If you're anything like me, you may find yourself in the middle of a recipe and missing buttermilk. I rarely have store-bought buttermilk on hand, and that's ok, because making homemade buttermilk is a very simple task! In fact, with this easy buttermilk substitute, you'll probably never buy buttermilk again!
Buttermilk is a wonderful ingredient in so many recipes, adding a tangy depth of flavor and a light and fluffy texture that can't be beat. Recipes like buttermilk biscuits, red velvet cake, and Irish soda bread all create their flavor profiles from buttermilk.
While traditional buttermilk is the fermented liquid left over from making butter, not everyone has that one hand these days.
We are blessed with a dairy cow, so we do have it on hand from time to time, but typically our buttermilk goes to the chickens who love it as part of their diet!
So, when I need some buttermilk for a recipe, I just make what I need with this easy, no-waste, buttermilk substitute recipe.
How to Make Buttermilk at Home
There are several methods for making your own buttermilk, so you can pick the one that best suits the ingredients you have on hand.
Basic ratio: 1 cup of milk + 1 tablespoon liquid acid.
3 Methods for Making Buttermilk
I often don't keep fresh lemons on hand, as we try to eat what we grow (and lemons don't grow in my area of Texas that well), but I do always have vinegar and cream of tarter.
Choose from the following options, based on what you have available, and let's make some buttermilk!
Note: If you add your acid first, and then pour the milk up to the 1 cup line in your measuring cup, you'll end up with exactly 1 cup of buttermilk. Otherwise, you will end up with just a little bit more than 1 cup of homemade buttermilk.
- 1 cup buttermilk = 1 Tablespoon white vinegar + 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup buttermilk = 1 Tablespoon lemon juice + 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup buttermilk = 1 and ¾ teaspoon cream of tarter + 1 cup of milk
Once you have your ingredients on hand, simply mix them together in a non-metallic container, and let the mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes.
You may see some light curdling, that's totally normal! It's also normal if you don't see the milk starting to separate into solids. Either way, your buttermilk is ready to use after that short 5-10 minute rest.
That's it! You've just made a cup of buttermilk for use in your recipe. Enjoy!
Ratios for Making a Smaller Amount of Buttermilk
Maybe you're thinking to yourself, wait, I only need 1/2 a cup of buttermilk, I don't want to waste the rest!
No problem. You have 2 options!
- You can either double the recipe you're making and freeze the extras (my personal favorite option).
- You can make only as much buttermilk as you need.
Use this guide to make the exact amount of buttermilk needed for recipes, without any extras left over.
- 1/4 cup buttermilk: 3/4 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice + 1/4 cup milk
- 1/3 cup buttermilk: 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice + 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup buttermilk: 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice + 1/2 cup milk
- 2/3 cup buttermilk: 2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice + 2/3 cup milk
- 3/4 cup buttermilk: 2 1/4 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice + 3/4 cup milk
Dairy Free Alternatives for Homemade Buttermilk
If you are trying to avoid dairy for whatever reason, I have great news for you! This recipe will work with any type of milk that you have on hand.
So, if you typically use almond milk, rice milk, or any other type of non-dairy milk, you can still use these exact ratios to make a non-dairy buttermilk substitute!
Common Questions About This Buttermilk Substitute
Many recipes that call for buttermilk rely on that ingredient to create a distinct flavor and texture. With plain milk that profile would be missing from the recipe and might cause the recipe to seem "off". Aside from that, the buttermilk also causes a stronger reaction from the basic ingredients in the recipe, such as baking soda, and the reaction would be lesser without the buttermilk.
Yes! This is recipe for buttermilk at home can be made with any type of non-dairy or dairy milk you have on hand.
Sadly, no. This is a buttermilk substitute for baking only. It doesn't have the health benefits of drinking real, fermented buttermilk.
Those are curds from the milk separating in reaction to the acid being added. This is totally normal and will not affect the texture of your baked goods.
Absolutely! Curds are not necessary for the acid to still be present. As long as you waited a few minutes before using, your buttermilk substitute is ready to use!
I wouldn't recommend making a bunch to keep in the fridge, as the curdling process will continue, and you may not use it all before the milk goes bad. However, you can make it in advance and freeze it into portions for up to 3 months. Just remember to thaw some before you need it!
Homemade Buttermilk | Easy Buttermilk Substitute
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice OR white vinegar
- Once you have your ingredients on hand, simply mix them together in a non-metallic container, and let the mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes.
- You may see some light curdling, that's totally normal! It's also normal if you don't see the milk starting to separate into solids. Either way, you're buttermilk is ready to use after that short 5-10 minute rest.