How To Make Buttermilk Substitutes: 3 Easy Ways

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Recipes.net Team Published: March 10, 2021 Modified: September 22, 2021

A lot of delicious recipes call for buttermilk. In most recipes, we would only need a cup of it but end up buying a whole gallon. Then you’ll start to worry about your gallon of buttermilk being wasted if you don’t use the rest of it anytime soon. What if we tell you that you can actually make buttermilk at home?

You can now make those recipes you set aside because you didn’t have buttermilk at that moment. Make substitutes for it in under 5 minutes with only 2 ingredients that you might already have sitting in your fridge or cupboards. We’ll teach you how to make buttermilk and the easiest homemade buttermilk substitutes.

You can now make your own batter, frosting or icing, and marinade using buttermilk. After all, making food from scratch makes your dish healthier and tastes better. If you need more reasons to quit consuming instant food and avoid using ready-made ingredients in cooking, check out our article on why you should start eating real food. Now, back to buttermilk.

What is Buttermilk?

how to make 2-ingredient buttermilk, a glass of buttermilk served with baked cookies

It is called buttermilk simply because it is a valuable liquid product you can attain after the process of making butter. But to this date, there are now two ways to make it. One of them is via the traditional churning and the other is adding cultures to regular milk.

In terms of acidity, buttermilk is naturally acidic, unlike regular milk. It also has lower calories and fat content than milk. It is also higher in calcium and rich in potassium and Vitamin B12.

There are a plethora of ways you can use buttermilk, from tenderizing meat to make your baked goods rise. It also gives your dishes a slight tanginess, utterly improving the recipes that call for it. From fried chicken to biscuits, it just knows its way to bring better results to your cooking.

Types of Buttermilk 

If you’ve ever wondered about how to make real buttermilk, let’s talk about its two main types and how they differ from each other. 

The original version is called the churned buttermilk. It is the leftover liquid after churning butter from fermented cream. This type of buttermilk is the traditional way to make it.

On the other hand, cultured buttermilk is the modern type of it that we use today. It is made from mixing dairy cultures with regular milk. This is now widely commercialized, especially in the U.S.

What Does Buttermilk Taste Like?

Given its acidity, it gives off a sour and tangy taste with distinctive hints of creamy, buttery taste and aroma. Unlike regular milk with natural creaminess and sweetness. It is safe to drink buttermilk straight away, although it’s commonly used for cooking and baking.

How to Make Substitutes From Milk

7 homemade buttermilk substitutes using milk, vinegar, yogurt, cream of tartar, and lemon juice

You may already have these ingredients sitting inside your fridge or on your cupboard, so we suggest giving them a quick check. Just remember, that number one, you need milk (any kind will do, yes, you can even make vegan buttermilk!), and two, an acidic ingredient. 

Note that there are some substitutes that are perfect to use in making pastries and desserts, and another for making marinades. Don’t hesitate to try these out, as each of them only takes minutes to make, so you can easily whip them up whenever you need them.

Substitutes For Baking

buttermilk substitute for baking, buttermilk with baking ingredients on a table

If used in baking, buttermilk helps with keeping your baked goods moist and tender, especially for making fluffy buttermilk pancakes, muffins, and waffles. This also helps buttermilk biscuits become lighter and have a fuller consistency because it reacts well with baking leaveners, helping your pastries rise. We suggest enjoying your homemade pastries with a comforting cup of hot Jasmine tea

Here’s how to make homemade substitutes by combining milk with lemon juice, cream of tartar, or vinegar.

Milk and Lemon Juice

Ingredients:

1 scant cup milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Take 1 cup of preferred milk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  2. In a bowl, mix them and wait for it to thicken until it’s curd-like which happens in around 5 minutes.

Milk and Cream Of Tartar

Ingredients:

1 scant cup milk

½ tablespoon cream of tartar

Instructions:

  1. Take 1 scant cup of milk and ½ tablespoon of cream of tartar.
  2. Put them in a bowl and mix them well. Let sit for 5 whole minutes to thicken.

Milk and Vinegar

Although mixing milk and vinegar together curdles, blending them together does the trick to turn it into a smooth mixture. Remember that you can use regular, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar for this one. Here’s how to make a homemade substitute with vinegar:

Ingredients:

1 cup of milk

1 tablespoon of vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Get 1 cup of milk and mix it with 1 tablespoon of your preferred vinegar.
  2. Allow it to thicken for at least about 5 minutes.
  3. Using a small blender, mix it until it looks like milk again.

Substitutes for Marinades and Brines

buttermilk and spices for marinade, chicken fillet, and smoked bacon in a wooden table

Buttermilk is world-famous when it comes to cooking. The opportunities for using it in cooking are almost endless, from Buttermilk Panna Cottas to Southern Fried Chicken. When it comes to cooking meat, buttermilk is commonly used for marinating. It helps with tenderizing your meat as well as leaving it with more moisture even after it’s cooked.  

Want more cooking hacks? Learn different ways on how to reheat fried chicken until crispy to keep them nice and crunchy and enjoy them at their best.

Buttermilk also gives your dishes additional creaminess and slight tanginess when incorporated in dishes. Using buttermilk for baking takes advantage of the natural chemical reaction of buttermilk with leavening agents to make our pastries rise and become lighter or fluffier. In cooking, it’s all about the additional flavor that it gives.

