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 mins
Total 3 mins
Add to Meal Plan


  • 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. Would the coconut milk cause a coconut taste? I’m going to make banana bread and curious if it’ll give the bread a coconut taste.

  2. Has anyone tried any other nut, seed, grain milks that aren’t coconut? Would say almond, cashew, or oat milk work? I’m severely allergic to coconut in an any form, and I don’t use soy of any kind.

  3. Hi Lauren
    Can I make the milk and vinegar mixture the night before or is it best not to store?

  4. Hi
    I use buttermilk for the enzymes to tenderize my chicken before I cook it. If I make buttermilk by combining milk and vinegar will that still tenderize my chicken?

        1. My great uncle, would pour a cup of buttermilk and crumble cornbread in it. Of course he was raised in the south and picked cotton, they made the best of what was available being poor. He loved it.

          1. I love buttermilk in the summer it is just refreshing and I also crumble some cornbread in it.

  5. Store-bought buttermilk will last for three or four months in the refrigerator. Pay no attention to the expiration date on the bottle. Thanks My only suggestion Is to shake before using. It tends to separate and shaking it restores to the way it should be.

  6. Where I live, the only kind of butter milk available anywhere is cultured non-fat butter milk. I have found that a cup of sour cream is a great subs for butter milk. My cakes come out moist and delicious when I use sour cream.

  7. 5 stars
    I have been using your suggestions for making buttermilk. Thank you for saving me. I never have buttermilk when I need it.

  8. very pleased to have found your buttermilk recipe. shop-bought cartoons just contain too much quantity for my use.
    thank you!

  9. 5 stars
    I’m almost a 70 year old male. Never baked before. I’m trying different recipes to replicate my mam’s baking when I was a teenager. The buttermilk substitute is a god send. Thank you. John.

  10. I just love to drink buttermilk. I am always picking up a quart when wife isn’t looking. It never lasts for more than a few hours. My Dad loved it too. My brother can’t stand it at all. He even tried to like it to be like my dad but failed. I wish there was a way to get the butter chunks in. By the way, if you get a really sore throat, try drinking lots of cold buttermilk and your sore throat will be finished.

  11. 5 stars
    Thank you Lauren, I made corn dogs for my hubby last night and the recipe called for buttermilk. I found your buttermilk recipe right away with great reviews so I went with it. My hubby enjoyed the corn dogs and wants me to make them again soon. Thank you for posting this for us. 😁

  12. This was a life save because I had just run out and needed it for a cobbler I was making!! Do you know how long it can be stored for in the refrigerator?

  13. I didn’t know how to make butter milk yet I wanted to use it during cooking. Now I’ve got it.
    Thank you. Sarah, Uganda

  14. 5 stars
    Clearly explained! Thank you for posting this info: I’m in New Zealand, and a fan of ‘American regional cooking’… The term “Buttermilk” turns up regularly in recipes – and now I know how to replicate it! Cheers

  15. 5 stars
    So simple and smart. I’ve lost count on how many times I needed buttermilk and had none! I have used all 3 options and I must say the vinegar works best for me taste wise!

  16. 5 stars
    Thank you!! I live in Hawaii, in a VERY rural area and a major store is 50 minutes away (one way). On top of that, EVERY store I went to today was out of buttermilk (Safeway, KTA, Target, Walmart). It happens SO MUCH it drives me crazy and I need to just not worry about it and find another way to deal with these outages. I love making buttermilk biscuits but have been very discouraged. I live almost a mile up so it’s cold and rainy quite often. I love biscuits.

    1. 5 stars
      Jodi, to have buttermilk in a pinch there are two dry forms I have used in recipes. Walmart carries “Saco Buttermilk” that comes in a small (12 oz) canister. However, my favorite is “Bob’s Red Mill Sweet Cream Buttermilk”, it comes in a plastic pouch, and I order it online. I mainly buy dry buttermilk to make ranch seasoning from scratch.

