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Buttermilk is an easy item to forget when you are making your grocery shopping list. Luckily, it’s also incredibly easy to make at home, and you already have the ingredients and tools.
Let’s learn how to make buttermilk and what to use it for!
How to Make Buttermilk
There comes a point in every homemaker’s kitchen career when she will inevitably forget something she needs for a recipe. This is why every good homemaker should be armed with the knowledge of good substitutions so there don’t have to be any last-minute trips to the grocery store.
Buttermilk is acidified milk. Originally, buttermilk was the leftover milk from making butter; on occasion, it was left to ferment. However, when a modern recipe calls for buttermilk, they are looking for an acidified version of milk, not the leftovers from making butter (unless you ferment it).
Traditional buttermilk is still good for many things (you can use it in the place of milk in most baking recipes), but keep in mind that it won’t have the same properties as “modern buttermilk,” which is what I’m going to show you how to make today.
To make true modern buttermilk, you must culture your milk to provide the acidity. Below, the “quick” method will provide the same results in a baked product in all your favorite buttermilk recipes.
Make Homemade Buttermilk in 10 Minutes
You can easily make buttermilk at home with just two ingredients:
- Pour 1 cup of whole milk into a measuring cup. Do not use skim milk.
- Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Stir to combine.
- Let sit for 10 minutes. The milk will curdle slightly, signaling it has turned into buttermilk.
- Use in baking recipes that call for buttermilk, just like you would use store-bought buttermilk.
Uses for Buttermilk
Buttermilk can be used in many different ways and in many different recipes. Here are are few things you might use it in.
Here is an additional list of Recipes to Use Buttermilk.
How to Make Buttermilk: Step by Step
What You Need:
- 1 cup of whole milk (not skim)
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice or Vinegar
In a small bowl, combine ingredients and stir to combine.
Let the ingredients rest for 10 minutes until the mixture curls and becomes thicker.
Use in a recipe as you would regular, store-bought buttermilk. Any leftover buttermilk can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
How to Freeze Buttermilk
You can easily freeze buttermilk just as you would freeze heavy cream, in cubes!
Pour any leftover buttermilk into a clean ice cube tray and place in the freezer until solid. Remove the cubes and store them in a freezer bag until you can use them in a recipe.
One standard-sized ice cube is roughly 2 tablespoons of liquid.
To thaw your buttermilk before using, place on the countertop in a bowl until thawed, thaw in the microwave, or place in a bowl in the fridge overnight to melt the cubes.
Alternatives to Buttermilk
If you do not want to make your own buttermilk or do not have any whole milk or lemon juice on hand, here are some other ways to create a buttermilk substitute for baking.
- Use an equal amount of sour cream
- Use an equal amount of plain yogurt
- Use an equal amount of kefir
- Use 1 cup of milk plus 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- Use a Buttermilk Powder mixed with water
Need to print this recipe for Homemade Buttermilk? Grab it below!
Learn how to make buttermilk at home with just a few simple ingredients you already have on hand!
- 1 cup whole milk not skim
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice or vinegar
In a small bowl, combine ingredients and stir to combine.
Let the ingredients rest for 10 minutes until the mixture begins to curdle and turn thicker.
Use in a recipe as you would store-bought buttermilk.
Recipes That Use Buttermilk
- Chocolate Buttermilk Bread
- Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
- Easy Cinnamon Coffee Cake
- Homemade Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix
- Buttermilk Cornbread
- Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake Recipe
- Recipes That Use Buttermilk
- The Best Easy Buttermilk Muffin Recipe
How to Make Vegan Buttermilk
Vegan or dairy-free buttermilk substitute is easy to make if you need to keep your recipe dairy-free.
Just replace the whole milk in the recipe above with a dairy-free alternative milk such as almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, or coconut milk.
Add the same amount of white vinegar or lemon juice and let it sit for 10 minutes to thicken before using it as your buttermilk substitute.
Dairy-Free Buttermilk Recipe
- 1 cup milk alternative
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine. Let it sit for 10 minutes before using in your recipe.
More Homemade Dairy Products
- Homemade Butter in a blender
- Homemade Yogurt(in the slow cooker and the dehydrator!)
- Homemade Yogurt Cheese
- Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Yes. Buttermilk is an acidified milk product. By adding acid to your milk you are creating the same type of buttermilk product that you find at the store.
Buttermilk does not curdle. It gets thicker as the acid reacts with the milk.
Your recipe may not have enough acid to interact with your rising agent (usually baking soda, possibly baking powder). The result could be a baked product that is too flat.
No. The liquid from making butter can be used to make what we typically know as buttermilk, but only after an acid is added or the milk is fermented.
What recipes do you use buttermilk in? Have you ever made homemade buttermilk?
Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple and frugal life on Little House Living since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.
This post on How to Make Buttermilk was published on Little House Living in August 2017. It has been updated as of September 2023.