Milk and Yogurt

Yogurt has a natural sour and tangy taste because of the active live bacteria in it. It also has a creamy texture that makes it perfect for a buttermilk substitute.

Ingredients:

¾ cup plain yogurt

¼ cup milk

Instructions:

  1. Take the plain yogurt and ¼ cup of milk.
  2. Whisk until completely combined and thick. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Milk and Sour Cream

Ingredients:

⅔ cup milk

 ⅓ cup sour cream.

Instructions:

  1. Get the milk and sour cream and mix them until evenly incorporated.

How to Make Dairy Free Buttermilk

dairy free buttermilk substitute, jar of buttermilk on a table with blueberry bread loaf

Good news to those who are lactose intolerant, there’s also a buttermilk substitute that’s perfect for you. Here’s how to make a vegan buttermilk substitute with the use of soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk.

Soy Milk and Lemon Juice

Ingredients:

1 cup soy milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Pour the soy milk into a container and add the freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  2. Let it sit for 2 to 5 minutes to let it curdle.
  3. Enjoy your vegan homemade substitute!

Instead of using soy milk, another non-dairy milk ingredient you can use is almond milk. Make your buttermilk substitute using almond milk by following the instructions below:

Almond Milk and Lemon Juice

Ingredients:

1 scant cup of almond milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Take the almond milk and mix the lemon juice along.
  2. Stir it up and let it sit for at least 3 minutes to thicken.

If you don’t have freshly squeezed lemon juice, you can use vinegar instead in a 1:1 ratio. This is guaranteed to work with both soy and almond milk. Also, remember that not all dairy free milk will curdle when you use lemon juice. Coconut milk, for example, will not react to the acidity of lemon.

Save some cash and gallons of store-bought buttermilk from spoilage and going to waste by trying out these easy 2-ingredient buttermilk substitutes.

Buttermilk Vs. Regular Milk

difference between buttermilk and regular milk

Milk and buttermilk may look alike but they’re completely different from each other. If your recipe calls for buttermilk, you cannot just use milk in its place. There’s always a reason why a recipe calls for buttermilk instead of milk. Their differences include:

Appearance

If you look at both from afar, you will not notice any difference at first. They’re both white, but one will seem to have a thicker consistency. Buttermilk is denser than regular milk or cow’s milk. Cultured buttermilk’s fermentation process is what makes it thick and curd-like. On the other hand, regular milk has a distinct thin consistency.

Process

The usual milk that is served on our tables is made of processing milk from cows or other mammals such as goats. Milk can also come in the forms of powdered, condensed, and evaporated. While on the other hand, buttermilk can only be attained by the churning of butter or mixing cultures with fermented milk.

How To Store Buttermilk

If you’re planning to make a whole batch of homemade buttermilk, you must know how to properly store it or your efforts will all go to waste.

After successfully making your homemade substitutes, take a clear container. It must be a transparent container, so you will be able to see the state of your product. Cover your container tightly and refrigerate. Always make sure to put it back in the fridge immediately after use.

How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

If unopened and frozen, buttermilk can last longer than the indicated expiration date. But initially, (opened or not) it can only last up to 14 days. We should keep it chilled and refrigerated at all times to avoid immediate spoilage. However, if you notice changes in your buttermilk’s appearance and smell, it’s wiser to get rid of it to avoid getting sick.

More Buttermilk Recipes To Try

Now that you’ve learned several ways to make buttermilk, you can try more recipes that include this ingredient. Here are some recipe suggestions you can try making with your newly learned homemade substitutes:

Peach Sherbet

peach sherbet

Whip up a fluffy and rich peach dessert with your homemade buttermilk. This light dessert can be prepared in under 25 minutes. It’s easy and scrumptious. It’s guaranteed that you will be making this again after the first try.

Recipe for Inspiration: Peach Sherbet

Copycat Culver’s Chicken Tenders

Copycat Culver's Chicken Tenders Recipe

Try out these delicious chicken pieces that taste just like Culver’s. It’s marinated in buttermilk, which is also a part of its batter, making them extra tender and flavorful. It’s the perfect snack to prepare for movie nights or for those midnight trips to the kitchen. Easily whip it up in under an hour. Especially now that you won’t have to worry about not having buttermilk around.

Recipe for Inspiration: Copycat Culver’s Chicken Tenders

Buttermilk Waffles

buttermilk-waffles-recipe

 

You can also make delicious and aromatic waffles with your homemade substitutes. Drizzle them with honey or maple syrup and pair them with a hot cup of joe, and start your morning right. Easily serve flavorful waffles and fluffy pancakes for breakfast, worry-free!

Recipe for Inspiration: Buttermilk Waffles

Making Homemade Buttermilk Substitutes Is a Lot Easier

Not only does it save time, but it saves money too. Buying a whole gallon of it without any solid plans on how you are going to consume it after that one cup you need will lead to waste. You can now worry less about trying out new palatable recipes that call for it by trying out these easy homemade substitutes that would come in handy.

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Recipes.net Team

We are a team of writers and recipe testers--chefs, culinary school graduates, and passionate food bloggers--who aim to produce easy recipes that everyone can make. We also cover articles that keep you informed on the latest trending recipes as well as detailed guides that will aid you in your cooking. No matter what you're looking for, be it a recipe to recreate or an article on the latest buying or cooking tips, Recipes.net team will have something just for you.

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