Does it ever seem like every good/fun recipe these days needs cream of tartar?

What does it even do? Is there a good substitute? What do you do if you have a ton of it for a recipe that only needed 1 tsp? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, this page is your answer!

What is cream of tartar?

Cream of tartar is a powdery acidic crystal that forms on the side of barrels when you make wine or in grape jelly/jam. Sometimes it even shows up on wine corks. One of its biggest uses is being combined with baking soda to make high quality, aluminum-free baking powder.

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between baking soda and baking powder is, one of them is the addition of cream of tartar (or other acidic substance) – the combination of acid and base makes the CO2 bubbles that leavens your baked goods – kind of like when you mix vinegar and baking soda to make a science fair volcano.

Souffle Pancake |

What else does it do?

In a home kitchen, cream of tartar’s main job is to keep your egg whites at whatever level you whipped them to: soft peaks stay soft, hard peaks stay hard. This can be very important when making Japanese Pancakes or Cloud Bread or Angel Food Cake. It also adds a nice bit of tang to snickerdoodles – many people say it is the key ingredient that makes a snickerdoodle a snickerdoodle, without which a snickerdoodle would be a cinnamon-sugar cookie.

snickerdoodle recipe |

Cream of tartar substitutes

A great substitute for cream of tartar is fresh lemon juice or vinegar. You can subsitute 1:1 for vinegar or 2:1 lemon juice – as in twice as much lemon juice as the cream of tartar called for in your recipe.

Should you just buy it though?

Yes! We routinely run out of cream of tartar and we don’t even bake that much. It’s always worth it to have a little on hand, if only because the cravings for snickerdoodles come regularly and often.

Where to get it

  • You can find it in the baking aisle at your favorite grocery store, near the baking powder and baking soda. Some stores carry it with the spices.
  • Cream of tartar is usually under $5 on amazon.
  • We buy it from bulk stores. Bring your own container!

Recipes that use it

Japanese Pancakes |

Cloud Bread Recipe |

More secret ingredients

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