Sugar cookie mix + cream of tartar = snickerdoodles?

I’ve been told that what makes snickerdoodles different from cinnamon covered sugar cookies is cream of tartar. So if I have a bag of pre-made sugar cookie mix, can I add cream of tartar and cinnamon and end up with snickerdoodles?

I don’t have my mom’s recipe here with me (I’m at work) but I do remember that her sugar cookies had cream of tartar in them. She never put cinnamon on a sugar cookie. I THINK snickerdoodles have cinnamon in the batter and are also rolled in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. I’ll have to look at the recipe when I get home.

To me, it is cream of tartar in the dough and cinnnamon on the top that makes snickerdoodles snickerdoodles. So, yes, I would think if you have sugar cookie mix, you could add cream of tartar and cinnamon and have a perfectly acceptable snickerdoodle. However, if your sugar cookie mix is already in dough form, I would worry that you won’t be able to work the cream of tartar in evenly throughout the dough without overworking it and making your cookies tough.

Same here. This is my favorite snickerdoodle recipe.

The key is that the leavening agent is cream of tartar and baking soda, but that there is a little bit of unreacted tartaric acid left over to give the snickerdoodles their signature light tang. That said, these days, it seems “snickerdoodles” just refers to any kind of cinnamon-dusted sugar cookie. I made the mistake of buying commercial snickerdoodle dough at Aldi or perhaps a regional supermarket (you know, like how you can get Tollhouse cookie dough in a chub) and it was just a cinnamon-flavored sugar cookie. Same if I buy fully baked snickerdoodles at the local grocery. They don’t have that tang. I can only get what I consider “real” snickerdoodles by baking them at home.

Snickerdoodles, as I know them, do not have cinnamon in the dough. It’s just dusted on at the end.

If the cookie mix has baking powder in it, then add less cream of tartar but the cinnamon and cream of tartar are really the only difference.

I should say, that’s what I assume is giving the cookies their tang. The full reaction produces water, CO2, and potassium sodium tartrate, which apparently has a slightly salty, bitter taste to it. So my assumption is that the tang comes from leftover tartaric acid, but I don’t know for certain. At any rate, with sugar cookies that already have a leavening agent in them (which yours certainly would), I would only add the slightest bit of cream of tartar, maybe an eighth to quarter teaspoon for a batch, as the cookies shouldn’t come out sour, but rather have a lingering, mild tang to them.

When neutralizing acids and bases in cooking, you should always err on the side of acid, because while too much acid will taste bad, it only takes a slight bit of base to be too much and taste bad.

I’m guessing that the first maker of what became snickerdoodles wasn’t trying specifically for that tart flavor, but was just making sure that they weren’t bitter, and overshot a bit. And so that became traditional for that sort of cookie. But as baking became more tightly controlled, especially industrial baking, less margin for error was needed, and so the cookies could be made more neutral, leading to the non-tart ones that disappointed pulykamell.