Snickerdoodles without cream of tartar


Snickerdoodles (Photograph by Adrian)
Snickerdoodles (Photograph by Adrian)

So, the other night we were watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay because he’s the man, and they were doing chocolate chip cookies. It was 9PM, right about the time we start craving a tasty treat, but alas, I had no chocolate chips! Terrible, I know. I should always have a reserve. Of course, I found out later that I actually had semisweet baking chocolate in the back that would have served for chocolate chunk cookies, but I digress. Anyway, I figured that I could make snickerdoodles with what I had on hand – simple fluffy cookies with cinnamon sugar, right? WRONG. (Well, sort of.)

Turns out that your traditional snickerdoodles have cream of tartar. Honestly, I’ve never used the stuff and have no reason to keep it around, so I thought I was doomed. Luckily, Google + Martha Stewart came to the rescue! I made the cookies as directed and they were perfectly fluffy and tasty and held up really well against milk, both in terms of flavor and dunking them (as Adrian always has to do). Here’s the recipe with my additions in italics, from Martha’s Holiday Cookies 2005.

A couple of notes first: baking them on a Silpat made for much better cookies than a nonstick foil-lined sheet pan (I don’t have parchment paper at the moment, either), and beating the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes until pale and fluffy is absolutely crucial.


  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Need some leggings to keep you comfy while you bake and enjoy your cookies? I got you covered there, too.


  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside (if you have a stand mixer, you can do the sifting while the butter and sugar are beating). Put butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.
  • Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 20 (1 3/4-inch) balls (really easy to do with an ice cream scoop, was about 3/4 of mine); roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper (or a Silpat / silicone baking sheet).
  • Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

42 responses to “Snickerdoodles without cream of tartar”

  1. So, if clarinet doesn’t work out for Adrian….you could be a recipe tester and Adrian could photograph food for magazines or other advertisements….the risotto recipe looks great, I’m looking forward to trying it soon!!

  2. Alex grandson loves these cookies…amazing how most recipes for Snickerdoodles are similar,
    variations is butter or shortening/margarine, with/without cream of tartar,with/without vanilla.All comments great to read!

  3. I made these for my Brother-in-law for his birthday. I’m not usually a Snickerdoodle fan (I love my Chocolate), but these were really good! I made some slight changes, but used this as a starting point. Thanks


  4. Hey there! I want to thank you for these, but I have a question. Right now, my snickerdoodles are baking for testing, but I noticed the batter was too sticky to shape with hands. Did I do anything wrong? I put it the remaining batter in the fridge, but will it help at all?

    • Chilling the dough will definitely work, it’s just that the butter was a bit melted. I put mine in the fridge for a few minutes and they were just perfect. If you want, you can play around with it a bit and add a bit more flour, a bit less butter, etc.

    • Cream of tartar is an acid. In combination with baking soda, a chemical reaction creates the signature cracked texture on the tops of the cookies.

    • Actually, baking soda only has one ingredient; sodium bicarbonate. It requires an acid to react as a leavener, which in this case is the cream of tartar and tends to react right away. Baking powder on the other hand also contains sodium bicarbonate, as well as two acids so it does not require an added acid to act as a leavener. It reacts more slowly.

    • Likely the dough was over worked and whatever fat you used in the dough (likely butter) melted due to the heat of your hands. When put into the oven, it spread due to the overly heated dough. Next time, just try putting it in the fridge for a few minutes before baking.

  5. I made them, added extra flour and they rocked!!! I def recommend if u like a tad sweeter , just press in the cinnamon sugar once you’ve scooped it. Thanks for the recipe!!!!!!!

  6. Tasted the dough before baking and was skeptical, but was totally blown away by the texture and flavor once out of the oven!! My batch didn’t spread out so I pressed them with a fork peanut butter cookie style after they had baked 10 minutes and then put them back in for two more – perfect!

    Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  7. These are amazing! I made caramel to go on top and added a little sea salt – perfect salted caramel snickerdoodles 🙂

  8. These were amazing…. my family begs for them now… the perfect addition to our Christmas cookie buffet… thank you so much for sharing your Snickerdoodle recipe!

  9. I’ve always loved and baked great Snickerdoodles. The one time I attempted them without Cream of Tartar they were hard as a rock. Never again! If I don’t have Cream Of Tartar there will unfortunately be no Snickerdoodles.

  10. Thank you so much I had no cream of tartar so I followed your recipe but added extra flour and they were fantastic

  11. The cookie dough was very hard when we mixed all the ingredients together. So we tried to make donuts and that failed. lol these are so bad.

  12. Amazing comments can’t wait to try your recipe…One question has anyone tried it with coconut oil? The

  13. I made a half batch.It yielded approx. 15 cookies.I added an extra tablespoon of margarine,then refrigerated it for 20 minutes.worked fine!

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