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The Best Cream of Tartar Replacements

Ingredient Swaps
Cream of tartar powder being spilled from a metal spoon with the jar in the background

Cream of tartar is used in lots of baking recipes as a rising agent. If you’ve run out mid-bake and don’t have time to run to the shop, there are lots of replacements which may be hiding in your cupboard or fridge. Which replacement you use will depend on what you need the cream of tartar to do for your recipe.

What is cream of tartar?

Cream of tartar is an active ingredient which looks like a fine, white powder, with the chemical name potassium bitartrate. It won’t massively impact the flavour of your bakes, however, it’s known for its raising and stabilising properties.

What is cream of tartar used for?

Cream of tartar can be used in a baking recipe as a leavening agent, to stabilise ingredients, or to prevent sugar from crystallising.

It’s often used to make meringues, cakes and frosting, as it stabilises egg whites by keeping them fluffy and standing. It also prevents sugar crystallisation and activates baking powder.

Cream of tartar substitutes for stabilising egg whites


Replacement ratio: Replace 10g of cream of tartar with 40ml of vinegar

Due to the acidic properties of vinegar, it comes in handy when used to stabilise egg whites. However, due to its high acidity, it may alter the flavour slightly. White vinegar is the least-likely option to affect the final taste of your bake.

You’ll need roughly four times more vinegar than you would use cream of tartar.

Lemon juice

Replacement ratio: Replace 10g of cream of tartar with 40ml of lemon juice

Lemon juice is also acidic, making it a great replacement for cream of tartar when used to stabilise egg whites.

One upside to using lemon juice over vinegar is that a slightly citrusy flavour creeping into your recipe can work well, especially if you’re making a lemon-flavoured bake. You should again use four times more lemon juice as you would cream of tartar.

Using a copper bowl

Whisking egg whites in a copper bowl is also thought to stabilise them. The copper ions react with the protein in the egg whites, which helps to stabilise the foam, maintain the pockets of air you’re creating, and prevent the egg whites from overheating. However, copper bowls can be expensive and may not be accessible for everyone.

Cream of tartar substitutes which act as a raising agent

Baking powder

Replacement ratio: Replace 10g of cream of tartar with 15g of baking powder

Baking powder is made from cream of tartar and baking soda. The cream of tartar activates the baking soda, helping your bake’s ingredients to rise in the oven. Naturally, this makes baking powder a great alternative when used for leaving.

If your recipe needs baking soda and cream of tartar, then you can add baking powder instead. However, you should also consider the ratio required. Usually, shop-bought baking powder contains two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda.

Vinegar or lemon juice

Replacement ratio: Replace 10g of cream of tartar with 20ml of vinegar or lemon juice

Baking powder works well when replacing cream of tartar for leavening, as it is replacing one dry ingredient for another, so it shouldn’t alter the texture of your bake. However, you can still use a liquid to get the same effect, like vinegar or lemon juice.

If using vinegar or lemon to replace cream of tartar to leaven a recipe, you’ll need to use twice as much as you would cream of tartar. This is enough to activate the baking soda to lift your bake.


Replacement ratio: Replace 1g of cream of tartar with 120ml of buttermilk, and remove 120ml of liquid

You can use buttermilk instead of cream of tartar to help your recipe rise. This is due to buttermilk’s acidity, however, you should also remove some other liquid in your recipe to keep the texture the same.

For every gram you need of cream of tartar, you should remove 120ml of liquid and add 120ml of buttermilk.


Replacement ratio: Replace 1g of cream of tartar with 120ml of yoghurt mixed with milk, and remove 120ml of liquid

Yoghurt can work just as well as buttermilk for replacing cream of tartar to help ingredients rise. However, you should first add some milk or water to the yoghurt to make the texture similar to buttermilk.

You’ll also need to remove some liquid from the recipe, to keep the texture of the final bake the same. For every gram of cream of tartar needed, you should remove 120ml of liquid from the recipe and replace this with the yoghurt and milk mixture.

Can I leave cream of tartar out of a recipe?

If you don’t have any of these ingredients handy, you can also go without cream of tartar - for example, you can still whip egg whites well enough without it. 

However, if you’re using cream of tartar as a leavening agent, then we’d recommend trying a substitute. Otherwise, your bake will likely be too dense and heavy, and won’t rise as it should.