7 Buttermilk Substitutes to Save You a Trip to the Store

One of the best ingredients to use to tenderize baked goods is buttermilk. It's acidic, smells kind of funky, and pours a bit thicker than regular milk, but is truly a miracle ingredient. It's basically sour milk that's not spoiled and perfectly fine to use in baking. Buttermilk moistens and softens baked goods and can also help with leavening once it reacts with baking powder or baking soda. I love to swap out regular milk for buttermilk in recipes because you can definitely taste the difference. But, let's face it, buttermilk is an ingredient that might not be in our refrigerators often. So, what do you do when you're in the middle of a recipe that calls for buttermilk? No need to panic or run to the grocery store.  Turns out there are plenty of buttermilk substitutes that work just fine for those delicious buttermilk biscuits or fluffy pancakes.

1. Milk and Lemon Juice or Vinegar

If you don't have a carton of buttermilk in the refrigerator, try making your own homemade buttermilk. To make one cup of buttermilk substitute, in a liquid measuring cup, pour in one cup of regular milk or low-fat milk and add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar (apple cider vinegar works as well). Stir the mixture and let it sit for about two minutes. You'll notice that the milk curdles, smells acidic and is ready to use in any baking recipe. You can easily increase the recipe if you need more buttermilk, just follow this ratio.

2. Dairy-Free Buttermilk Substitute  

If you do a lot of vegan baking, the method listed above works with non-dairy milk as well.  I've found the best results using soy milk or almond milk. For one cup of dairy-free buttermilk substitute, stir together non-dairy milk with one tablespoon fresh lemon juice or white vinegar and let sit for a few minutes.

3. Milk and Yogurt

Yogurt is naturally tangy and acidic and has similar qualities to buttermilk, it's just much thicker. Of course, you can replace buttermilk with just plain yogurt, but if you're making something with a thin batter, like chocolate cake or muffins, you'll want to thin down the yogurt. For one cup buttermilk substitute, mix together 3/4 cup plain yogurt and 1/4 cup milk.

4. Milk and Cream of Tartar 

Milk and cream of tartar make a wonderful buttermilk substitute. Cream of tartar is commonly used to stabilize meringues and has a neutral flavor. To make this substitute, use 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to 1 cup milk. The mixture tends to clump when you mix the ingredients together. To avoid this, try whisking the cream of tartar with two tablespoons of regular milk first, then add in the rest of the milk.

5. Sour Cream and Milk

With its tangy flavor, sour cream makes a suitable replacement for buttermilk. Like plain yogurt, sour cream is on the thicker side and should be thinned down with milk or water. For one cup buttermilk substitute, stir together 3/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup regular milk or water.

6. Plain Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that tastes similar to thin yogurt. It's acidic, has a tangy flavor and can be used on its own as a buttermilk substitute. For example, if your recipe calls for one cup buttermilk, simply substitute with one cup of kefir.

7. Buttermilk Powder and Water 

Buttermilk powder is a great product to buy if you like to use buttermilk, but don't want to worry about finishing a carton of fresh buttermilk. To make one cup buttermilk from buttermilk powder, combine 1/4 of cup buttermilk powder with 1 cup water and use.

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