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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!

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. //

Buttermilk Substitute

Buttermilk is one ingredient that I love to have on hand. I use it in so many recipes, from buttermilk pancakes to biscuits to buttermilk pie! I never like being without it. But, sometimes I think I have plenty only to realize that I don’t. This is when it is great to know how to make your own! It is so easy to do and only takes two ingredients that work perfectly in baking and cooking.

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

There are a few of the popular buttermilk substitutions. Pick the best option that works for you based on what you have available.

  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 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 distilled white vinegar

How to Make Buttermilk Substitute

The simplest way to make your own substitute is to add lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to a cup of milk or dairy-free milk (see below). Allow the milk to sit for about 10 minutes to thicken.

How to Make Dairy-Free and Vegan

Enjoy this dairy-free version to use in so many of your recipes. This is perfect for those who have dairy allergies or who follow a vegan diet and lifestyle.

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

  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup non-dairy milk (coconut, soy, rice, oat) + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup non-dairy milk (coconut, soy, rice, oat) = 1 tablespoon vinegar

Can You Freeze Buttermilk?

Yes! Simply 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 //

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.

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


Adds Flavor

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


It’s great for soaking meats and vegetables to tenderize them 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 homemade substitute. I hope you find this useful!

4.75 from 16 votes

How to Make Buttermilk

how to 10 mins

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. //
Prep Time 10 mins
Servings 1 cup
Course Drinks, how to
Cuisine American
Author Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch
Easy Buttermilk substitutions for cooking and baking! Learn How to Make Buttermilk with just two ingredients! Dairy-free and vegan, too!


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar OR lemon juice


  • Pour milk into a glass measuring cup. Add distilled white vinegar OR lemon juice and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before use. The milk will thicken. Use as you would in a recipe that calls for buttermilk.



Recipe may be increased or decreased proportionately.

Dairy-Free Buttermilk:

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

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Robyn xo

Kitchen Tips Recipes

Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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Recipe Review


  1. Good morning. Question for you. My grandmother always told me to decrease the milk by one tablespoon before adding the vinegar so that you were not increasing your liquid in your recipe….do you not find this necessary? Also, I have used whatever milk I have on hand (1%, 2% or whole). since the only buttermilk I can find in stores locally is lowfat (2.2%) Is whole milk really necessary? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Donna,
      You can decrease the amount of milk, but I’ve found that allowing the milk and vinegar or lemon juice to sit for a bit to thicken makes the measure the same as if using buttermilk. Now, I do use whole milk so that could make the difference. You can use 1% or 2%, if you prefer.

    2. I used this recipe today with another suggestion in the comments as well and my biscuits turned out wonderful. I had 2% milk so I measured a cup of milk, added two tbs melted butter(not margarine) then one tab of white vinegar and mixed and let sit while I was getting everything together and mixing my flour and Cristi stick with a pastry cutter. Thanks everyone I will never buy buttermilk again as I only use it when I make biscuits. 

  2. Since I use very little milk except for baking and cooking I only keep dry milk on hand. To make it into full fat milk use one cup of skim milk and add 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Then add your other ingredients to make your buttermilk recipe. Thank you for this recipe; I really don’t like using the buttermilk powder because of sodium issues. This will work perfectly for me. I love buttermilk in so many recipes.

    1. The process of making dry milk causes it to be loaded with MSG. Just a FYI if you have a intolerance to MSG.

  3. I love the recipes you post. Every recipe I have tried if yours is absolutely delicious!
    Thank you so much for posting them.

  4. Thanks for the skim milk version of buttermilk substitute…I never use buttermilk and I never use whole milk…this is just what I needed…Thanks a lot…keep up the good work and great recipes…

  5. Robyn,
    I use this recipe all the time. It works just as well as the store bought variety.

  6. You really should warn everyone that this isn’t good for making Irish Soda bread. I followed your recipe and made 7 large loaves. They were heavy and flat tasting. Had to st art again with real buttermilk and made 20 more loves in my son’s restaurant for St Patrick’s Day. Sometimes there is no substitute!

    1. Thank you for letting me know it isnt good for Irish soda bread .I am making it for first time and dont know the first thing about it.I just recently tasted it for first time and thought I would try to make some.Thanks again.

    2. Obviously she hasn’t tried this substitution with every single recipe that’s out there so it’s not her fault. Maybe don’t make 7 loaves of bread from a recipe/variation you’ve never tried before. Just saying. 

  7. Hi !
    I’m wondering if there’s any substitution without cow milk (never heard this expression in English, but in French, we say “lait de vache” which translates to “cow milk”). Is there any buttermilk substitution I could make with almond milk, soy milk, etc., I thought maybe coconut milk because it’s richer? 

    Thanks! And, by the way, I love your website 🙂 

    1. Hi Audree,
      I’ve not tried buttermilk substitute made from either of those other milks, so I can’t say how they would taste. Thanks so much for your comment – so glad to hear you enjoy the site. Nice to have you here! xo

  8. I’ve always used the vinegar method. Is fresh lemon juice just as effective? Is there a difference for example using lemon is better for cakes? Thanks!

  9. Can i use almond breeze (unsweetened) instead? With the lemon juice? I’m lactose intolerant, but still want the great benefits.

    1. I’ve never tried to make buttermilk with almond milk, Mae, so I can’t say how it turns out. I do know that this Homemade Buttermilk Substitute recipe works with Lactaid milk (lactose free milk). I hope this helps! Thanks Mae!

    1. You can use this buttermilk substitute anywhere you would use buttermilk. Enjoy Charlene! Thanks!

  10. Why not use the very convenient powdered buttermilk available in the bake aisle. Long shelf life and easy to use. Great pancake recipe on label! I have used it for years in all recipes.

    1. Buttermilk is actually expensive in my country and I have never heard of powdered buttermilk before. This recipe is great for us who can’t afford or dont have access to the real thing.

  11. If you’re making a larger batch say 8 cups of buttermilk, should you let it sit longer than 10 minutes? Just wondering as the batch size grows, should you allow for more time? Thanks! 

    1. Hi Libby,
      I’ve not made that much at one time so I’m not certain of the exact time it will take for it. I usually make a smaller amount as I need it for a recipe. Thanks!

    2. Bob, there is a section in the post How to Make Dairy-Free and Vegan that explains how to use dairy free milk substitutes.

  12. Hello Robyn,

    I use many of your recipes and always enjoy them. I was wondering, in regard to buttermilk, if you have a recipe for sugar cookies using buttermilk? If so, can you put it on your site?

  13. question about making the buttermilk, If you use almond milk, do you still add the lemon juice?

    1. Yes, Penny, you can add either the lemon juice or white vinegar to almond milk just like you would for whole milk. Hope you enjoy!

    1. Brunella, there are so many times I make my own buttermilk when I need it. Thanks.

    1. You can use yogurt to substitute for buttermilk, Paula. As I state in my post, you can substitute 1 cup plain yogurt for 1 cup buttermilk. If you substitute with plain Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup Greek yogurt plus 1/4 cup milk equals one cup of buttermilk.