Uses for Cream of Tartar and an Easy Substitute {For When You Run Out}

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a recipe only to find that you don’t have a Cream of Tartar? It happens more often than you’d think. Don’t worry, I have a couple of easy replacements you can use as a Substitute for Cream of Tartar.

uses for cream of tartar in a recipe

Cream of Tartar Substitute

I found myself in that exact situation. I was knee-deep into baking cookies for Santa with the kids when I realized that I did not have Cream of Tartar. Now, what would you do in that situation? There is no way that you would stop and tell the kids, “Well, it looks like Santa won’t get any cookies this year.” No…you press on! Thank goodness for the internet and substitutions. 


substitute for cream of tartar in a recipe

I will tell you that the ratios on the internet are all over the place, and a bit confusing. I’ll first tell you what I did. Then, I’ll point you in the right direction for more ratios, so you can check those, as well.

uses for cream of tartar in a recipe

Baking Cookies and other types of Bread and a Cream of Tartar Substitute…

I wondered what Cream of Tartar was needed for in a baking recipe like cookies and discovered that it was acid. So, why do we need acid in baking? It reacts with other ingredients like baking soda and causes stuff to rise. Have you ever made volcanoes with the kids from baking soda and vinegar? The vinegar reacts with the baking soda and causes a volcanic eruption. 

So, what if we don’t have Cream of Tartar and we need our cookies to rise? 

The answer in short – Use a baking powder instead. 

I ultimately used baking powder in place of Cream of Tartar. I found that if you replace Cream of Tartar with baking powder, you need to also take out the baking soda in the recipe. You need to use Baking Powder alone in the place of Cream of Tartar & Baking Soda. You see…Baking Powder already has Baking Soda in it and it also has Cream of Tartar. That’s what the acidic ingredient is in Baking Powder – it helps make the bread or cookie rise. 

Substituting baking powder for cream of tartar


My original cookie recipe needed 1 tsp. Of Baking Soda and 1 tsp. of Cream of Tartar. I took those out of the recipe altogether and used 1 tsp of baking powder in their place. Let me tell you they were the best sugar cookies that Santa had ever received from us, and my recipe has changed forever – for the better. 

My baking plans involved cookies and cream of tartar. If your baking plans involve whipping egg whites into a meringue (thus the need for Cream of Tartar), check out my substitute for that specific circumstance. 

Cream of Tartar Substitute

Use 1 tsp.Of baking powder per 1 tsp. Of cream of tartar

Expert Tip

Baking powder is baking soda and cream of tartar already mixed together, so there you have it. Just use baking powder

If your recipe calls for baking soda, then you can probably omit it. It’s already in the baking powder.

If your recipe calls for 1/2 cream of tarter and 1/4 baking soda – add them together and use 3/4 baking powder


What about a Meringue Recipe or something that involves whipping eggs with Cream of Tartar?

  • When Cream of Tartar is added to whipped egg whites, it acts as a bonding agent. It keeps them from deflating like a balloon and leaving your recipe flat. 
  • In this circumstance, you’ll want to – use 1 tsp. of acid in the form of Lemon Juice or White Vinegar per 1/2 tsp. of Cream of Tartar 
  • *So, if your recipe calls for…
  • 1 tsp. of Cream of Tartar, then that is = to 2 tsp. of Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. of Cream of tartar = 1 tsp. of Lemon Juice or White Vinegar

Find out more about Cream of Tartar Science and Substitutues – explains the chemistry and gives very precise amounts

What’s Cooking America – Another ratio for you

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    This Post Has One Comment

    1. M. Walker

      Thank you for this, it was very informative. I love the way you explained the difference in the baking powder and vinegar-lemon juice in recipes. I googled it and it said to use vinegar or lemon juice and I didn’t want that in my cookies.