How to Make Buttermilk

4 from 1 vote

Knowing how to make buttermilk 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.

Making your own buttermilk 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.

What is it used for?

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 at home?

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

What else can I use as a substitute for buttermilk?

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.


Can I use nondairy milk when my recipe calls for 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.

Learning what to substitute for buttermilk will help you when you’re baking, especially if you don’t want to run to the store!

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.
4 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Yield 1 cup
Serving Size 1 cup


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


  • 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
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3 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. 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?

  2. 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.