Easy snickerdoodle recipe without cream of tartar and baking powder! This post answers why do snickerdoodles need cream of tartar, and shares my favorite snickerdoodle recipe with no cream of tartar! I know you’ll love this chewy snickerdoodle recipe! And if you love these snickerdoodles without cream of tartar and you're looking for more no-fail cookie recipes, look no further than my Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies, my Ginger Crinkle Cookies, my Cookie Monster Cookies, and my Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter and Sea Salt!
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Do you have to use cream of tartar in cookies?
Snickerdoodles are tasty cookies that are amazing any time of year! They're simple, yet so beloved for their soft, chewy texture, and that amazing cinnamon sugar flavor is the best part! But typically, the key to a chewy snickerdoodle recipe is one ingredient: cream of tartar. And if you're viewing this recipe for snickerdoodles without cream of tartar there's a good chance you're like me, and you never have it on hand when you need it! If that's you, this easy snickerdoodle recipe without cream of tartar is just what you need!
What is a snickerdoodle?
Snickerdoodles are a classic cookie famous for their soft, chewy texture and cinnamon-sugar topping. They are said to have German origin, with their name coming from a corruption of the German word Schneckennudel. They're primarily appreciated in the United States, where they're especially loved during autumn and the holiday season. And they're just SO good!
Why do snickerdoodles need cream of tartar?
Despite what its name would suggest, cream of tartar is NOT creamy and has nothing to do with tartar sauce. It's actually a powdery substance that is a byproduct of the process of fermenting wine. It's often used in whipping up egg whites to help stabilize the air bubbles, creating a meringue with a smoother, stiffer consistency. And it's also famously used in snickerdoodles! You'd have a hard time finding a classic snickerdoodle recipe without cream of tartar!
Why is cream of tartar used in snickerdoodles?
The question is: why do snickerdoodles have cream of tartar? Well, cream of tartar is in many ways what makes a snickerdoodle a snickerdoodle. It works in two ways: it adds acid with reacts with baking soda to provide lift and texture, and it adds a tangy flavor that snickerdoodles are distinct for. Cream of tartar also contributes to a chewier cookie, since it prevents sugar from crystallizing and creating a crunch. But have no fear -- you can definitely make snickerdoodles without cream of tartar!
What can I use instead of cream of tartar in snickerdoodles?
If you don't have cream of tartar on hand, no worries! In this recipe we're replacing the tanginess that we would otherwise get from cream of tartar with some fresh lemon juice. We're also adding a bit of cream cheese for tanginess and texture. The result is chewy, easy snickerdoodles without cream of tartar! Here are your basic ingredients:
What can I replace cream of tartar with?
- butter - be sure to use room temperature butter. See below for a tip for how to soften your butter to room temperature quickly! I like to use salted butter to add flavor to this chewy snickerdoodles recipe, but if you prefer to use unsalted butter, just add an extra ¼ teaspoon of salt in with your dry ingredients.
- cream cheese - I recommend using full-fat cream cheese for this recipe. Like the butter, your cream cheese should also be softened to room temperature.
- granulated sugar and light brown sugar - this balance of sweetness gives these snickerdoodles the best flavor and texture!
- eggs - your eggs should be room temperature to help your snickerdoodles bake evenly.
- vanilla - be sure to use a high-quality pure vanilla extract. Or better yet, check out my post on how to make vanilla extract at home with just 2 ingredients!
- lemon juice - to replace the tangy flavor imparted by cream of tartar, we're adding a bit of lemon juice. It won't make your snickerdoodles lemony, don't worry!
- all-purpose flour - be sure to use a kitchen scale to measure your flour by weight, or use the spoon-and-level method to measure by volume.
- baking soda - we're actually making these snickerdoodles without cream of tartar AND baking powder! Instead, we'll use bakong soda as the source of our lift that the cookies need!
- ground cinnamon and granulated sugar - for that classic snickerdoodle topping!
This is the best snickerdoodle recipe! I love that it's so simple to make -- you'll just need standard cookie making tools like an electric mixer, a small cookie scoop, and a baking sheet. I also use a silicone baking liner or parchment paper and a kitchen scale. Here are all of my favorite tools for this chewy snickerdoodle recipe:
You can find detailed instructions for this chewy cookie recipe in the recipe card below, but here are the basic steps for the best snickerdoodle cookies:
Cream together butter, cream cheese, and sugars in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer).
Beat in eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice until smooth.
Add baking soda and flour to form a dough.
Roll cookie dough balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture, then bake on a cookie sheet until golden brown.
Tips and F.A.Q.
No you can't -- in most recipes, cornstarch won't have the same effect in either flavor or texture.
These snickerdoodles taste similar to classic snickerdoodles, thanks to the lemon we're adding! They also are a bit thicker and softer, thanks to the cream cheese.
To soften your butter, place the stick of butter on a microwave-safe plate and heat on high for 4 seconds. Turn so another side of the stick of butter is facing up and heat for another 4 seconds. Repeat for a total of 16 seconds.
To soften your cream cheese for these key lime cookies, just remove it from the foil and place on a microwave-safe plate. Heat in the microwave for 10 seconds or until softened. It should be ready to add to this easy snickerdoodle cookie recipe!
This recipe yields soft, thick snickerdoodles. They won't get too flat, but I personally love a nice thick cookie! One way to make sure they flatten at least some is to measure your flour by weight so that you don't accidentally overmeasure it. Too much flour keeps cookies from spreading.
If you would like them to flatten out a bit more, you can use a spatula to press the dough balls down a bit before you put them in the oven.
To ensure a flatter cookie, you can press an indent into the center of each dough ball to allow them to flatten out more while they bake.
They're easily stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two days! If you're storing them for longer, you can freeze them in a heavy duty freezer bag for up to two months.
This easy snickerdoodle recipe stays pretty soft, thanks to the cream cheese. But if your snickerdoodle are hard, you may have over-mixed the dough, added too much sugar, or over-baked your cookies.
More Cookie Recipes You'll Love!
- Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies Recipe
- Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter and Sea Salt
- Oatmeal Cranberry Pecan Cookies
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
- Ginger Crinkle Cookies
Equipment you may need
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
- In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter, and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs, and vanilla, and lemon juice and mix well.
- Stir in flour and baking soda to form a dough.
- In a small bowl, stir together cinnamon and sugar for topping.
- Use a small cookie scoop to scoop out cookie dough balls roll in cinnamon sugar a few times to ensure topping sticks to cookie dough. You may need to re-form dough into a neat ball after rolling.and place 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheet.
- Place dough balls 2 inches apart on lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes in preheated oven. Cool snickerdoodles completely on a wire rack.
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Last Updated on October 18, 2022 by Chenée Lewis