14 Best Substitutes for Buttermilk for Your Cooking!

Best Substitutes for Buttermilk
20 min reading time

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a recipe without buttermilk, or are looking for an alternative to dairy? Don’t worry, there are many substitutes for buttermilk that still capture the same taste and texture. Whether you have dietary restrictions or just want something different, this blog post will share some of our favorite substitutions for traditional buttermilk — so keep reading to learn more!

What is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a cultured dairy product made with milk that has been soured naturally by the addition of lactic acid bacteria. This process causes the milk to become thicker, more acidic, and tangier in flavor than regular or sweet milk. Buttermilk is often used as an ingredient in baking and cooking, due to its distinct flavor. It can also be a refreshing drink on its own.

In some parts of Europe and North America, buttermilk specifically refers to the liquid left behind after churning butter from cream; however, this usage is not common elsewhere in the world. The modern version of buttermilk found at grocery stores nowadays is made through culturing pasteurized skim milk with two specific strains of lactic acid bacteria: Lactococcus lactis subsp cremoris and Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp cremoris. These two bacteria produce distinct flavors that give buttermilk its unique taste — a mild sourness without being too sharp or overwhelming — as well as help thicken it up so it’s not watery like regular skimmed milk tend to be.

The fermentation process used to make buttermilk results in a few beneficial properties for our health: it helps increase levels of calcium absorption which helps strengthen bones; it contains probiotics which help improve digestion; and compared to other dairy products like yogurt or cheese, it generally has lower levels of fat — plus more protein per serving than ordinary cow’s milk! It can also be great for people who are lactose intolerant since most (but not all) lactose gets converted into lactic acid during fermentation making buttermilk easier to digest than other dairy offerings like whole-milk yogurt where there’s still some undigested sugar present. That said – those with severe forms of lactose intolerance should still use discretion when choosing whether consuming such dairy products will have any adverse effects on their health – just as they would do regardless of any type/brand/variety etc.

All these benefits show why people around the world love using this fermented wonder ingredient!

Uses of Buttermilk

  • Buttermilk has been used for centuries in the culinary world. It’s a slightly acidic, creamy liquid similar to plain yogurt but with more lactic acid for a tart taste. It adds flavor to recipes and also serves a range of potential health benefits.
  • In cooking, buttermilk can be substituted for milk or cream in many recipes without substantially changing the end result. Even when just replacing some of the amount called for in the original recipe, it can lend its tart flavor throughout. This makes it particularly useful in baking biscuits, scones and pancakes with an enhanced tangy taste compared to traditional versions.
  • Buttermilk can also be used as a marinade because its acidity helps tenderize meats like chicken so they cook up more juicy and flavorful after grilling or frying.
  • Besides being tasty and versatile in food preparation, buttermilk is rich in beneficial bacteria known as probiotics which have been linked to improved digestion, more regular bowel movements and reduced risk of digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

14 Best Substitutes of Buttermilk

For those who love to bake or cook, buttermilk is a common ingredient in many recipes. However, sometimes we find ourselves without this ingredient in our pantry. Don’t worry though, because there are many substitutes that you can use to achieve the same tangy and acidic flavor of buttermilk. From vinegar and lemon juice to yogurt and sour cream, there are 14 best substitutes for buttermilk that can work wonders in your recipe.

So don’t let the lack of buttermilk hold you back from creating delicious meals, and explore these substitutes to enhance your culinary creations.

Dairy-Based Substitutes for Buttermilk

There are plenty of dairy-based substitutes for buttermilk. One popular option is to use milk mixed with lemon juice or vinegar, which creates a similar tangy flavor. Another substitute is sour cream or plain yogurt thinned out with some milk. These options not only work well in baking recipes but also make a delicious addition to savory dishes like ranch dressing or mashed potatoes.

So, try out these substitutes and discover new flavors.

1. Milk and Vinegar

Milk and vinegar are often used as a substitute for buttermilk because it has a similar texture, tanginess, and consistency. The key to making this combination work is adding the right amount of acidity: milk and vinegar should be mixed in equal parts.

When using this dairy-free alternative to traditional buttermilk, add one tablespoon each of white or apple cider vinegar and room temperature non-dairy milk per cup needed.

The acidic reaction between milk and vinegar can also be useful if you’re looking to create a more authentic sour cream flavor (such as in dips).

Overall, using milk and vinegar as a substitute for buttermilk can save time and money while still delivering great results without any animal products. It’s an easy way to veganize your favorite recipes while still maintaining delicious flavor!

2. Milk and lemon juice

Milk and lemon juice can be used as substitutes for buttermilk. Many people use this substitution in baking recipes because it is an inexpensive, pantry-staple item to have on hand when buttermilk is not available.

