How to Make a Buttermilk Substitute 5 Ways

Updated: Aug. 13, 2023

No buttermilk? No problem! Get cooking with an easy buttermilk substitute or replacement.

If a recipe calls for buttermilk, it’s a must-include ingredient. You can’t have buttermilk pancakes without buttermilk, after all! While we love how delicious it makes our bakes, we’ve all run into recipes that need buttermilk and realized we don’t have any in the fridge. Luckily, there’s always a buttermilk substitute you can use in its place. Here are some standbys.

How to Make a Buttermilk Replacement

Milk + Lemon Juice or Vinegar

making a buttermilk substitute with lemon and milkTaste of Home

This stellar way to make buttermilk at home is our all-time favorite. For each cup of buttermilk needed, use 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes. If you’re out of milk, these are the best milk substitutes.

Cream of Tartar + Milk

In the event you’re caught without lemon juice or vinegar, use this buttermilk substitute. For 1 cup buttermilk in baked recipes, use 1 cup milk plus 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar.


Healthy breakfast with Fresh greek yogurt on backgroundMiki1988/Getty Images

Yogurt is great for baking and all your applications. Substitute an equal amount of plain yogurt for the buttermilk needed. If using thick yogurt, like Greek yogurt, thin it with some water and measure out a cup.

Sour Cream

Bowl of smooth creamvikif/Getty Images

Yes, you can substitute sour cream! Thin it with milk or water to get the right consistency. For each cup of buttermilk needed, use 3/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup liquid.

Editor’s Tip: Sour cream has a higher fat content, so this will result in richer-tasting foods. Use this in dips and dressings for a delicious taste.

Dairy-Free Buttermilk

If you need a dairy-free version, try this: Combine 3/4 cup plain or vanilla almond milk yogurt, 1/4 cup almond milk and 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar. Let stand for 5–10 minutes before using in any recipe that calls for 1 cup buttermilk.

Check out even more genius baking substitutes.


Tips for Making a Buttermilk Substitute

When baking, can I just use milk instead of buttermilk?

Yes, but it will make a difference in the finished recipe. Buttermilk brings a pleasant tang to baked goods like buttermilk pound cakes, breads, buttermilk biscuits and other treats while adding very little fat. Like yogurt and sour cream, this acidic ingredient also helps tenderize gluten, giving baked goods a softer texture and more body. Plus, it helps quick breads rise.

What is most similar to buttermilk?

The milk and lemon juice buttermilk substitute is most similar to the store-bought version. But each of these substitutes will be a good stand-in for any recipe that calls for buttermilk.

What is a replacement for 1/2 cup buttermilk?

If your recipe only calls for half a cup of buttermilk, follow the same guide for the milk and lemon juice substitute but adjust the measurements. You’ll need 1/2 tablespoon distilled vinegar or lemon juice and then milk for the remainder of the 1/2 cup.

Ways to Use Your Buttermilk (or Buttermilk Substitute)
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