How to Make Buttermilk

3.5 from 2 votes
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Knowing how to make this buttermilk recipe at home has saved me so many times. I constantly forget to buy it at the store leaving me with two options when I’m baking: make my own or run to the store.

This is probably the EASIEST kitchen hack you’ll ever learn!

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buttermilk in measuring cup

What is buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy drink. Back in the “olden days” it was the liquid that remained in the churn after churning butter out of cream. Back then, before refrigeration, having a use for this extra liquid was important so as not to waste it.

Today, most buttermilk is cultured and created from pasteurized milk by adding cultures that sours the milk.

Buttermilk Uses

This important ingredient is found in so many recipes! From cakes to pies to biscuits and breads, buttermilk is one of those important ingredients to have on hand.

It’s used for flavor in lots of recipes but the sourness is also used to activate baking soda – the reaction causes some recipes to rise, making it an important ingredient that affects the outcome of a recipe.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that use buttermilk:

How do you make buttermilk substitute?

Since it is such an important ingredient and not always used just for flavoring, we need to know if there is a substitute or how to make it at home.

All you need are two ingredients to make homemade buttermilk from milk:

  1. Milk (2% or nonfat is fine, whole is okay too)
  2. White vinegar or lemon juice

You simply mix the vinegar or lemon juice with the milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.

How do you make buttermilk from yogurt?

You can also substitute yogurt! Usually, 1 cup of regular yogurt can be substituted equally for 1 cup of buttermilk.

You can also mix ¼ cup of milk with ¾ cup of regular yogurt for a thinner consistency.

If you’re using GREEK yogurt, mix equal parts of milk with the Greek yogurt.

ingredients to substitute for buttermilk

2 Ingredient Buttermilk Recipe Substitutes

While it’s usually best to use the actual ingredients called for when baking, sometimes substitutes are a must. Here are a few ways you can substitute for 1 cup of buttermilk:

  • 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 cup regular yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk + ¾ cup yogurt
  • ½ cup milk + ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk + ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk + 1 ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water + 4 tablespoons powdered buttermilk

The best buttermilk substitute is milk + white vinegar or lemon juice.

PRO TIP

How to make Vegan or Dairy Free Buttermilk

This is one of the questions I get most often! Most of the time you CAN do this but you must follow my rule!

Non-dairy milk won’t “curdle” like buttermilk does when you add the vinegar. But you can’t just swap a non-dairy milk without the vinegar or lemon juice because often the recipe needs the acid to activate the baking soda.

My solution: make it as stated in the recipe below (1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice + 1 scant cup almond milk or other nondairy milk) and just add it to the recipe. This will ensure the leavening works as its supposed to.

How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

Buttermilk will last a few weeks in the refrigerator if it’s from the store (check the sell by date). Homemade buttermilk won’t last as long – use it within a day or two.

Can you freeze buttermilk?

Yes you can freeze it! You can freeze milk or buttermilk. I recommend freezing it in its original container or an airtight one. Freeze for up to one month. You can even freeze buttermilk in small containers of 1 cup each so that you just have to pull out some when you want to make pancakes or vanilla cupcakes.

Be sure to read some of my other Baking Tips and Tricks:

How to make Buttermilk

Knowing how to make buttermilk at home will save you time and money! Plus learn about all the subsitutes you can use for buttermilk.
3.5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Yield 1 cup
Serving Size 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 scant cup milk 2% or nonfat, whole is fine

Instructions

  • Add vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup. Add milk to the 1 cup line. Let sit for 5 minutes. Use in place of buttermilk.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 3kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 1mg | Sugar: 1g

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Keyword buttermilk, how to
buttermilk in measuring cup

Last Updated on April 1, 2022

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4 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. A lot of blah blah blah, an extreme amount of adds!
    I find I need to add more vinegar or lemon juice as I use lactose free milk. Just jump to the recipe.
    I suppose some might find all the recipes useful.
    But I use this for tenderising chicken pieces before coating and baking them.

  2. I’m looking forward to trying your buttermilk pie recipe. I always am never sure about something. The recipe calls for 1/2 Cup butter, melted. Is that amount before melting or after melting the butter?

  3. I can’t wait to try one of your alternatives. I used to make my own buttermilk with milk and vinegar then it suddenly stopped curdling. I wasn’t sure if it would ruin my recipe so I resorted to buying buttermilk which ends up being very wasteful. Maybe the sour cream option will work. Thanks for sharing.