The basic recipe for a quick substitute for buttermilk is to mix 1 cup of regular milk with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar. Let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes before using it as a substitution in your recipe. The amount of time you let the mixture stand will depend on how sour you want your milk substitute to be; the longer you wait, the more acidic taste your result will have.

If you’re looking for an even richer tasting alternative then try combining 2 cups whole milk (or other varieties if necessary) with 2 tablespoons butter melted together over low heat until slight boiling point has been reached – then add 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice into the mixture & let rest without stirring at all until ready to use – this makes an excellent creamier version very similar in flavour & texture profile compared against traditional buttermilks!

3. Milk and cream of tartar

Milk and cream of tartar is one option for replicating the effects of buttermilk without having to buy specialized ingredients. To use this substitute, mix ¾ cup of milk with 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar—this combination will approximate the acidity level found in 2 cups of low-fat buttermilk. Stir until well combined before adding to recipes instead of using regular milk or water as your liquid ingredient. You could also add an additional ½ teaspoon of baking soda if you’re looking for a more accurate replacement for buttermilk’s acidic properties when making baked goods such as pancakes or scones.

By experimenting with different combinations depending on your recipe, you can easily make both sweet and savoury dishes using milk and cream of tartar alone – no need to pick up special ingredients at the store!

4. Lactose-Free Milk And Acid

For those who can’t consume traditional buttermilk for dietary reasons, lactose-free milk and acid are often used as substitutes. When using this substitute, you’ll be making what is known as ‘sour milk’ or ‘quick buttermilk’.

To make sour milk, mix together 1 cup of your chosen type of lactose-free milk (such as almond or soy) with 1 tablespoon of either white vinegar or lemon juice. Allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes before use in order to create that signature tangy flavor and fuller body similar to traditional buttermilk.

This process works because adding an acid like vinegar or lemon juice alters the pH balance of the base liquid, creating an acidic environment similar to traditional buttermilk—thus resulting in a great substitute!

5. Sour Cream And Water Or Milk

Sour cream can be one option to replace buttermilk as a thickening agent in recipes that require it. Sour cream has the same level of acidity as buttermilk and will not change the flavor of your recipe drastically. When using sour cream as a replacement for buttermilk, you’ll need to use equal parts sour cream to substitute in place of one cup of buttermilk. By adding one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar per cup of water you can create a fake “buttery” flavor while still achieving desired texture results from the sour cream substitution needed for certain recipes like cheesecakes or pumpkin pies

The second option is more suited for dipping sauces than baking needs: mix together 1 part whole milk with 1 part water will help maintain some richness yet thin enough consistency (similar to homemade creamy ranch) while also creating that tartness associated with buttermilk –an alternative if you don’t have any canned/frozen versions on hand). This mixture should work well in replacing store-bought varieties without negatively affecting taste or texture too much!

6. Plain Yogurt And Water Or Milk

Yogurt contains lactic acid which reacts with baking soda to create those lovely air pockets in a cake that makes it rise and become fluffy. Milk also has some lactic acid so it can react similarly to yogurt.

For a substitution, use 1 cup of plain yogurt or 1 cup of milk combined with one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar per each cup called for in the recipe. This will create an acidic environment similar to that found in buttermilk, without all the added fat and calories found there. If you’re substituting with plain yogurt, whisk together a cup of non-fat Greek-style yogurt (or regular low-fat) along with 2 tablespoons warm water until smooth; then add this mixture into your recipe as “buttermilk.” You can also stir together 1/2 cup sour cream plus 1/2 skim milk if desired instead of using either water or milk separately.

7. Plain Kefir

Kefir is a fermented dairy beverage, produced by culturing cow’s milk or coconut water with “kefir grains” (a combination of bacteria and yeast). The end result is a drink that’s tart and tangy in flavor, with a bit of effervescence from the fermentation process.

Kefir has been used as an ingredient in many dishes around the world for centuries, and replacing buttermilk with plain kefir is becoming increasingly popular. Compared to standard buttermilk varieties, plain kefir offers more beneficial bacteria, which can provide health benefits such as improved digestion and immune system support.

When using plain kefir as a substitute for buttermilk in recipes calling for baking powder or baking soda baking powder/baking soda should be decreased by 1/4 teaspoon per cup of liquid ingredients used (or else your baked goods may come out too dense). Additionally when substituting plain kefir one must acknowledge that the texture of the finished product will be different than if you had used regular buttermilk – so experiment until you find ratios that work best for you!

8. Buttermilk Powder And Water

The best substitute for buttermilk is to mix equal parts of non-fat dry milk powder with water.

