baking ingredients on brown table

Preparing to make a batch of cookies or bake a cake? When the recipe calls for cream of tartar, and you have none on hand, make a simple substitution with ingredients you likely have in the pantry.

What is Cream of Tartar?

Cream of tartar is potassium hydrogen tartrate, an acidic salt found naturally in grapes. In wine making, its sediment form is found along the inner walls of wine barrels as a crystallized crust. In baking, cream of tartar serves as a leavening agent in baking powders. When making candy or frosting, cream of tartar promotes a creamier texture. It also adds volume to egg whites.


When a cake or cookie recipe calls for cream of tartar and baking soda and you have no cream of tartar on hand, simply use baking powder instead. One tsp. of baking powder equals 1/4 tsp. of baking soda and 5/8 tsp. of cream of tartar. When beating egg whites, substitute white vinegar for the cream of tartar. Each egg white requires 1/8 tsp. of white vinegar.


While these substitutions will not generally alter the outcome of the dish, a slight change in texture and taste may result. In baking, however, baking powder is generally substituted for the baking soda/cream of tartar combination.