      1. I just wanted to say thank you for this! I don’t use buttermilk very much and it never occurred to me to buy powdered buttermilk so that I can have it when I need it and nothing will go to waste.

    2. Jodi,
      So jealous you live in Hawaii my husband and I miss Hawaii so much. I love the lemon and milk way of making buttermilk.

  17. This doesn’t even remotely taste of ranch. I feel lied to.
    Has anyone else who left a comment tasted ranch recently? Because this is weird savory milk product

    1. This ISN’T a recipe for Ranch dressing my friend. It’s a recipe to make BUTTERMILK if you cant find it at a store. There are really great recipes using this recipe of buttermilk if you are either out of buttermilk or can’t get it locally.

  18. 5 stars
    Delicious! I was a little hesitant to make biscuits, but these are so easy and so good! I grated unsalted butter that I had stored in my freezer and it worked perfectly. They puffed up very nicely. Thank you!

  19. 5 stars
    This was a big help n a pinch. I also take my leftover (store bought) buttermilk and pour it into measuring cup. I then pour it evenly into an ice tray. I write on the freezer bag how many cubes I need for a 1/4 or 1/2 cup so I can just thaw what I need for my recipe. This method works great for all sorts of liquids. It’s a simple way to save a few $ and a trip to the store.

  20. 5 stars
    Which one of these tastes true-est to buttermilk? Why not add a bit of (melted?) butter and maybe cream or halfnhalf too? My buttermilk usually has chunks of butter floating around in it; can’t imagine it would taste the same without it…

    1. Buttermilk doesn’t actually contain butter. It’s a by-product from the production of butter. When you whip cream, it will eventually separate into curds (butter) and whey (buttermilk)

  21. 5 stars
    This worked well for us in a pancake recipe and added to our smashed potatoes. I’m seeing folks successfully freeze store purchased buttermilk and I am wondering if anyone has had success in freezing this “homemade” version.
    Thank you!

  22. 4 stars
    I didn’t have any fresh milk, so I used evaporated milk from the can and added the white vinegar. It worked very well. Thank your for this recipe as I cannot get buttermilk in my area. Also I have heard that it is quite pricey!

  23. Thank you.
    A caution…
    The taste of the yoghurt substitute might be similar to buttermilk but the consistency will be different. One will end up with a drier batter and drier baked goods.
    I’ve tried both lemon juice and vinegar. The lemon juice definitely thickened/curdled the milk more. Lemons are about 10x more acidic. (Even though they are only about 1 digit different on the pH scale, the pH scale is logarithmic, meaning a factor of 10, 2 digits would be a factor of 100, etc)
    Thirdly, the lemon juice and vinegar methods will impart different flavours to the end product, …different from buttermilk and different from each other.

  24. 5 stars
    I sure did!! No need to purchase buttermilk anymore!! I also used 3 day old milk #nowastethere !!!

    Thank u!!

  25. Out of the 4 different way of making buttermilk which one is best for baking because I have vinegar, lemon juice and cream of tart?? Because of taste? Thanks Josie

  26. What happened to the actual cake recipe? Got dozens of ways to make buttermilk, scanned to the end of the article, and WHAT??:? no yellow cake recipe!

  27. This might be a no-brainer, but, can I make the buttermilk substitute a few hours ahead so it’s ready when I throw my cornbread together?
    Thank you!!

    1. Use the yogurt instead of buttermilk. But if your cooking with it expect the probiotics to die off anyways. This is also true with commercial saurkraut its pasteurized leaving little to no bacteria left. Home fermentation all the way.

  28. 5 stars
    Delicious recipe! I have Celiac Disease and substituted a gluten free flour blend for the 2 cup regular flour without any trouble. My entire family wants this on our regular recipe rotation.

  29. 5 stars
    Hello and thank you! 😭
    I wish to know if you can use this result to prepare Crème Fraîche.
    Thanks in advance!