The ratio here is 1 cup (8 ounces) of buttermilk powder for every 1 cup of cold water added. You can use skimmed or low-fat dry milk and just add enough cold water to make the proper amount needed for the recipe. Stir this mixture until it’s blended without any visible clumps remaining in your solution then let it sit for 5 minutes prior to using it in the recipe exactly like you would regular buttermilk.

Dairy-Free, Vegan Substitutes

There are a variety of dairy-free and vegan options available. For instance, you could use almond milk mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice to create a tangy buttermilk substitute. Another choice is coconut milk combined with apple cider vinegar for a similar effect. So, check out this list of various dairy-free vegan substitutes.

Soy-Based Options

9. Unsweetened Soy Milk And Acid

While a beloved ingredient for its tangy flavor and tenderizing properties, unsweetened soy milk and acid can easily step in as substitutes. These vegan options are great for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, and they can be used in recipes from pancakes to biscuits. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or just starting out, don’t be afraid to venture beyond the traditional ingredients and try something new. You may just be surprised by the delicious results!

10. Vegan sour cream and water

One of the best replacements for buttermilk is vegan sour cream and water. Not only is this option easy to make, but it’s also budget-friendly. Plus, it’s a healthier choice that won’t compromise the taste or texture of your favorite dishes. Whether you’re baking scones, making pancakes, or whipping up a savory dressing, vegan sour cream and water can do the trick. Give it a try and you might not go back to buttermilk again!

11. Tofu, water, and acid

Tofu can provide the necessary acidity and creaminess that buttermilk lends to a recipe. Combine it with water and a bit of lemon juice or vinegar and you’ve got yourself a perfectly suitable alternative. Not a fan of tofu? Simply mix vinegar or lemon juice with regular milk or water and you’ll achieve a similar effect.

Low-Carb, Paleo-Friendly Options

12. Unsweetened coconut milk and acid

Coconut milk is creamy and delicious, and when paired with a touch of acid, it can make an excellent alternative to buttermilk. The acid will create a tenderizing effect similar to buttermilk and taste tangy, both of which can help replicate and enhance the flavors of your baked goods.

When it comes to savory dishes like fried chicken where buttermilk is usually used as a marinade, swapping out similar amounts of unsweetened coconut milk can actually enhance flavor because its subtle sweetness and slight nutty taste pairs so well with herbs like rosemary or thyme which often tend to feature in these types of recipes anyway! You’ll find that after about 4 hours of marinating time, this substitution will yield an equally tender result regardless!

13. Unsweetened almond milk and acid

You can also substitute unsweetened almond milk for buttermilk in baking recipes. The key difference is in the thickness of the liquid, as almond milk is thin and runny when it comes to baking whereas buttermilk is thicker. Although this may seem like a significant change, the substitution can be done without significantly altering the results if done properly.

14. Unsweetened cashew milk and acid

Cashew milk is plant-based milk made from pureed cashews that provide a creamy texture. Because it’s low in sugar, it makes an excellent substitute for buttermilk in savory dishes like pancakes, muffins and scones. It won’t produce the same thick consistency as traditional buttermilk, so you may need to add either cornstarch or arrowroot powder to thicken the batter.

How to Make Homemade Buttermilk Substitute?

Making a homemade buttermilk substitute is easier than you might think! All it really takes is a few simple ingredients, and you can have delicious, thick and creamy buttermilk in just minutes!

To make the perfect homemade buttermilk substitute all you need is 1 cup of whole milk (or any kind of milk that doesn’t contain fat substitutes) plus 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Pour the vinegar or lemon juice into the cup of milk and stir them together until combined. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature, during which time it will thicken up and curdle slightly as lactic acid causes small curds to form. This results in a thicker consistency that’s still quite liquid – ideal for baking recipes where traditional buttermilk would be used.

You can also use your homemade Buttermilk Substitute in other recipes that call for dairy products such as cheese sauces, macaroni salad or even smoothies with yogurt. The tanginess from the acidic ingredient gives dishes an extra layer of flavor which can lend itself well to many dishes – especially baked goods like pancakes, muffins & cakes! Remember though if using this substitute instead of real Buttermilk – buy organic!!

Using this method saves time by not having to take a trip to the store & since you’re making your own beloved condiment at home you know exactly what goes in and how safe it is for consumption… Enjoy!!

How Can I Test the Buttermilk Substitutes?

One of the best ways to test buttermilk substitutes is to use a method called the “Bake It Test”. This method is simple and efficient, and it can help you determine which substitute will work best for your recipes.

First, collect three bowls or containers and mix together equal parts of each buttermilk substitute that you are testing. If possible, try to find one cup measures for easy mixing. After they have been mixed well together, fill four muffin tins with each batch (two batches if only two substitutes are being compared). Before baking them in the oven at 375°F/190°C preheat them first so that all of the tins bake evenly. Bake them for 25 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top.

