Buttermilk Substitute

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Buttermilk Substitute

Working on a recipe that calls for buttermilk? If you don’t have any on hand, or you don’t use it often enough to justify buying a bottle, just use this simple substitute instead:

Pour one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup.

Then, add milk, until you reach the one cup line.

Let the mixture stand for 5 to 10 minutes. This will give the milk time to thicken and curdle, and create what is known as clabbered milk. Use this substitute as a one-to-one replacement for the buttermilk called for in your recipe. Easy!

Looking for a Dairy-Free or Vegan Buttermilk Substitute?

Just swap in your favorite non-dairy milk for the milk that’s called for in this substitute. If possible, use non-flavored soy, rice or almond milk, so you don’t alter the flavor of the recipe significantly.

Buttermilk Pancakes

More Buttermilk Substitutes to Try

Plain Yogurt

Add milk or water to yogurt to thin it to the consistency of buttermilk. If you’re using plain yogurt, combine 1/4 cup liquid and 3/4 cup yogurt. If you’re using Greek yogurt, combine 2/3 cup liquid and 1/3 cup yogurt. This will give you a substitute that’s the same thickness as buttermilk, so you won’t have to worry that your baked goods will spread more than they should.

Sour Cream

Mix together 3/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup water, or milk, to create a buttermilk substitute. This will give you another substitute that’s as thick as buttermilk, so it’s a good option when you’re making biscuits, pancakes or other baked goods that are prone to spreading.

Milk and Cream of Tartar

Stir 1-3/4 tsp cream of tartar into one cup of milk. Continue stirring, until the cream of tartar has fully dissolved.


Use an equal amount of unflavored kefir for the buttermilk called for in your recipe.

Jug of Homemade Buttermilk

Homemade Buttermilk

If you have heavy cream in your fridge, skip the substitutes, and make the real deal. It won’t take you any longer. Just pour heavy cream into a stand mixer, and whip it on high. It’ll turn into whipped cream first, but if you keep whipping it, it’ll soon separate into butter and buttermilk. Use the buttermilk in your recipe, and save the butter for something else.

Can I Just Leave the Buttermilk Out of a Recipe?

Probably not. Buttermilk serves three purposes in recipes:

1. It adds thickness.
2. It contributes a slight sourness or tanginess.
3. The acid in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda in a recipe to leaven baked goods.

If it’s only providing a bit of thickness and tang to a recipe, you might be able to get away with leaving it out, but if it’s a part of the leavening process in a cake, biscuit or bread recipe, you definitely don’t want to omit it. All of the substitutes shared in this article contain an acid that will serve this important function.

How to Freeze Buttermilk

How to Freeze Buttermilk

If you avoid buying buttermilk because it always goes bad before you get around to using it up, consider buying a bottle and freezing it in small, manageable amounts. An ice cube tray is perfect for this. Just fill the tray with buttermilk; allow it to freeze; then, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag. One cube is the equivalent of one ounce or two tablespoons of buttermilk. Just grab as many cubes as you need for your recipe, and allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge, or defrost them in the microwave. Here’s how to figure out how many cubes you need to thaw:

• 2 cubes = 1/4 cup
• 4 cubes = 1/2 cup
• 6 cubes = 3/4 cup
• 8 cubes = 1 cup

Powdered Buttermilk

Powdered Buttermilk

Another great way to ensure you’ll always have buttermilk on hand is to purchase a container of powdered buttermilk. This shelf-stable product works just like regular powdered milk. Simply reconstitute it with water, and you have real buttermilk to use in your recipes. And since you can mix up just what you need, you won’t have any leftovers that you’ll have to find a use for.

Saco is the brand of powered buttermilk that’s most readily available. Look for it on the baking aisle, or order it from Amazon.

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Buttermilk Substitute

Buttermilk Substitute

Use one of these buttermilk substitutes to replace the buttermilk called for in any recipe. Includes dairy-free and vegan options.

  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1 scant cup milk


Pour lemon juice or vinegar into a liquid measuring cup.

Fill the rest of the way with milk, until you reach the one cup line.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes, so the milk thickens and curdles. This is what’s known as clabbered milk.

Replace measure for measure with the buttermilk called for in your recipe.

To create a dairy-free or vegan substitute, use unflavored almond or soy milk in place of the milk that’s called for.


More Buttermilk Substitutes

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt + 1/4 cup milk or water
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt + 2/3 cup milk or water
  • 3/4 cup sour cream + 1/4 cup milk or water
  • 1-3/4 tsp cream of tartar + 1 cup milk
  • Equal amounts Kefir

Keywords: buttermilk substitute, buttermilk substitute vegan, buttermilk substitute dairy-free

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  1. Thank you so much for the buttermilk substitute…I needed it for a recipe and hate to buy it as it never gets fully used…THESE are the things that make you soooo valuable;)

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