Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad?

Does cream of tartar go bad? Cream of tartar is essentially a powdered form of tartaric acid used in baking. Cream of tartar is mixed with egg whites to give baked goods a great amount of lift. When mixed with baking soda, it becomes baking powder.

Since cream of tartar is in powdered form, it has a relatively long shelf life. In fact, cream of tartar will keep in the pantry for months, even years, as long as it is stored properly. Some say that cream of tartar could keep indefinitely in the pantry as long as the product is kept cool and dry. But to be on the safe side, try not to test this theory.

Image used under Creative Commons from Melissa Wiese

If say, you have a container of cream of tartar lying around in the kitchen for years, you might want to check the expiry date of the product. If you are unsure and you are seeing weird changes in the overall appearance of the product, always err to the side of caution.

How to Store Cream of Tartar?

Cream of tartar is best stored in the pantry. It’s impressive how shelf-stable cream of tartar is, it can keep in the pantry for years. This goes especially for unopened containers of cream of tartar. Of course, certain factors have to be considered when storing this product at room temperature.

As with most powdered products, cream of tartar has the tendency to draw moisture from the air. This is the reason why the container has to be kept tightly sealed after every use. Also, avoid exposing the product in a humid environment because this can affect the quality of the cream of tartar over time.

The container must be free from leaks, cracks, condensation, and punctures. If the packaging is damaged in any way, discard the contents of the container and just buy a fresh batch of cream of tartar. If you are unsure if the cream of tartar is still usable, try stirring a half teaspoon of the product into a half cup of warm water. Then, add a pinch of baking soda. If the mixture generates foam, the cream of tartar is still usable for baking.

We do not recommend storing cream of tartar in the fridge or in the freezer. The moisture from the fridge or freezer will affect the overall quality and consistency of the product.

Shelf Life of Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar will keep indefinitely in the pantry. But according to McCormick, their cream of tartar has a shelf life of 1, 440 days or 3 Years and 11 months. However, some were able to use cream of tartar that is more than 5 years old and got great results.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

How to Tell if Cream of Tartar Has Gone Bad?

It’s hard to tell if cream of tartar has gone bad simply because the changes in color often goes unnoticed. But if say, the product started clumping together, it might’ve drawn moisture in the air and is no longer in the best quality. Check the color of the cream of tartar. It should be pure white, not pale yellow or ridden with dark specks. If you are seeing slight discoloration, the cream of tartar might have gone bad. Cream of tartar has a relatively mild aroma so if it starts giving off an odd odor, discard the product immediately.  Finally, give the container a good shake. If the powdered product is still loose, it’s still fine to use.


Does cream of tartar go bad? Cream of tartar will keep virtually forever as long as it is stored properly! But there are certain factors to consider when storing this product. Keeping it from sources of heat, light, and moisture is important to extend the quality of cream of tartar. The container you used will also affect the quality of cream of tartar. Cream of tartar will keep for a long time so go ahead and buy this product in bulk.