near you, it is always worth looking at online retailers too!

The Best Substitutes For Cream Of Tartar

1. White Vinegar

What Is This Substitute?

White vinegar is probably one of the more easily accessible substitutes for cream of tartar since it is commonly used in a lot of cooking.

The best part about this substitute is that it has a very similar level of acidity than cream of tartar.

When Is It Best To Use This Substitute?

Because of its acidity, this is a great substitute for when you are whipping meringues, and it will be perfect for adding stability to this!

How Is This Substitute Different From Cream Of Tartar?

This substitute has a much stronger and more distinct flavor than cream of tartar, so in baked goods like cake, or something with a more subtle flavor, this is not the best substitute!

2. Lemon Juice

What Is This Substitute?

This is another substitute which is perfect because of how widely available it is and how likely it is that you have it already.

Similarly to vinegar, it has a similar acidity level to cream of tartar, and with a more pleasant flavor, it is sometimes a much better substitute for cakes.

It is also good at stopping sugar crystallization which is another common purpose for cream of tartar.

When Is It Best To Use This Substitute?

This is best in most of the same situations where cream of tartar is used, just ensure that it is fine to add a liquid instead of a powder.

How Is This Substitute Different From Cream Of Tartar?

This is a good all-rounder substitute for cream of tartar, it is good at most of the same things cream of tartar, just ensure you are measuring it properly, and that it is also a liquid not a powder.

Can You Use Lime Juice Instead Of Lemon Juice?

Yes! You can use lime juice as a cream of tartar substitute as well, it has a similar acidity and the only main difference is a slightly different flavor profile, but it will usually not be tasted if it is used as a cream of tartar substitute anyway.

3. Baking Powder

What Is This Substitute?

Baking powder is a good cream of tartar substitute, since most of its contents is cream of tartar anyway.

Just take into account that around ⅔ of baking powder (see also ‘13 Best Baking Powder Substitutes You Need To Try!‘) is cream of tartar, so adjust your measurements accordingly.

When Is It Best To Use This Substitute?

This is a good substitute, since it is a powder and relatively tasteless it will work well in almost all the same ways cream of tartar does, you will just need to use all of it.

How Is This Substitute Different From Cream Of Tartar?

The only difference baking powder has from cream of tartar is that it is ⅓ baking soda, so make sure nothing you are using it for will react with this content.

4. Buttermilk

What Is This Substitute?

If you use buttermilk in baking, it is likely you already have some, it has a similar acidity level to cream of tartar, and since it is already used in baking, sometimes you may just have to add a little extra.

It also does not have a strong taste, and its acidity is perfect for stabilizing eggs.

When Is It Best To Use This Substitute?

This is great in most situations with its similar acidity levels.

How Is This Substitute Different From Cream Of Tartar?

If the consistency of the dish matters, this may alter this being quite different from a powder.

5. Yogurt

What Is This Substitute?

This is another commonly owned substitute so if you have some yogurt lying around it should be fine.

If you are using it in baked goods you may have to thin it out first, but for stabilizing egg whites (see also ‘How To Substitute Eggs In Cornbread With These 5 Amazing Foods‘), it should be fine as is.

When Is It Best To Use This Substitute?

If you do not own any of the other substitutes this is a good idea, especially since the acidity level is similar!

How Is This Substitute Different From Cream Of Tartar?

If the consistency of your dish matters, the yogurt is likely to affect it, and you may have to experiment with proportions to get predictable results.

6. Corn Syrup

What Is This Substitute?

If you are using the cream of tartar to prevent crystallization when you are working with sugar, corn syrup also works well for this and is commonly used for the same role!

It is also sometimes more common than cream of tartar in supermarkets.

How Is This Substitute Different From Cream Of Tartar?

This will not work for helping stabilize egg whites, so do not attempt to use corn syrup for this process.

7. Homemade Buttermilk

What Is This Substitute?

You can make your own buttermilk in a variety of different ways, most of which require adding an acid to milk like vinegar or lemon juice.

If you have made some this is a good option, but you can just use the vinegar and lemon juice by themselves to save time.

How Is This Substitute Different From Cream Of Tartar?

Do not bother using this unless you have already made it, otherwise you can just use the acid you would add as the substitute.

8. Butter

What Is This Substitute?

This is only appropriate for preventing sugar crystallization, but butter is a great way to stop this from happening and can often make your sugar work more delicious.

How Is This Substitute Different From Cream Of Tartar?

This is not an appropriate substitute for most uses of cream of tartar except stabilizing sugar (see also ‘10 Best Sugar Substitutes For Baking‘).

Can You Just Exclude Cream Of Tartar?

