This homemade buttermilk substitute comes together in 5 minutes and requires only 2 ingredients. Skip the grocery store and make your own!
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve started pulling out the ingredients for a recipe and realized that I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand. It’s just not something that is regularly in our fridge.
Instead of bribing Eric to make a quick run to our local market or placing an Instacart order, I typically just skip both of those and make a quick and easy buttermilk substitute at home.
Buttermilk is an ingredient that I only pick up from the grocery store if I know I’ll be using most of it, which usually means I’m planning to make multiple recipes that call for it.
If it’s a recipe that requires just a bit of buttermilk, I skip buying the two quart container, and just make a homemade buttermilk substitute to save a few bucks and not be wasteful.
Because let’s be real, I’m definitely not going to be dunking my favorite chocolate chip cookies into an ice cold glass of buttermilk.
In general, I shy away from ingredient substitutions when it comes to baking. Sometimes they can definitely affect the finished product.
However, I’ve used a buttermilk substitute for years in countless recipes without any issues.
From the best chocolate cake, and moist banana cake to Texas sheet cake, this homemade buttermilk substitute works like a charm.
Buttermilk is definitely an ingredient you don’t want to omit. Creamy and tangy, it brings beautiful flavor and tenderness to sweet and savory recipes.
The acidity of the buttermilk also reacts with the baking powder or baking soda, leaving a delicious and delightfully light texture.
Buttermilk can be used in biscuits, cakes, pancakes, fried chicken, waffles, salad dressings, quick breads, and countless other delicious recipes.
If you find you don’t have buttermilk on hand, don’t fret. Before you grab your wallet and jump into the car for a grocery store run, you probably have everything you need in your kitchen right now to make a buttermilk substitute.
And the great news is, once you know how to make buttermilk, you’ll have your buttermilk substitute in a fraction of the time it would take you to go to and from the store.
SUBSTITUTE FOR BUTTERMILK IN BAKING
All you need to make a substitute for buttermilk in baking recipes is milk and white vinegar, or lemon juice. I typically opt for 2% or whole milk and fresh lemon juice, but bottled will also do the trick.
Measure one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup.
Add in a scant cup of milk and fill to the 1 cup measurement line.
Stir the mixture together and let sit for 5 minutes.
HOW TO SUBSTITUTE BUTTERMILK
Once the buttermilk and vinegar (or lemon juice) mixture has rested for 5 minutes, the milk will have thickened and curdled slightly.
That means it worked! You can now use your buttermilk substitute 1-for-1 in your favorite baking recipes. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of buttermilk, use 1 cup of buttermilk substitute, ½ cup for ½ cup and so on.
Can you freeze buttermilk?
Yes! You definitely can. My problem is that I end up leaving it in the fridge too long and by the time I remember to freeze it, it’s gone bad.
As one of my readers pointed out in the comment section below, you can freeze buttermilk in ice cube trays.
The easiest way to do this is to measure 1-2 tablespoons (depending on the size of your ice cube trays) of buttermilk into each ice cube well. Freeze the buttermilk in the trays. Pop the frozen cubes into a freezer bag and place them back into the freezer.
Just be sure to make a note on the bag to reference later. For example, each cube = 1 tablespoon, so you know how much to take out for each recipe.
When you’re ready to bake, you can let the buttermilk cubes defrost in the fridge, or melt them on the lowest power setting in your microwave.
And there you have it, a homemade buttermilk substitute! Add it to the recipe exactly as the recipe reads in the exact amount the recipe calls for.
Try this homemade buttermilk substitute in my raspberry lemon cupcakes, or add it to my red velvet cupcakes for a moist and fantastic flavor and texture.
No need to panic if you don’t have buttermilk in your kitchen. With two basic ingredients, you can make a homemade buttermilk substitute for any recipe.
Thursday 7th of July 2022
Hey! I just wanted to know if it is possible to make this substitute with plant based milk (soy milk) instead of whole milk, as it is the only one I have home right now, thanks in advance! <3
Monday 18th of July 2022
Hi there – Yes, it will work, although it won't "curdle" in the same way that dairy milk will. But the recipe should still turn out! Happy baking – Jamie
Saturday 4th of June 2022
This is kind of a reverse question lol. I have a family vanilla cake recipe that calls for 1cup of milk and 4.5 teaspoons of lemon juice (basically you put all the wet ingredients together). Would there be any reason I couldn’t replace the milk and lemon juice for buttermilk ? Or would you suggest adding a little extra lemon juice to keep the ratio? Mainly the sponge has too much of a lemon taste (while delicious) I was wanting a more vanilla forward taste. Or would it be better to just replace the lemon juice with like a white vinegar that has a more neutral flavor? Thank you!!
Wednesday 8th of June 2022
@Jamie, great! Thank you! I’ll let you know
Wednesday 8th of June 2022
Hi AJ – Without seeing the whole recipe I can't say for sure, but since you are looking to cut down on the lemon flavor in the recipe, I think you could certainly try replacing the milk with buttermilk. You may need to add an extra splash to compensate for the 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice you're cutting out, but you may be ok. If you give it a try, I'd love to know how it goes! Happy baking - Jamie
Sunday 29th of May 2022
So simple, thank you. This made a great marinade for my chicken thighs. I added onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and let them marinade for 3 hours. Delicous!
Tuesday 31st of May 2022
Sounds delicious! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback! Happy baking - Jamie
Friday 27th of May 2022
Hello! How long will this keep, if you do not use the full cup?
Tuesday 31st of May 2022
Hi Jenni – I honestly have never bothered to hang onto it, but it should last a couple of days in the fridge. Happy baking! Jamie
Sunday 17th of April 2022
I need 3/4 cup buttermilk how much vinegar and milk do I use
Friday 8th of July 2022
@Emmanuel, Use 2 1/4 tsp vinegar per 3/4 c of milk.
Monday 18th of April 2022
Hi there – It's honestly easiest to make 1 cup and then measure out what you need from that. Hope this helps. Happy baking! -Jamie