What Are Different Substitutes for Buttermilk?

Christina Edwards

When trying to find a suitable substitute for buttermilk, individuals often have a few options. Adding an acidic element, like vinegar or lemon juice, can create a suitable alternative in many cases. Cream of tarter can also be added to milk and used in place of buttermilk. Yogurt, or a mixture of yogurt and milk can also be used.


Traditional buttermilk is the liquid that is left after making butter from cream. It is essentially just slightly sour milk. It is a little thicker than regular milk, and it will typically make baked goods turn out light and fluffy, especially those also made with baking soda. Many people do not buy buttermilk regularly, since it is not used in a lot of recipes, so substitutes for buttermilk can come in handy.

Yogurt can replace buttermilk.
Yogurt can replace buttermilk.

Adding an acidic liquid to regular milk can curdle it slightly, making it a good buttermilk substitute. Vinegar and lemon juice, for instance, can both be used to make substitutes for buttermilk. One tablespoon (15 milliliters) of one of these liquids should be poured into a 1-cup (240 milliliters) measuring cup. Milk can then be poured into the measuring cup until 1 cup (240 milliliters) of liquid is in the cup.

After 1 cup (240 milliliters) of liquid is in the cup, it should be stirred gently. It can then be left to sit for a few extra minutes. The vinegar or lemon juice will curdle the milk slightly, creating one of the best substitutes for buttermilk.

Regular milk can also be mixed with a little cream of tartar, which is also an acidic compound, to create a buttermilk substitute. Almost 2 teaspoons (almost 10 milliliters) of cream of tartar should first be mixed with 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of whole milk. This mixture should then be mixed with enough regular milk to create 1 cup (240 milliliters) of liquid. To ensure that there are no lumps in buttermilk substitutes made with cream of tartar, it is important to whisk the mixture well.

Yogurt can also be used to make a couple substitutes for buttermilk. When using yogurt or yogurt mixtures for substitutes for buttermilk, one should typically use plain yogurt. Flavored yogurts, like fruit yogurts, could result in a culinary disaster. Some individuals choose to mix equal amounts of regular milk with yogurt to create a substitute. Other individuals may choose to add a little vinegar or lemon juice to make the mixture curdle slightly.

Adding lemon juice to milk will curdle it -- making a good buttermilk substitute.
Adding lemon juice to milk will curdle it -- making a good buttermilk substitute.

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