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How to Make Buttermilk

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You can learn how to make buttermilk from milk and lemon juice at home. This easy recipe will save you a trip to the grocery store.

glass jar filled with homemade buttermilk along with a napkin and lemons in the background

What is buttermilk? It is the leftover liquid from churning cream into butter.

But, who has time to churn their own butter, or even time to run to get the store bought version?

This is a tried and true substitute. I use it in a variety of recipes with no noticeable difference in quality.


Why this recipe works

  • The acid in the lemon juice gives the milk a tangy, creamy feeling similar to the real buttermilk.
  • This easy substitute only takes two common, cost-effective ingredients instead of purchasing expensive buttermilk.

This DIY buttermilk recipe is perfect for all of your baking needs. It’ll be our little secret that you didn’t use the real thing!


What you need

This buttermilk substitute is so quick and easy to make with kitchen basics. Let’s discuss just a few of the key ingredients:

Ingredients

This is a short overview of the ingredients I used and why I chose them. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post!

  • Whole milk: I prefer whole milk, but you could use any milk, including dairy-free, for this DIY buttermilk recipe.
  • Lemon juice or white vinegar: You will also need an acid to make the milk become sour. I recommend fresh lemon juice over bottled. I also prefer lemon over vinegar for this recipe.

How to make buttermilk from milk

1. Start with lemon juice

Fresh squeezed lemon juice works wonders to curdle the milk for this buttermilk substitute.

a tablespoon of lemon juice being poured into a glass measuring cup with lemons and napkin in background
  1. Add the 1 tablespoon lemon juice to a 1 cup liquid measuring cup.

2. Add milk

You’ll add the milk into the lemon juice.

a glass measuring cup being filling with milk along with lemons and napkin in background
  1. You’ll pour enough milk into the cup to equal 1 full cup.

3. Mix and let sit

The recipe calls for mixing the ingredients. Let the mixture sit until it appears curdled.

spoon stirring buttermilk substitute in glass measuring cup with lemons and napkin in background
  1. Stir the ingredients well.
  2. Let sit for about 5 minutes
  3. The buttermilk substitute is ready for use when it looks curdled.
  4. Use immediately in your recipe for best results.

Frequently asked questions

Can you freeze buttermilk?

Yes! I have an entire post on how to freeze buttermilk. I highly suggest reading it.

However, the homemade variety is best the day it is made.

How long does the homemade buttermilk last?

Unfortunately, this substitute won’t last as long as the real thing. Use it within 4 days.

glass measuring cup filled with homemade buttermilk along with lemons and napkin in background

Other methods for substituting buttermilk

  • Cream of tartar: Mix 1 ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar into 1 cup whole milk for every 1 cup needed.
  • Yogurt: Use ¾ cup plain yogurt plus ¼ cup water for every 1 cup needed.
  • Sour cream: Use ¾ cup sour cream plus ¼ cup water for every 1 cup needed.
  • Kefir: Use an equal amount of kefir to replace it in any recipe.

Tasty ways to use it

I find that this substitute works well in almost any recipe. These are some of my favorites to use it in.

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glass jar filled with homemade buttermilk along with a napkin and lemons in the background

How to Make Buttermilk

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Learning how to make buttermilk at home will save you time and money! It's so quick and easy. You need just 2 simple ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or distilled white vinegar
  • 1 scant cup milk

Instructions

  1. Add the lemon juice or vinegar to a 1 cup liquid measuring cup.
  2. Pour enough whole milk into the cup to equal 1 full cup.
  3. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes. The mixture is ready to use once it looks curdled.
  4. Use immediately in your recipe.

Notes

Lemon juice: I prefer to use fresh lemon juice as it is milder than bottled lemon juice. It's also my preference over vinegar.

If you don't have lemon juice or vinegar, you can mix 1 ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar into 1 cup milk. Cream of tartar is an acid and will work the same way.

Milk: Any milk, including dairy-free, will work for this DIY buttermilk recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 131mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 9g

* Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy by an online nutrition calculator and is not guaranteed to be accurate. Always seek advice from a nutritionist or medical professional.

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