Is Cream of Tartar Vegan?

Cream of tartar, chemical name, potassium bitartrate, is an element that has many useful properties meant for a range of applications like food production, cosmetics, medicine, and general use in households.

Is cream of tartar vegan? Yes, the cream of tartar is 100% vegan-friendly. It’s chemically named potassium bitartrate (KC4H5O6), which is derived from tartaric acid. Tartaric acid is a crystalline organic acid that id found in various fruits naturally. It is plant-based and hence vegan.

We will check here the reasons why the cream of tartar is considered vegan.


Why Cream of Tartar Is Vegan?

It boils down to one thing that the substance is 100% plant-based.

Potassium bitartrate, also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, is derived from tartaric acid, which is an organic acid found naturally in grapes, bananas, citrus, and tamarinds, etc.

The only problem that we could have is that it is usually produced as a by-product of winemaking.

Potassium bitartrate forms crystals when the grape juice is fermented, though it can also precipitate from chilled fresh grape juice or kept for an extended period.

During fermentation, the crystals are formed in wine casks and usually precipitates to the side of bottles after the production of wine.

Over some time, the crystals (wine diamonds)also develop under the corks of full bottles at temperatures below 50 °F (10 °C).

The wine is mostly produced using products derived from animals. With the help of fining agents, Winemakers filter the liquid to remove yeast, protein, unwantedcolors& flavors, and cloudiness.

However, all this does not make cream of tartar non-vegan.

Firstly, not all types of wine are produced with animal products.

Some fining agents can be animal-derived- casein, albumen, bone marrow, chitin, gelatin, etc. But, many vegan-friendly fining agents are used commonly. – bentonite clay, carbon, limestone, silica gel, kaolin clay, and vegetable plaques.

Cream of tartar appears to be widely taken as a vegan-friendly ingredient for household use.

E.g. In a short guide for dealing with insects or pests, PETA recommends pouring cream of tartar to deter ants.


Vegan and Non-Vegan Cream of Tartar Applications

Just because something is itself vegan, doesn’t mean that every use of the ingredient is vegan-friendly.

Vegan-Friendly Applications


For many of us, leavening is perhaps the use of cream of tartar that comes to mind, as it’s the most crucial component of baking powders.

Two critical white powdered ingredients are used for leavening by way of CO2 production i.e., Chemical leavening.

One is the usual baking soda or sodium bicarbonate, and the other one is baking powder, which is a mixture of baking soda, corn-starch, and an acid.

Baking soda reacts with the acid to generate carbon dioxide, a gas that expands to rise dough and batter. When an acidic substance like molasses is already present in the recipe, then we need only the baking soda.

If the recipe doesn’t call for an acidic ingredient, baking powder does the trick as it has an acid to react with the sodium bicarbonate.

Cream of tartar is one such type of acid, but monocalcium phosphate is also used frequently. It appears to be more frequent these days.

Nowadays, it looks like that most easily available baking powders like Clabber Girl contain monocalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, and corn-starch.

Thickening and Anticaking

Cream of tartar may be used to thicken mixtures and prevent caking.

Anti-caking properties help foods in powder form to remain free-flowing and without absorbing moisture.

Other instances of anti-caking ingredients include salt, confection sugar, iron ammonium citrate, and silicon dioxide.

Cream of tartar is used as a thickening agent by making liquids, soups, and stews increase their density without changing the taste or other properties.

Preventing Crystallization

Cream of tartar avoids crystal formation in sugar syrups. It happens by making sucrose to break down into fructose and glucose.

Color Preservation (Vegetables)

True, blanching veggies briefly can make their color brighter and more vibrant, but boiling veggies for a long time may result in the opposite.

Due to this, acids like cream of tartar are commonly used to prevent discoloration.

Non-Vegan Applications

Cream of tartar stabilizes egg whites, by maintaining their volume and tolerance to warmth.

It also stabilizes whipped cream by maintaining its volume and moisture.

There are many other applications, but those mentioned above should give you a rough idea.

That was the fact file of the vegan status of the cream of tartar. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following related articles:


  1. John Brodie, John Godber “Bakery Processes, Chemical Leavening Agents” in Kirk-OthmerEncyclopedia of Chemical Technology 2001, John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Duarte, A.M.; Caixeirinho, D.; Miguel, M.G.; Sustelo, V.; Nunes, C.; Fernandes, M.M.; Marreiros, A. (2012). “ORGANIC ACIDS CONCENTRATION IN CITRUS JUICE FROM CONVENTIONAL VERSUS ORGANIC FARMING.” Acta Horticulturae (933): 601–606.
  3. Potassium Bitartrate.
  4. What About Insects and Other “pests”?
  5. (2 Pack) Clabber Girl Double Acting Baking Powder, 22 Oz –
  6. Stephens, Emily (18 February 2017). “The Incredible Cream of Tartar – How to Use and What to Substitute With.”
  7. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 57). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1
  8. Provost, Joseph J., et al. (2016). The science of cooking: understanding the biology and chemistry behind food and cooking (p. 504). John Wiley and Sons, Inc. ISBN 9781118674208.
  9. Cream Of Tartar Can Do More Than Boost Egg Whites. –
  10. The science of good cooking: master 50 simple concepts to enjoy a lifetime of success in the kitchen (1st ed.). America’s Test Kitchen. 2012. p. 199. ISBN 978-1-933615-98-1.
  11. How To Use Cream Of Tartar. Person- wikiHow –


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