Buttermilk is a dairy product that’s typically used in baking to make muffins, cakes and biscuits. It can also be used in marinades, batters for fried foods, or as a creamy soup base. Luckily, there are plenty of buttermilk substitutes you can try that will help you achieve the same effect.
Here are 10 great substitutes for buttermilk.
1. Full Fat Milk with Vinegar or Lemon Juice
For those of you who don’t really use buttermilk very often in recipes, it makes sense to just make your own rather than buy a full carton from the store. This combination of full fat milk with vinegar or lemon juice works perfectly as a buttermilk substitute and takes very little time to prepare.
Can I Use Full Fat Milk with Vinegar or Lemon Juice Instead of Buttermilk?
Absolutely! In fact, this combination of full fat milk with vinegar or lemon juice is probably one of the easiest buttermilk substitutes you can make because of how readily available these ingredients are.
This buttermilk substitute is made with cow’s milk, which is a good source of calcium and protein, as well as nutrients such as iodine, magnesium, and vitamin B12. It contains protein, whey, and casein to help with weight management and satiety.
Best for: cooking, baking, soups, marinades
How to Substitute Full Fat Milk with Vinegar or Lemon Juice for Buttermilk
Combine 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of full fat milk and stir well. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes before using.
Substitute buttermilk for full fat milk with vinegar or lemon juice in a 1:1 ratio. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of buttermilk, you can simply substitute it with 1 cup of the full fat milk with vinegar or lemon juice mixture.
2. Soy Milk and Lemon Juice
Soy milk is a popular alternative to cow’s milk for people who suffer from lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. If you’re trying to stay dairy-free, the combination of unsweetened soy milk and lemon juice might just be the right buttermilk substitute for you.
Can I Use Soy Milk and Lemon Juice Instead of Buttermilk?
Soy milk and lemon juice is an excellent vegan substitute for buttermilk. It has the right consistency for cooking and baking, and contains just the right amount of tanginess thanks to the lemon juice.
Soy milk is a good source of calcium, zinc, dietary fiber, iron, B vitamins, and unsaturated fatty acids, and contains less calories than regular cow’s milk. However, the consumption of soy, particularly in high doses, is still very much up for debate and there are limited risks associated with consuming at least 60–100 mg isoflavones of soy per day.
Best for: baking, cooking, soups, marinades
How to Substitute Soy Milk and Lemon Juice for Buttermilk
Combine 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk and stir well. Let this mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Substitute buttermilk with unsweetened soy milk and lemon juice in a 1:1 ratio. If your recipe calls for ½ cup of buttermilk, you can simply substitute it with ½ cup of unsweetened soy milk and lemon juice. Let this mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Be sure to use unsweetened soy milk to avoid unnecessary flavors in your recipe. Some soy milks are also lightly sweetened by default, so you may need to reduce the sugar content in your recipe as well.
When using soy milk and lemon juice in place of buttermilk, make sure to also increase your thickening agent especially in custard or pudding recipes. Soy milk contains very little fat, making it thinner and less creamy.
The recipe: Vegan Buttermilk Substitute
3. Plain Milk Kefir
Plain milk kefir is a fermented dairy product that bears a similar flavor profile to buttermilk. It’s naturally tangy, and may sometimes taste slightly carbonated due to the gas released during the fermentation process, but it’s an excellent alternative because it’s naturally acidic on its own.
Can I Use Plain Milk Kefir Instead of Buttermilk?
Plain milk kefir can be used as buttermilk substitute for recipes that don’t require heat. This is because heat kills some of the good bacteria in the kefir, so you would be missing out on some of its health benefits if you were to use it in cooking or baking. It’s fantastic as a buttermilk substitute for adding to coffee, oatmeal, salad dressings, and cold soups.
Yogurt is one of the most popular probiotic foods on the market, but plain milk kefir is superior because it contains more strains of bacteria and yeasts. Some of the main health benefits associated with probiotic consumption include improved gastrointestinal microflora, improved lactose metabolism, enhanced immunity, and lower LDL cholesterol levels. Plain milk kefir is also a great source of calcium and vitamin K2 for healthy, strong bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis.
Best for: heat-free preparations, oatmeal, salad dressing, cold soups, coffee
How to Substitute Plain Milk Kefir for Buttermilk
Substitute buttermilk for plain milk kefir in a 1:1 ratio. If your recipe calls for ½ cup of buttermilk, you can simply substitute it with ½ cup of plain milk kefir.
Be sure to use plain milk kefir and not the flavored or sweetened variety. Plain milk kefir is not sweet and will have that tart flavor that is most similar to buttermilk.
4. Milk and Cream of Tartar
Milk and cream of tartar is another dairy-free buttermilk substitute that you can quickly make at home. Cream of tartar is acidic, so this mixture will yield something similar to buttermilk in both taste and texture.
