I want to know if I can use a cream of tartar in a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I want a crisp cookie. Can I use it with both baking powder & soda? In a peanut butter cookie recipe, it asked for cream of tartar and said that it makes the cookie have a "cracked" appearance on top?

So far, in my search for a crisper chocolate chip cookie, I've found, 1. more white sugar than brown, 2. bake longer than recipe calls for 3. freeze the cookie dough.

Any other suggestions?


1 Answer 1


Cream of tartar is an acid. The main purpose in a recipe I believe is to work with baking soda to make carbon dioxide to make the dough rise. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and various acidic reagents (including cream of tartar) so that some of the reactions are delayed (heat activated) and the gas is not released all at once. If you put baking powder in water, you will see it fizz up somewhat, but once that has died down and if you heat it you should see more fizzing up. The ratio of baking soda to cream of tartar can be calculated fairly easily, and the same can be done if you include baking powder additionally.

The crunch comes from caramelization of sugars which begins at a little above 350F/180C (not to be confused with Maillard browning which begins at a much lower temperature). Now, I have not done any research on this to date and I can only share with you my educated guess. I think if anything, cream of tartar may actually inhibit the crunch as carameliaztion is promoted by alkaline conditions and baking soda is mildly alkaline.

One thing perhaps worth experimenting is to brush the dough with a baking soda solution just before baking. You will need to watch them because you also run the risk of the cookies going brown too quickly before the inside is cooked or they get too dark/burnt. You can also use a solution of sugar and baking soda instead of just baking soda for this "glaze". As for concentrations, you will need to play with that.

  • I think you might get the cracked appearance by using double acting baking powder. The second act is a delayed heat activated reaction making carbon dioxide gas which will cause the middle to expand. Assuming the surface is already cooked when this happens, the expanding middle will crack the surface. Cream of tartar with baking soda is an immediate reaction. As soon as the two come into contact in the presence of water, they will make gas bubbles.
    – user110084
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 14:03
  • Double acting baking powder is the default in the US... I use it in nearly every recipe I make, both for cookies and cakes... Most of these products do not have cracked tops.
    – Catija
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 16:59
  • Referring to OP's question, tartaric acid alone will not do much if anything it would slow down or prevent caramelisation which is the opposite of what is desirable. What I was saying is that if I wanted to figure it out, these would be the things I try /experiment with. I would favour baking powder over soda-tartar combination because powder has the delayed reactions.
    – user110084
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:07

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