Easy Buttermilk Substitute


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Easy Buttermilk substitute for cooking and baking! Learn How to Make Buttermilk with just two ingredients! Dairy-free and vegan, too!

Looking for delicious recipes using buttermilk? I think you’ll love my buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk biscuits, and my caramel cake!

How to Make Buttermilk - Making buttermilk substitute is easy and cost effective. With just a few simple ingredients, learn to make buttermilk substitute to use in so many recipes. // addapinch.com

What is Buttermilk?

Traditionally, it was the leftover liquid from churning cream to make butter. This is now referred to as traditional buttermilk.

What you buy in the grocery stores is now cultured, which is produced by adding cultures to milk during the fermentation process to simulate the lactic acid that would naturally occur in the traditional kind.

Buttermilk adds a rich, tangy flavor and a thicker consistency than other kinds of milk. It works to tenderize meat and vegetables. The lactic acid also reacts with other ingredients like baking powder and baking soda in recipes and acts as a leavener. This helps batters and doughs to rise and be more tender.

My homemade substitute works the same in cooking and baking. It’s such a time saver to be able to make your own.

Buttermilk Substitute

Buttermilk is one ingredient that I love to have on hand. I never like being without it. But, sometimes, I think I have plenty in the fridge, only to realize that I don’t.

That’s when it is great to know how to make your own!

It is easy to do and only takes two ingredients that work perfectly in baking and cooking. It tastes just like store-bought buttermilk.

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Buttermilk?

There are a few homemade substitutions you can use when a recipe calls for buttermilk. Pick the option that works for you based on what you have available.

  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1 cup buttermilk = ¾ cup sour cream + ¼ cup water or milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar (distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup water + 1/4 cup buttermilk powder

How to Make Buttermilk Substitute

The simplest way to make your own homemade buttermilk substitute is to add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of regular milk or dairy-free milk (see below). Allow the milk to sit for about 5 minutes to thicken. You can expect it will appear to be slightly curdled. Stir the mixture to combine and use as you would buttermilk. The texture and consistency will be very similar to traditional buttermilk once combined.

You can use any of the combinations I’ve provided above to make one cup of homemade buttermilk substitute. If you need more or less buttermilk, you can easily scale the recipe to fit the amount you need.

How to Make Dairy-Free and Vegan

You can also make an easy dairy-free buttermilk substitute to use in your recipes. This is perfect for those who have dairy allergies or who need a vegan buttermilk substitution.

To make a dairy-free and/ or, use your favorite non-dairy milk such as almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk, or oat milk in place of the store-bought buttermilk called for in the recipe! It’s that easy!

  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup non-dairy milk (coconut, soy, rice, oat, almond) + 1 tablespoon  lemon juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup non-dairy milk (coconut, soy, rice, oat, almond) = 1 tablespoon vinegar (distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar)

How to Store Buttermilk Substitute

To store. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Can You Freeze Buttermilk?

Yes! Spoon any that has not been used by the tablespoon into an ice cube tray. Place the tray into the freezer until frozen well, about an hour. Remove from the freezer and dispense the frozen cubes into a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Glass measuring cup with milk and glass bowl with vinegar to make buttermilk substitute // addapinch.com

How to Use Buttermilk

Adds Flavor

It adds a rich, tangy flavor to dishes such as salad dressings and dips.


It’s great for soaking meats and vegetables to make them more tender before cooking, generally frying.

Leavens Baked Goods

It reacts with other chemical leaveners in recipes to produce gas bubbles which then helps cakes, cookies, and other baked goods to rise.

Here’s how to make my easy buttermilk substitute. I hope you find this useful!

How to Make Buttermilk

5 from 23 votes
Easy Buttermilk substitutions for cooking and baking! Learn How to Make Buttermilk with just two ingredients! Dairy-free and vegan, too!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 cup


  • 1 cup whole milk, or 2% or 1%
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar , or lemon juice


  • Pour milk into a glass measuring cup. Add vinegar OR lemon juice and allow to sit for about 5 minutes before use. You can expect it to appear curdled. Stir it and then use as you would store-bought buttermilk.


The recipe may be increased or decreased proportionately.

Additional Buttermilk Substitution options:

  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1 cup buttermilk = ¾ cup sour cream + ¼ cup water or milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup water + 1/4 cup buttermilk powder

Dairy-Free Buttermilk:

For dairy-free buttermilk, substitute your preferred non-dairy milk (coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, etc.) with the whole milk called for in the recipe. 



Serving: 1cup | Calories: 149kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 93mg | Potassium: 366mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Calcium: 301mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Robyn xo

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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Recipe Review


  1. Mimi G says:

    Of your many options, do you find any preferable? Or are some better than other depending on what you are using the buttermilk for?

    Thank you for posting all this information. I knew about adding lemon juice to milk, but not about any of the other substitutes.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Mimi, I tend to use what I have on hand and I almost always have milk, vinegar, lemon juice.

  2. Vickie Knox says:

    Curious as to why glass measuring cup over plastic? I will be using this idea but since I only have plastic at this time I am hoping I can pour the milk into a plastic measuring cup then before adding the juice or vinegar I will put it into a glass cup. I believe this will be Ok but without knowing why you specifically said glass I am not sure if the outcome will be OK.
    Thanks, please let me know why glass over plastic.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Vickie, you can use a plastic measuring cup if you wish. I just always use a glass one.

  3. Poly Marouda says:

    looks good