Can I Use Milk and Cream of Tartar Instead of Buttermilk?
Yes, you can. In fact, milk and cream of tartar is a convenient option because cream of tartar is shelf stable and easily stored, so you can just mix it with milk in small amounts to create a buttermilk substitute.
Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate, is composed of tartaric acid, which is formed during winemaking. It’s been shown to be a home remedy for a variety of conditions such as edema, chronic constipation, cystitis and smoking cessation. Cream of tartar contains a high amount of potassium, so those with kidney problems or those taking potassium-sparing diuretics should avoid cream of tartar to prevent hyperkalemia. In small amounts, it is perfectly safe to consume.
Best for: cooking, baking, whipping, leavening
How to Substitute Milk and Cream of Tartar for Buttermilk
Add 1 ¾ teaspoon of cream of tartar to 1 cup of warm milk. Mix well and ensure that all of the cream of tartar is completely dissolved. Let this mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Use full-fat milk for this, as the fat content is an essential component in substituting buttermilk. Skim, non-fat, low-fat, or lactose-free milk would not work for this particular substitution because the final product would be too thin.
5. Plain Yogurt
Yogurt has a creamy but tangy flavor on its own, so it comes as no surprise that yogurt is one of the easiest and most readily available buttermilk substitutes there is. Since yogurt is already acidic, there’s no need to add vinegar or lemon juice to it.
Can I Use Plain Yogurt Instead of Buttermilk?
You can use yogurt in place of buttermilk in most recipes. In fact, in terms of flavor, the two are extremely similar in that both have a milky texture and are slightly tart. However, buttermilk is sometimes used to help dough rise, whereas yogurt is not, so make sure your recipe does not require a leavening agent.
Yogurt is a nutrient-dense food that’s high in vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. Regular consumption of yogurt has been linked to a variety of health benefits such as better weight management, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced risk of stroke, an improved gut microbiome, and improved immune health.
Best for: pancakes, cakes, muffins, cooking, baking
How to Substitute Plain Yogurt for Buttermilk
Substitute buttermilk with plain yogurt in a 1:1 ratio. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of buttermilk, simply substitute it with 1 cup of plain yogurt.
If the yogurt is too thick and creamy, you can thin the yogurt with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water so that the texture is more similar to buttermilk.
6. Sour Cream
Sour cream is a popular buttermilk substitute because the flavor profile is quite similar to buttermilk, but with an even richer and creamier texture that’s perfect for baking. It’s shockingly good and requires no further prep; just use it as is and you’re good to go.
Can I Use Sour Cream Instead of Buttermilk?
It can be surprisingly easy to replace buttermilk with sour cream in your recipes. Use it on everything from fluffy pancakes to crunchy fried chicken! Sour cream is pretty sour on its own, so just be sure to balance it out with a bit of sweetness if needed.
Amanda over on I Am Baker has a fantastic buttermilk recipe using sour cream and an extra tablespoon of vinegar to make it extra sour. It may sound intimidating at first, but that extra bit of tanginess is the secret to a lot of great recipes. Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it!
What’s great about sour cream is that you have the option of going with either the pasteurized or unpasteurized versions depending on your dietary preferences. The unpasteurized version offers the same health benefits as yogurt and kefir thanks to the probiotic content. These include a stronger immune system, an improved gut microbiome, reduced risk of cardiovascular health, and more.
Best for: adding moisture to baked goods, high fat recipes, dense cakes and loaves
How to Substitute Sour Cream for Buttermilk
Substitute buttermilk with sour cream in a 1:1 ratio. If your recipe calls for ½ cup of buttermilk, you can simply substitute it with ½ cup of sour cream.
Be sure to use unsweetened and unflavored sour cream for this recipe. You have the option of using pasteurized or unpasteurized sour cream for the substitution, but bear in mind that the pasteurized version does not contain probiotics.
7. Buttermilk Powder and Water
Buttermilk powder and water is probably one of the best buttermilk substitutes there is because, well, it’s still buttermilk. It’s more shelf stable, so it can be stored for longer periods, but it’s the closest you’ll get to the real thing.
Can I Use Buttermilk Powder Instead of Buttermilk?
Yes, absolutely! Buttermilk powder is the same as regular buttermilk and can be used in cooking and baking. In fact, it’s so useful that it may quickly become a staple in your kitchen since it keeps so well. You just need to rehydrate the buttermilk powder first before using it, but otherwise, it’s extremely easy to keep it in your pantry.
Some users recommend buttermilk powder for cooking and baking only, rather than drinking it straight or adding it to foods like oatmeal or smoothies. This is because the texture of the buttermilk powder changes slightly once it’s been dehydrated and can end up a little chalky afterwards even once it’s been mixed with water. This boils down to personal preference though, and does not affect the overall recipe.
