How To Make Buttermilk Substitute

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If you need buttermilk but have none at home, then this post will show you how to make buttermilk substitutes at home, with just two pantry-friendly ingredients and a few minutes (vegan options too)!

homemade buttermilk in a white jug

Buttermilk is a wonderful ingredient when used in baking – known for its acidic, tangy flavor and power to tenderize gluten and react with baking soda in baked goods, for fluffy and light results. However, if you have none to hand, then not all is lost. This post will show you how to make buttermilk at home, using simple two-ingredient methods to make a buttermilk substitute. 

Of course, if you want to make actual buttermilk, then this is the byproduct of making homemade butter. However, if that’s not possible, then there are several homemade buttermilk options, including dairy-free options! The main aim is to replace the acidic element of liquid to create the same tangy flavor that we’re used to with today’s commercial varieties. 

homemade butter and homemade buttermilk

Once ready, your homemade buttermilk substitute can be used in all the ways that store-bought versions are and work for over 90% of recipes (I would hazard a guess). Use it for classic buttermilk pancakes like this Pancake Cake, within salad dressings and dips, for buttermilk biscuits, for frying proteins, etc. 

What Is Buttermilk?

Traditionally, buttermilk referred to the thin, non-fat byproduct from churning cream into butter. However, lots of the store-bought options available today are a form of cultured milk to simulate the lactic acid that would have occurred in the traditional variety. 

What we’ll notice these days is that it can be made using all different fat-levels within the milk, you can also choose to make your buttermilk substitute at home correspondingly, using 2%, skim, full-fat milk, etc.

buttermilk inside a white bowl

Commercial versions are known for their acidic tang. However, homemade buttermilk leftover from butter making won’t taste the same unless you’d allowed the cream to sit out and begin to slightly sour before making the butter. 

In fact, to mimic the acidity of commercial varieties, you can actually add a 1 tsp of vinegar or lemon juice per 1 cup of natural buttermilk OR leave it in a jar at room temperature for 1-2 days, to begin to culture. 

How To Make Buttermilk Substitute

Homemade buttermilk, unless made through the butter churning process, is always actually a substitute. However, it still works amazingly as a buttermilk replacement in probably 90% of recipes calling for buttermilk. 

With how simple the process is to make the substitutions, this means it’s also incredibly easy to make dairy-free, vegan options too, as you’ll see below. My favorite method uses milk and an acidic ingredient. 

ingredients for making buttermilk alternative

The Ratios:

Fresh Lemon Juice – 1 tablespoon

OR

White vinegar – 1 tablespoon

PLUS

Milk – 1 Cup*

*You can remove 1 tbsp from the cup of milk, to make up for the additional liquid you get from the tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar

The Method:

Simply combine the milk and tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon in a bowl/ container and leave it to sit for around 10 minutes for the milk to ‘sour.’ Once rested, your homemade buttermilk replacement is ready to use. 

It really is as simple as that. 

pouring lemon juice into milk

For Dairy-free OR Vegan Options: 

As I said above, it’s incredibly easy to make a vegan version too. All you need to do is use your favorite dairy-free milk, and the above ratio tends to work with the majority of milk options- so whether you have coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, etc. 

How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

I tend to only make enough for a specific recipe. However, if you find that you have lots of it leftover, then it should be okay within the fridge for a few days. It will likely separate while in the fridge, just stir it thoroughly before using it again. 

It is also freezer-friendly and can be handily poured into large ice-cube trays to portion it and simply defrost as needed. Just make sure to note how much liquid is in each ice-cube portion- to know how much to thaw. 

Buttermilk in a heart shaped bowl

Recipe Notes & Variations

  • The type of dairy milks you can use here is interchangeable- 1%, 2%, full fat. You can also use half and half. 
  • Feel free to swap the milk out with your favorite Dairy-free, Lactose-free, or Vegan milk of choice. 
  • While this homemade buttermilk substitute method works for probably 90% of recipes calling for traditional buttermilk, there may be times when it doesn’t. In that case, you might want to try another cultured dairy product, such as:

Other Buttermilk Substitutes:

  • Yogurt: Combine and mix 3/4 cup plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of milk or water to thin.
  • Sour cream: Mix 3/4 cup sour cream with 1/4 cup of milk or water to thin. 
  • Kefir: Use water or milk to thin your kefir until it reached the right consistency.

Other Simple DIY’s You Might Like:

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. I also love seeing your recreations on Instagram, so tag @Alphafoodie.

How To Make Buttermilk Substitute

5 from 5 votes
By: Samira
If you need buttermilk but have none at home, then this post will show you how to make buttermilk substitutes at home, with just 2 pantry-friendly ingredients and a few minutes ( Vegan options too)!
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cup

Equipment

  • Bowl

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 Cup Milk *You can remove 1 tbsp from the cup of milk, to make up for the additional liquid you get from the tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • OR
  • 1 Tbsp White Vinegar

Instructions 

  • Simply combine the milk and tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon in a bowl/ container and leave it to sit for around 10 minutes for the milk to 'sour'. Once rested, your homemade buttermilk replacement is ready to use.
    pouring lemon juice into milk
  • How Long Does Buttermilk Last? I tend to only make enough for a specific recipe. However, if you find that you have lots of it leftover then it should be okay within the fridge for a few days. It will likely separate while in the fridge, just stir it thoroughly before using it again. 
    It is also freezer-friendly for a few months, and can be handily poured into large ice-cube trays to portion it and simply defrost as needed. Just make sure to note how much liquid is in each ice-cube portion- to know how much to thaw. 
    Buttermilk in a heart shaped bowl

Notes

  • The type of dairy milk you can use here is interchangeable- 1%, 2%, full fat. You can also use half and half.
  • Feel free to swap the milk out with your favorite Dairy-free, Lactose-free, or Vegan milk of choice- coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, etc.
  • While this homemade buttermilk substitute method works for probably 90% of recipes calling for traditional buttermilk, there may be times when it doesn't. In that case, you might want to try another cultured dairy product, such as:
Other Buttermilk Substitutes:
Yogurt: Combine and mix 3/4 cup plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of milk or water, to thin.
Sour cream: Mix 3/4 cup sour cream with 1/4 cup of milk or water to thin.
Kefir: Use water or milk to thin your kefir until it reached the right consistency.
Course: DIYs
Cuisine: American
Freezer friendly: 2 Months
Shelf life: 1 Week

Nutrition

Serving: 1Cup, Calories: 155kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 105mg, Potassium: 322mg, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 395IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 276mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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