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How to Make a Substitute for Buttermilk

How to Make a Substitute for Buttermilk

Last Updated on 23rd April 2022 by

So, you started mixing up your dry ingredients for pancakes and then moved on to the wet ones when you realize that you don’t have any buttermilk in the fridge. You must have used it the last time you made pancakes and forgot to replace it. This happens to me more often than I care to admit.

Do you need to stop everything to make a run to the grocery and buy buttermilk or is there a substitute for buttermilk that you could whip up at home?

There are probably foods in your kitchen already that you can use to make a buttermilk substitute. With just two simple ingredients, you can make buttermilk from scratch.

You should know that it won’t be exactly like the real thing, and the taste may be a bit different, but I can show you how to make a substitute for buttermilk that’s a reasonable facsimile.

Actual buttermilk is made using fermented cream that results from churning milk into butter. You probably don’t have access to the kind of equipment to put that together, so we won’t bother trying to make real buttermilk. Instead, we will make the next best thing.

How to Make Buttermilk Substitute

You really just need two ingredients to make buttermilk alternatives. You’ll need milk, of course, and then a curdling agent, because you will be curdling milk rather than fermenting. This is a much faster and simpler process, and it doesn’t require nearly as much effort on your part.

You will be mixing together lemon juice or vinegar along with milk. Lemon juice and vinegar are generally considered the best ingredients to use to mix with milk to make buttermilk. Use a tablespoon of lemon juice and then a cup of milk.

Mix them together and allow them to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. By that point, you should have some separation going on, and you’ll have buttermilk.

Now you know how to make buttermilk without having to go to the store to buy it.

How to Make Buttermilk without Milk

You don’t have to use milk in your buttermilk substitute. If you’re wondering how to make vegan buttermilk that simply doesn’t use goat or cow milk, you can try some substitutes.

The most common substitutions in vegan buttermilk are almond milk, coconut milk, and soy milk. Any of these will work just fine using the same formula I gave you above, using the exact same portions.

How to make buttermilk with almond milk? You can mix together a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice with a cup of almond milk. It works the same way as the method above- just leave them mixed together for about 10-15 minutes, and that should be enough time for them to curdle.

Then you can use the new buttermilk you made in whatever you are cooking.

How to Replace Buttermilk

If you want to substitute buttermilk in the recipe with your newly homemade buttermilk, then you can use a 1:1 ratio. In other words, just use the homemade stuff the same way as you would the authentic buttermilk.

You can measure out the exact same amounts and expect your biscuits or pancakes to turn out fine. Don’t worry about changing up the portion sizes at all with your substitute.

The taste may be slightly different, because you are working with different ingredients, after all. Authentic buttermilk doesn’t have any lemon juice or vinegar in it, and it is made through a different process than just mixing two ingredients together. It is made by churning, you remember.

So, you’ll end up with a different taste, and the homemade buttermilk results in slightly different outcomes for your food. The buttermilk biscuits and pancakes might not be quite as fluffy and airy as if you made them with actual buttermilk. That’s because the fermentation process acts as a raising agent for your foods.

How to Substitute Buttermilk in a Recipe

What if you don’t want to use buttermilk at all in your recipe or you don’t have the ingredients on hand to make a buttermilk substitute? How do you change u the recipe to accommodate for the missing buttermilk? Will you need to change how much of any of the ingredients you are using?

You could just use straight milk in the recipe instead of buttermilk. That usually works in most recipes, and you can end up with pretty good food still. Your food won’t be as fluffy, mind you, and the taste will be slightly different, but otherwise it should turn out the same.

You may need to thicken the recipe with a little more flour, just to cater for the missing buttermilk. It can be thicker than regular milk because of the fermentation or curdling process involved.

You could also use milk and cream of tarter mixed together. Or you can try kefir, which is a milk beverage that isn’t flavored. It can be pretty bland, so keep that in mind when you are making your food.

You can use dehydrated buttermilk and water as well. This dried buttermilk powder just needs some water to become buttermilk and be used in your recipes the same way you would use regular buttermilk.

Try using sour cream and water or sour cream and milk as well. You get the same tart taste of buttermilk and a creaminess that is very similar too.

There are lots of different foods you can use in your kitchen to make some kind of buttermilk substitute. I have only listed a few of them here, but that gives you some idea of the options available to you. I hope this helps you the next time you are in a bind and need some buttermilk but don’t have any available.

You probably have the ingredients in your kitchen to make a homemade buttermilk that can function nearly as well as the real thing. Don’t let the absence of buttermilk stop you from making some delicious homemade pancakes or biscuits.

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I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food!  You can find my Facebook here