Making a recipe that calls for buttermilk and don't have any on hand? Learn how to make an easy substitute with just two simple ingredients! All you need is some milk, plus lemon juice, lime juice or white vinegar. The best part is, it only takes 5 minutes!
I can't count the number of times that I've wanted to make a recipe that calls for buttermilk, but didn't have any in my fridge. In fact, I rarely ever buy it because my need is so sporadic. If you're currently dreading a trip to the grocery store to buy some yourself, or just don't want to buy a whole quart for a recipe that only calls for one cup, don't stress! Here's an easy substitute I often use that works like a charm.
Why use buttermilk in a recipe
Buttermilk has three main purposes when it comes to baking. First and foremost, when combined with baking soda, it helps baked goods rise. Baking soda needs to react with an acidic ingredient in order to do its job, and buttermilk is perfect for that! It also helps keep gluten-based baked goods tender by breaking down gluten strands (ideal for recipes like muffins and pancakes). Lastly, it adds a slightly tangy flavor to certain baked goods. This factor is more important in some recipes than others. For example, biscuits or scones often have a lighter flavor where the natural tanginess can really shine.
To make this recipe, you'll need two basic ingredients: milk + an acid.
Milk: Ideally, I would recommend using whole milk for this recipe since it will most closely resemble the thickness and consistency of real buttermilk, but any type of cow's milk will work. Depending on what you're planning to make, you may also be able to use a dairy-free milk substitute like almond milk or soy milk. If you do go this route, make sure you use a plain, unsweetened milk substitute. However, keep in mind that in some recipes, real dairy does work better.
Acid: You'll need one tablespoon of an acidic ingredient for each cup of buttermilk you plan to make. You have options here! Lemon juice or lime juice will work, as will white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Personally, I prefer using either lemon juice or white vinegar.
How to make a buttermilk substitute
It's easy! Just add your acid of choice to a measuring glass, and top with enough milk to reach the 1-cup mark.
Whisk it together and let it sit for at least 5 minutes before using. This will give the acid time to curdle the milk slightly (which truly sounds a little gross but is actual what we're looking for here).
Once you've made your buttermilk, you can store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it if you don't need to use it right away. It should be good for up to a couple weeks, depending on how fresh your milk was when you made it. Just give it a quick shake or stir when you're ready to use it!
Recipes to make with buttermilk
Here are a few of my favorite recipes that you can use this for:
Making a recipe that calls for buttermilk and don't have any on hand? Learn how to make an easy substitute with just two simple ingredients!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 cup buttermilk 1x
- Category: how-tos
- Cuisine: American
- 1 tablespoon white/apple cider vinegar OR lemon/lime juice
- scant 1 cup milk
- Combine ingredients: Pour vinegar or lemon/lime juice into a measuring cup. Add enough milk to reach the one cup line.
- Mix and let sit: Whisk together and let sit for at least 5 minutes before using. Use in place of one cup of buttermilk in a recipe.
This buttermilk substitute can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a couple weeks, depending on how fresh your milk is.
Nutrition facts are for buttermilk made with 2% milk.
Keywords: how to make buttermilk, buttermilk substitute, make buttermilk with lime juice, make buttermilk with lemon juice, make buttermilk with vinegar