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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. This is probably the EASIEST kitchen hack you’ll ever learn! Learn all the different ways to substitute for buttermilk in cake, banana bread, or anything you’re baking.

measuring cup full of buttermilk.

What do I use if I don’t have 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
  • 1/4 cup milk + 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk + 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk + 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water + 4 tablespoons powdered buttermilk

When using milk, you can use whole milk, fat free milk or 2% milk.

milk, vinegar, yogurt, sour cream, lemon on counter.

How to make Buttermilk

  1. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to a measuring cup.
  2. Fill up the milk to the 1 cup mark.
  3. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.

How to make Vegan or Dairy Free Buttermilk

Non-dairy milk won’t “curdle” like regular milk 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.

measuring cup full of buttermilk.

Buttermilk Uses

This important ingredient is found in so many recipes! From cakes to pies to biscuits and breads, this 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.


How do you make buttermilk from yogurt?

Usually, 1 cup of regular yogurt can be substituted equally for 1 cup of buttermilk. You can also mix 1/4 cup of milk with 3/4 cup of regular yogurt for a thinner consistency. If you’re using GREEK yogurt, mix equal parts of milk with the Greek yogurt.

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.

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 in measuring cup

How to make Buttermilk Recipe

4.73 from 11 votes
Knowing how to make buttermilk at home will save you time and money! Plus learn about all the subsitutes you can use for buttermilk.
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

Recipe Notes

Other substitutions:
  • 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 cup regular yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk + 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk + 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk + 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water + 4 tablespoons powdered buttermilk

Recipe Nutrition

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

Baking Tips

Last Updated on February 15, 2023

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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Recipe Rating


  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.

    1. At the top of the page before you get to any of the, “Blah,Blah,blah”, as you say, is a tab that states, “Jump To Recipe”. It is generally like that on most recipe pages that I visit. It is there so you don’t have to go through the ads or read the commentary.

  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.