After they have been baked take out one muffin from each tin as a control sample then cut open one from each batch and compare their texture, taste, color etc. Take notes on all desired characteristics carefully comparing both physical properties such as appearance (color) and texture (crumb) as well as sensory attributes like flavor and aroma. Finally, make sure to think about how much moisture was absorbed by the batter while baking since this also affects final results in some ways too!

Testing different types of buttermilk substitutes with this technique allows you to determine which one works better in your recipe before committing yourself to a long-time utilization of any particular kind of substitution ingredients. So don’t forget – “Bake It Test”!

Do Buttermilk Substitutes Work in Baking?

Baking is a precise art that relies heavily on precise measurements and ingredients. But when you’re out of buttermilk and your recipe calls for it, Are buttermilk substitutes a viable option? The answer is yes!

There are several substitutes for buttermilk that can work well in baking, including milk and vinegar, plain yogurt, sour cream, or even lemon juice. Each substitute offers a unique flavor profile and texture, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits the desired final product. With the right substitution and proper measurements, there’s no reason your baked goods won’t turn out just as delicious as if you’d used buttermilk.

How Buttermilk Substitutes Should Be Stored?

You may be faced with a problem of how to store these substitutes for buttermilk. The good news is that your buttermilk substitute will last as long as regular buttermilk, thanks to acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice. However, it is still important to store it properly to make it last even longer.

The best way to store your homemade buttermilk substitute is in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This will keep it fresh for at least a week, and even up to two weeks.

If you want to keep it for even longer, try freezing it in ice cube trays and then transferring the frozen cubes to a freezer-safe bag or container.

Once you learn how to store your buttermilk substitute, it becomes an easy and convenient ingredient to always have on hand in your kitchen.


Buttermilk is a delicious dairy product commonly used for baking and cooking. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to find a tasty alternative if you don’t have any buttermilk on hand. From dairy-based options like full-fat yogurt and sour cream to dairy-free alternatives such as almond milk and coconut milk, the possibilities are nearly endless. Be careful when adding one of these ingredients to your recipe though – it might require slight adjustments according to what type of replacement have used. Plus, if you do manage to find buttermilk, you can even freeze it for later use!

Now with this knowledge under your belt, get cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is buttermilk similar to regular milk?

Buttermilk may sound like the healthier alternative to regular milk due to its name, but it is actually quite different. Unlike regular milk, buttermilk is more acidic and has a sour taste due to the presence of lactic acid bacteria. Additionally, buttermilk contains fewer calories and less fat than regular milk, which may make it a healthier option for some individuals.

Can you freeze buttermilk?

If you happen to have leftover buttermilk and don’t want to waste it, you may be wondering whether you can freeze it for future use. Fortunately, the answer is yes – you can freeze buttermilk!

Freezing buttermilk is an easy way to extend its shelf life and have it on hand for whenever you need it. However, it’s important to note that the texture of the frozen buttermilk may change once thawed. It may become more grainy or separated, but its flavor will remain the same.

To freeze buttermilk, simply pour it into an airtight container and store it in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and give it a good shake or stir before incorporating it into your recipe.

How long can I store my buttermilk to keep it good?

Typically, buttermilk can last between one to two weeks when stored properly in the refrigerator. It’s crucial to check the expiration date on the label before purchasing buttermilk and also to store it in an airtight container in the fridge.

Can I use buttermilk (or this buttermilk substitute) in any recipe that required milk?

The short answer is yes but with some caveats. Buttermilk has a thicker texture and tangier flavor than regular milk, so using it will alter the taste and texture of your dish. Some recipes that rely heavily on the flavor and properties of milk, like custard or creamy pasta dishes, may not be the best candidates for a substitution. However, if you’re baking bread or whipping up a batch of pancakes, using buttermilk can add a rich depth of flavor and a fluffy texture to your finished product.

Which is better milk or buttermilk?

Milk and buttermilk are both popular dairy products that are used in various recipes. When it comes to nutrition, it’s important to note that both types of milk provide essential vitamins and minerals, but buttermilk is a better source of calcium and vitamin D. However, milk is a good source of protein and is often utilized as a dietary supplement by athletes and bodybuilders. Ultimately, the choice between milk and buttermilk comes down to personal preference and dietary needs.

Can I use water as a substitute for buttermilk?

You can use water as a substitute, but it will slightly alter the recipe. If you are in a pinch and need to use water, you can add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to every 1 cup of water to achieve similar results. Additionally, using water instead of buttermilk may result in a less tender and moist finished product.

How much buttermilk contains water?

The amount of water in homemade buttermilk might vary based on how long it was fermented and the type of milk used, while commercial buttermilk usually contains about 88% water.

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