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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. //
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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 ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup water + ¼ 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 //

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!

4.80 from 20 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 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 ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup water + ¼ 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. 

Easy and perfect! Thank you, you saved the day 🙃

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Robyn Stone

Robyn Stone is a wife, mom, blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. Welcome to Add a Pinch where I share thousands of delicious, tested and perfected easy recipes that the whole family will love.

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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. 5 stars
      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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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.

    1. Gentora, the homemade buttermilk should last in the refrigerator about 2 weeks if it in a tightly sealed container.

    1. Irene, you can use fat free or 2% milk, if you prefer. Be sure to allow it to sit about 10 minutes until it has thickened before you use.

    2. 5 stars
      I’ll be changing my milk for buttermilk for now on when it call for it! So easy! Added it to your chocolate cake recipe and loved it!

    3. I’m so happy this worked well for you, Ashley. Now, you don’t have to keep buttermilk on hand.

  14. Can I use sour cream or yogurt in lieu of buttermilk? I’m planning to make vanilla cake with your recipe.

    1. Gabie, I haven’t made the vanilla cake with sour cream or yogurt but they are good substitutes for buttermilk.

  15. Made this & it works perfectly! With groceries being so high, it saved me some money at the grocery, gas to get there & I had the ingredients on hand! A win win for me! Thank you so much! 🙂

  16. 5 stars
    All your recipes that I’ve tried have been easy and EXCELLENT!! I used to buy buttermilk, but haven’t been since I’ve needed to really watch expenses. Now I can make it so easily and cheaply! Thanks so much!