10 best Substitutes for Buttermilk

Buttermilk Substitute

Although buttermilk was traditionally a by product of butter production, it is now produced by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk, which causes fermentation.

Recipes for biscuits, pancakes, waffles, muffins, and cakes frequently use it because of its tangy flavor and thicker viscosity than milk.

Buttermilk gives baked goods a light and moist texture. Its acidity activates baking soda in recipes, acting as a rising agent.

Nonetheless, many people do not have it on hand, while others avoid using it due to dietary concerns.

Surprisingly, you can manufacture buttermilk alternatives, either dairy-based or nondairy, with components you probably already have in your cupboard or refrigerator.

Here are 10 excellent replacements for buttermilk.

Dairy-based buttermilk buttermilk substitute

1. Milk and vinegar

When you add vinegar to milk, it becomes as acidic as buttermilk. Apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar are two types of vinegar that you can use. Distilled white vinegar has a more neutral taste.

Even though you can use any milk, if the recipe calls for a certain kind of buttermilk, like low-fat, it might be best to use a milk that is close.

Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar to a liquid measuring cup to make 1 cup (240 mL) of buttermilk replacement. After that, add milk until it reaches the 1-cup line (240 mL) and stir.

To measure the milk on its own, you’ll need a cup that is almost full, or “scant.”

Many sources say to let the mixture sit for 5–10 minutes before adding it to the recipe, but experts say you don’t need to do that.

2.  Milk and cream of tartar

Potassium bitartrate, which is another name for cream of tartar, is an acidic material that can be mixed with milk to make a buttermilk substitute.

The process of making wine leaves behind this fine white powder, which has a neutral taste.

Cream of tartar can be used instead of buttermilk. For every cup (240 mL) of milk, use 1 3/4 teaspoons (5 grams).

Cream of tartar tends to stick together when mixed into milk right away. Since this is the case, it is better to mix the cream of tartar with the dry ingredients first, then add the milk.

You can also mix the cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of milk by whisking it first, then adding it to the rest of the milk so that it doesn’t clump.

3. Lactose-free milk and acid

People who can’t handle lactose may be able to handle buttermilk because it has less of it than regular milk.

But if you can’t handle lactose at all, you can use lactose-free milk to make buttermilk instead, though it might taste a little sweet.

Just fill up a liquid measuring cup with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar or lemon juice. Then, add 240 mL of lactose-free milk to the 1-cup line and stir.

4.  Plain yogurt and water or milk

You can use plain yogurt instead of buttermilk because it has a similar sour, acidic taste and thick texture.

You can substitute plain yogurt for buttermilk cup for cup, but it may perform better if you thin the yogurt with water or milk. This is especially true for cake recipes that call for a thin batter.

Add 6 ounces (170 grams) of plain yogurt to 1/4 cup (60 mL) of water or milk and whisk until smooth. This will make 1 cup (240 mL) of buttermilk replacement.

5. Buttermilk powder and water

You can purchase dried buttermilk and follow the instructions on the package to transform it back into a liquid.

About 1/4 cup (30 grams) of dried buttermilk should yield 1 cup (240 mL) of buttermilk when mixed with 1 cup (240 mL) of water.

When making with powdered buttermilk, it might be best to mix it with the dry ingredients first, then add the water when you’d normally add buttermilk.

6. Sour cream and water or milk

If you ferment cream with lactic acid bacteria, you get sour cream. It tastes sour, like buttermilk.

But sour cream is thicker than buttermilk, so when you want to use it instead of buttermilk, you should mix it with water or milk first.

To use 3/4 cup (172 grams) of sour cream instead of 1 cup (240 mL) of buttermilk in a dish, mix it with 1/4 cup (60 mL) of water or milk and whisk it until it’s smooth.

 7. Plain kefir

Kefir is a soured milk drink that looks and tastes like buttermilk but doesn’t have any added flavors.

Plain kefir can be used in place of buttermilk in a cup. So, if your recipe calls for 240 mL of buttermilk, all you have to do is use 240 mL of kefir instead.

It’s true that kefir has more good bacteria and other germs than buttermilk, but heating it will kill many of them. 

Dairy-free substitutes

Soy-based options

These soy-based options are free of dairy and eggs. Follow these steps to make 1 cup (240 mL) of buttermilk substitute:

8. Unsweetened soy milk and acid.

Measure out 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar or lemon juice. Fill the measuring cup up to the 1-cup mark with soy milk (240 mL). You can also use 1 3/4 teaspoons (5 grams) of cream of tartar instead of the acid.

9. Vegan sour cream and water.

Mix 1/2 cup (120 mL) of water with 1/2 cup (120 grams) of vegan sour cream. Change the amounts of water and sour cream depending on how thick you want the sauce to be.

10. Tofu, water, and acid. 

Put 1/4 cup (62 grams) of soft, silky tofu, 3/4 cup (160 mL) of water, and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar or lemon juice in a blender. Blend until smooth.

How to make a buttermilk substitute

Key components of a buttermilk alternative, whether including dairy or not, include acidity and a liquid that closely resembles buttermilk in flavor and content.

You can typically combine a tiny quantity of acid, such as lemon juice, with a liquid, such as dairy milk or soy milk. This mixture quickly curdles and is suitable for recipes requiring buttermilk; however, it may not be palatable when consumed alone.

The bottom line

Kefir is a soured milk drink that looks and tastes like buttermilk but doesn’t have any added flavors.

Plain kefir can be used in place of buttermilk in a cup. So, if your recipe calls for 240 mL of buttermilk, all you have to do is use 240 mL of kefir instead.

It’s true that kefir has more good bacteria and other germs than buttermilk, but heating it will kill many of them. 

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