While cream of tartar is a massively helpful ingredient in a lot of different situations, there are also many situations where it can be missed out and just replaced with extra effort and skill.

For example, when whipping egg whites, it is possible to get them just as stiff as they would be with cream of tartar without using it, but it will take significantly longer, and you will need a better technique.

The same is when you are using cream of tartar to stabilize a syrup which has begun to crystallize, there are other methods of stopping this other than using cream of tartar, for example, sometimes just blasting in the microwave can work well.

If you have access to cream of tartar or a fitting and well-suited substitute, you should use them, but if getting either of these is going to be a significant hassle, and you can not get the ingredients easily, it is sometimes a viable option to just not use anything and put in the extra work!

The only times when you should definitely use it is when the recipe stresses that it can not be excluded as if it is not used the recipe will not work.

For example if you are making baking powder, you can not skip the cream of tartar as baking soda will not work properly as baking powder without it!


Hopefully this list has put into perspective the options you have when you are substituting cream of tartar.

Just make sure to keep in mind that not all of these substitutes work in every situation, and if anything some could be worse than not adding anything if it is used in the wrong place. 

Also keep in mind the option of just excluding cream of tartar instead.

While cream of tartar can be a massive help in a lot of situations, it is also optional in a lot of recipes, and with a little extra effort sometimes it is not needed at all!

Whichever option you choose, keep an eye out for buying cream of tartar when you find it because if this article has taught you anything, it is how versatile and useful this ingredient can be!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cream Of Tartar The Same Thing As Baking Soda?

Baking soda and cream of tartar are unfortunately not the same thing, but because they are often used in similar situations, they are often confused with each other.

If you use these ingredients interchangeably you will likely end up with poor results as they do completely different things.

Cream of tartar is a stabilizer and baking sods is used to react with different ingredients as a raising agent.

What you can do however is use them together to make a perfect substitute for baking powder.

For 1 teaspoon of baking powder you just need to combine ½ a teaspoon of cream of tartar with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and mix them well!

By doing this you can save having to buy baking powder and instead making your own!

What Is Cream Of Tartar Made From?

Cream of tartar is actually a byproduct of the wine making process.

When the grapes are being fermented they will create the byproduct of tartaric acid which is what cream of tartar essentially is, and this can then be made into a powder and turned into the product you use!

Is Cream Of Tartar Vegan?

The process of making cream of tartar does not use any animal products or byproducts, so it is vegan friendly!

So if you are a vegan who is into baking, you will not have to worry about cream of tartar.

It is worth noting that if you are using cream of tartar to whip aquafaba in the same way egg whites are whipped, it will also be helpful so make sure to keep this in mind!

Is Cream Of Tartar Healthy?

Cream of tartar is used in incredibly small portions usually, so because of this, it will never really impact your health unless you are allergic to it.

Cream of tartar is an incredibly rare allergen so very few people will be affected by it, and hopefully if they are, they are aware of this.

But since cream of tartar is eaten in such small portions with less than a teaspoon usually used in a whole batch, you will likely not have any issues with it.

Why Is It Called Cream Of Tartar?

The reason why cream of tartar is called a cream is because, as previously mentioned, the tartaric acid is a byproduct of the grapes getting fermented in wine making.

The tartaric acid often appears in a foam which is sometimes referred to as a cream while the wine is fermenting.

This is what is scraped off and then turned into cream of tartar which is why it is named this!

What Is Cream Of Tartar Used For In Baking?

Cream of tartar is most commonly used as a stabilizer in baking to help whipped products like egg whites or creams reach stiffer peaks quicker.

It is also used in a variety of other ways but the most common place you will find it is in meringue recipes, or any recipes which require whipping egg whites.

While this is its most common use, it is in other places, for example, as a component of baking powder.

Can You Make Your Own Cream Of Tartar?

Unless you are a professional winemaker who also has the facilities to convert the cream byproduct into a powdered form, making your own cream of tartar is incredibly inefficient to do yourself.

Buying cream of tartar is often not that expensive, and if you can not find it in stores, using a substitute or making a special order is much more efficient and cost-effective than making your cream of tartar from scratch.

8 Best Substitutes For Cream Of Tartar

8 Best Substitutes For Cream Of Tartar

Recipe by Jenna

Are you making something which uses cream of tartar, but you can not find this ingredient anywhere? This list has 8 of the best replacements you can use!

Course: Substitutes
5 from 1 vote


  • White Vinegar

  • Lemon Juice

  • Baking Powder

  • Buttermilk

  • Yogurt

  • Corn Syrup

  • Homemade Buttermilk

  • Butter


  • Decided on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy

Recipe Video

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