If you’re looking for a buttermilk substitute you’ve come to the right place. We’re breaking down how to make buttermilk three different ways with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. So hang your coat back up–no need to run to the store. We’re making buttermilk with vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar and plain old milk!

Looking for some delicious recipes to use your freshly made buttermilk substitute in? Try our seriously moist homemade vanilla cake, fluffy blueberry pancakes, or fudgy chocolate cake!

how to make buttermilk substitute

How to Make Buttermilk

“I always love to keep a perishable quart of buttermilk in my fridge at all times,” said no one EVER. Even if you bake every darn day like I do, I bet you don’t buy buttermilk. Which means you’ve come to the right place, because we’re about to break down exactly how to make buttermilk with three different easy buttermilk substitutes made with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

You. Are. Welcome.

What is buttermilk?

Let’s get something out of the way first: Buttermilk is not “buttery milk,” as the name might suggest. Buttermilk contains no butter, you can not make buttermilk from butter + milk, and it’s actually not even a thick creamy, buttery consistency. Buttermilk is called buttermilk because it’s made by churning (just like butter is). It’s tangy, slightly acidic, and a little bit thicker than regular milk. It is superior to regular milk when it comes to baking because it adds beautiful flavor, moistness, and extra rise to baked goods.

Where can you buy buttermilk?

You can buy buttermilk in the dairy aisle of most grocery stores, or a powdered version in the baking aisle. That being said, buttermilk generally has a 2 week lifespan, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not going through quarts of buttermilk biweekly. And if there’s one thing I hate, it’s wasting ingredients.

The good news is that you can make buttermilk at home–no churning required.

So, no, you’re not actually making buttermilk, but you are making a pretty darn good substitute for it. It substitutes out the real deal seamlessly and produces the same results as store bought buttermilk.

Better yet? We have three different ways to make buttermilk at home.

So go ahead, pick your poison:

  • Vinegar
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Lemon Juice

How to make buttermilk substitute.

Depending on what you have on hand, you can find the different variations on how to make buttermilk below!

1. How to make Buttermilk with Milk and Vinegar

how to make buttermilk substitute with vinegar

You can make homemade buttermilk with 1 cup of milk and 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Simply stir the two ingredients together and let them sit for 5 minutes. The milk will react with the acidity of the vinegar and curdle slightly, creating the same, tangy, creaminess of store bought buttermilk!

1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 Tablespoon vinegar

^this is the only kind of math I can get behind. You can adjust the recipe accordingly for however much buttermilk you use! 

And because I HATE doing math, I made this little table, so that you also don’t have to do math 🙂 Enjoy.

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk = 1/4 cup milk + 3/4 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk = 1/3 cup milk + 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk = 1/2 cup milk + 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk = 3/4 cup milk + 2 1/4 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 cups buttermilk = 2 cups milk + 2 Tablespoons vinegar

how to make buttermilk substitute with vinegar

What kind of vinegar should you use to make buttermilk?

We always use apple cider vinegar, but you could also use a standard white vinegar! Apple cider vinegar has a mild sweetness that incorporates well into baked goods, adding a little extra tang and a little extra rise to your baked goods without an overpowering vinegar-y flavor! We love Braggs (not sponsored, just true).

2. How to make Buttermilk with Milk and Lemon Juice

how to make buttermilk with lemon juice

Lemon works in exactly the same way the vinegar we explained above works. The acidity from the lemon juice will react with the milk to create the perfect buttermilk substitute with a mildly lemon flavor. This will work perfectly for lemon loaves, pancakes, or anything that you want to add a little extra brightness to!

1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

We broke it down into an easy table for you depending on what your recipe calls for!

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk = 1/4 cup milk + 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk = 1/3 cup milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk = 1/2 cup milk + 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk = 3/4 cup milk + 2 1/4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups buttermilk = 2 cups milk + 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

how to make buttermilk with lemon juice

If you’re using freshly squeezed lemon juice, make  sure to strain out any seeds! You can also use store bought lemon juice and get the same results, so feel free to use whatever you have on hand for this lemon juice buttermilk substitute.

3. How to make Buttermilk with Milk and Cream of Tartar

how to make homemade buttermilk

You can also make buttermilk using cream of tartar if you don’t have either of the liquids on hand (we’ve all been there). Simply mix together 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1 cup of milk and let it stand for 5 minutes!

1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup of milk + 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar!

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk = 1/4 cup milk + heaping 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk = 1/3 cup milk + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk = 1/2 cup milk + scant teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk = 3/4 cup milk + 1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 cups buttermilk = 2 cups milk + 1 Tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

how to make buttermilk recipe

Happy baking, love bugs! Enjoy these buttermilk substitutes in all your upcoming recipes, and let us know if you have any questions!

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How to Make Buttermilk

how to make buttermilk substitute

If you’re looking for a buttermilk substitute you’ve come to the right place. We’re breaking down how to make buttermilk three different ways with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. So hang your coat back up–no need to run to the store. We’re making buttermilk with vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar and plain old milk!

  • Author: Sofi | Broma Bakery
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup buttermilk 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice OR 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar OR 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the milk with the lemon juice OR apple cider OR cream of tartar* and whisk together.
  2. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes to combine. Once the mixture has curdled slightly use in place of buttermilk in recipes!

Notes

  • 1 cup of milk only requires one option! Do NOT add all three 🙂
  • For non dairy buttermilk, feel free to use a thicker nondairy milk like coconut milk or cashew milk!

Keywords: how to make buttermilk, buttermilk substitute

how to make buttermilk

5 comments

Susan
Reply

Thank you! I will keep the cream of tartar method in mind. I knew about lemon juice and apple cider vinegar but not cream of tartar.

Mary
Reply

These are all good buttermilk substitutes, But real buttermilk is cultured with a bacterial culture. You can get cultures to make and propagate buttermilk like yogurt.

Sofi | Broma Bakery
Reply

Totally agree! It’s definitely not real buttermilk by any means 🙂

Sabrina
Reply

had no idea how to make this, thank you, love being able to make buttermilk at home

joan
Reply

Thanks for the tip!

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