Buttermilk has been linked to many health benefits such as lower LDL cholesterol levels, improved immunity, reduced risk of colon cancer, suppression of gastrointestinal pathogens, and more. In powdered form, you would still get many of the same health benefits.
Best for: cooking, baking
How to Substitute Buttermilk Powder for Buttermilk
Buttermilk powder doesn’t require any soaking or activation prior to use. Simply mix 30 grams of buttermilk powder with 1 cup of water in place of 1 cup of buttermilk.
Make sure to mix the buttermilk powder well and ensure that all clumps are completely dissolved.
8. Almond Milk and Vinegar
Similarly to soy milk and lemon juice, almond milk and vinegar is another dairy-free, vegan option that you can use as a buttermilk substitute. This mixture has the added benefit of actually thickening and curdling, which results in a creamier finished product that’s perfect for cooking and baking.
Can I Use Almond Milk and Vinegar Instead of Buttermilk?
You can easily substitute buttermilk with almond milk and vinegar instead. In fact, many people prefer this option because the mixture ends up thicker, just like regular buttermilk. It has the added benefit of having a slightly nutty flavor, which usually pairs well with most baked goods, such as cakes and other desserts.
Almond milk is known to be a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and essential minerals. It’s also low in calories and carbs, and has been shown to have cardiovascular protective benefits due to its unique nutrient composition.
Best for: cooking, baking, thickening, leavening, soups, marinades
How to Substitute Almond Milk and Vinegar for Buttermilk
Combine ¼ cup of almond milk with ½ teaspoon of white vinegar and stir well. Let the mixture set for at least 10 minutes, or until it has started to thicken or curdle slightly.
Use unsweetened almond milk to avoid unnecessary flavors in your recipe. If an unsweetened option is not available, you can add less sugar or add another teaspoon of vinegar to your recipe.
9. Coconut Milk and Lemon Juice
Coconut milk and lemon juice makes a great buttermilk substitute because unlike other non-dairy milk options, coconut milk contains a good amount of fat. This helps create a richer, creamier base for both cooking and baking, and it actually thickens up slightly when whisked.
Can I Use Coconut Milk and Lemon Juice Instead of Buttermilk?
If you’re looking for a high-fat buttermilk substitute, you can’t go wrong with coconut milk and lemon juice. It’s fantastic for everything from savory marinades to baked goods.
Since coconut milk is naturally sweet, it does add a nice flavor to desserts and other sweet treats. However for savory recipes, you may need to alter the other ingredients in order to balance out the sweetness of the coconut milk.
Coconut milk offers plenty of health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, improvement of cognitive functions, lower cholesterol, and many more. It contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which the body can quickly break down and convert into energy.
Best for: cooking, baking, pancakes, recipes that require thickeners
How to Substitute Coconut Milk and Lemon Juice for Buttermilk
Substitute 2 cups of buttermilk for 2 cups of coconut milk and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and stir well. Let the mixture set for at least 10 minutes before using.
Use unsweetened coconut milk straight from the can, and make sure it contains no added sugars or flavors. In terms of the overall fat content of your recipe, you may need to slightly decrease the butter or oil ingredients since there is already plenty of fat in the coconut milk.
10. Tofu, Water and Lemon Juice
One of the main purposes of adding buttermilk to recipes is to add moisture and volume. With this mixture of tofu, water and lemon juice, you’ll be getting the best of both worlds. When you really need to thicken a dish, tofu gets the job done. As an added bonus, this buttermilk substitute is also vegan and dairy-free as well.
Can I Use Tofu, Water, and Lemon Juice Instead of Buttermilk?
Definitely! This mixture of tofu, water, and lemon juice is rather simple, but it’s effective at doing what buttermilk does best. It adds volume to your batter, it’s smooth and creamy, and it’s acidic so it acts as a leavening agent to help dough rise and expand.
Alisa over on Go Dairy Free has an interesting recipe similar to this posted on her blog, except hers includes a pinch of salt. Give that version a go, if you prefer that slight saltiness to your buttermilk.
Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein and contains amino acids for muscle tissue repair and recovery. It contains essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper, and B vitamins. Some studies also suggest that the isoflavones found in tofu may reduce risk of coronary heart disease and certain types of cancers.
Best for: baking, cooking
How to Substitute Tofu, Water, and Lemon Juice for Buttermilk
In a food processor, puree ¼ cup of tofu with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and ½ cup of water. Let mixture set for at least 5 minutes before using.
Be sure to use silken tofu for this, as firm tofu will not have the same effect due to its texture and composition. Silken tofu is extremely soft and almost liquid to the touch, making it ideal for use as a buttermilk substitute.