An easy Buttermilk Substitute recipe and a guide for How to Make Buttermilk including dairy free and vegan buttermilk.

We’ve all been in the middle of making a recipe when we realized we didn’t have buttermilk on hand! Luckily, making your own buttermilk is so easy and only requires two simple ingredients.  If your looking for ways to use your buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute), try these perfect buttermilk pancakes, biscuits, or my favorite Hershey’s “perfectly chocolate” Chocolate Cake.

How to make buttermilk -

Buttermilk Substitute

Tell me I am not the only person who seems to constantly forget to add buttermilk to my shopping list.  It’s one of those ingredients that seems to go bad in my fridge when I do buy it and is never around in the moments I need it!  It’s almost embarrassing how often I have to use this buttermilk substitute recipe.  You’ll likely have this easy recipe memorized after just one use.

What can I use if I don’t have buttermilk?

There are a few popular methods for substituting buttermilk.  Pick which one is best for you, based on what you have on hand:

  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 Tablespoon white vinegar + enough milk to measure 1 cup
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 Tablespoon lemon juice + enough milk to measure 1 cup
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 and ¾ teaspoon cream of tarter + 1 cup of milk
How to substitute Buttermilk

The simplest way to substitute buttermilk is to pour 1 Tbs. of vinegar into a 1 cup measurer and then fill the rest of the measuring cup with milk.  Then gently stir the mixture and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

If you don’t have vinegar, lemon juice and cream of tarter also work as great buttermilk substitutions.  Use them in the same way described above.

Three photos for making a buttermilk substitution with milk and vinegar, milk and lemon juice, and milk and cream of tarter.

Dairy free buttermilk substitution:

If you have a dairy allergy you can also use this buttermilk substitute recipe with a small adaptation.  Instead of using 1 cup of milk, use coconut milk! So add vinegar or lemon juice to a 1 cup measurer and then fill the rest of the measuring cup with coconut milk. Voila!  I dairy-free buttermilk substitute.

Vegan buttermilk substitution:

If you are vegan, you can use the dairy-free substitute described above or you can also use soy milk!  To use soy-milk as a vegan buttermilk substitute, simple add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (or lemon juice) to a 1 cup measurer and fill the rest of the cup with soy milk.  Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes before using.

Can you freeze buttermilk?

Yes!  Buttermilk freezes well.  Just be sure to store it in a sealed container and it will last in the freezer for up to 3 months.  You can also freeze buttermilk by using and ice cube tray and freezing it in 1 tablespoon portions!  This makes it really convenient when you need to use just a small amount.

Homemade buttermilk being poured from a liquid measuring cup into a clear glass bowl.

More buttermilk recipes:

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How to make buttermilk -
Prep 3 minutes
Total 3 minutes
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  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 cup milk (scant cup)


  • Pour the tablespoon of vinegar into a 1 cup measurer.  
  • Fill the rest of the 1 cup measurer with milk. 
  • Gently stir and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes. This will allow the milk to slightly curdle, giving it a buttermilk-like texture and taste.


You can also use cream of tartar and milk as a buttermilk substitute, or substitute plain yogurt for buttermilk. Read more in the post above.


Calories: 151kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 7gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 105mgPotassium: 322mgSugar: 12gVitamin A: 395IUCalcium: 276mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. 5 stars
    Fabulous and thank you, we do not tend to use buttermilk in the UK and it is very difficult to find when a recipe calls for it. l can now make my own.

  2. Any other way I can measure the vinegar and the milk without having a big measuring cup! Help lol thanks!

    1. There are 16 tablespoons (TBS) in 1 cup, since the recipe stated put one TBS and then full the 1 cup, that means 1 TBS vinegar or lemon and 15 TBS of milk. If you don’t have a TBS use any spoon but and 1 vinegar and 15 milk .

  3. I drink it, actually, though I only buy it when it’s for a recipe. I drink the leftover buttermilk and love it!

  4. For a buttermilk substitute, sounds like literally buttermilk while leaving the curds in lmao 🤣 (here for the ratios since i forgot how simple it was 1;1, haven’t made cheese in a while…..)

    That’s not a substitute that’s the literal buttermilk recipe is my only point….

  5. My mom taught me this but I forgot. I now keep a carton of cultured buttermilk blend in my freezer. No waste.

  6. 5 stars
    This is ages old and such a great hack! I remember my great grandmother, grandmother and mom using this for ‘all things buttermilk!!
    Such a great tip to pass along.
    I don’t know about anyone else- but I cannot stand buttermilk! I was always throwing a whole carton out bc no one in my family would drink it. But, they all demanded buttermilk chicken, pork chops and biscuits! (Also awesome to use for Buttermilk crumbles, pies and cakes!
    Best kitchen hack since the pepper mill!

    1. 4 stars
      You don’t DRINK buttermilk: you put it in a bowl and top it with lots OF CINNAMON SUGAR. Other than that it’s for baking and cooking.

      1. Some people actually do drink buttermilk. I know lots of people who love it. My dad loved it with a bit of salt and pepper.

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