How To Make Buttermilk (Recipe) – Try this Homemade Substitute in your next baking project! This quick recipe is so easy to make, you’ll never buy buttermilk again!

Side view of the cutest little pitcher full of this homemade buttermilk.

Why We Love This Homemade Buttermilk Recipe

It’s happened to all of us. You’re planning to make an incredible batch of fluffy pancakes over the weekend, and your recipe calls for buttermilk. 

You run to the grocery store to buy all the necessary ingredients. Then return home with a half-gallon jug of buttermilk, when really, you only needed one cup for your recipe.

Now the nearly-full jug sits in the fridge… Glaring at you every time you open the door.

It’s taunting you with questions like: 

  • Am I a lost cause? 
  • Will you use me in future recipes? 
  • Will I end up in the trash, yet again, as wasted money?

Buttermilk can be so passive-aggressive. 

The ingredients needed for this recipe - milk and lemons.

Easy Substitute for Buttermilk

I have a suggestion… Stop buying buttermilk and make an easy substitute instead, whenever the occasion arises. 

When you want to make a quick buttermilk dressing, waffles, or cake, there’s no need to run back to the store. You can get the same tangy flavor that you do from buttermilk using this simple buttermilk recipe at home!

This old bakers’ trick for homemade buttermilk is a fabulous quick-fix for when you need a small amount, and don’t want to run to the store for store-bought buttermilk.

It only requires 2 staple ingredients, that we all usually have on-hand, and about 10 minutes of wait time!

Hand using a lemon juicer to extract the juice.

What Is Buttermilk?

Well, that’s sort of a trick question. 

Historically, it is the liquid remaining after butter is churned. It is thin and slightly tart with little bits of buttery bits left behind.

In order to waste-not, pioneers and settlers used this liquid to enhance everything from cornbread and biscuits to stews and gravy, and even chicken!

They even created household uses for this recipe, such as washing hair and skin for beautification, or pouring it in the garden to fertilize certain types of edible plants.

Yet, nowadays we find cultured buttermilk at the market. This high-tech processed buttermilk has nothing to do with making butter. Instead, bacteria is added to milk to induce fermentation. 

Cultured buttermilk is usually much more tangy and thick than the traditional version, and cannot always be used in equal proportions in old-time recipes, especially when measuring by weight.

So if cultured buttermilk is fermented in factories to simulate traditional buttermilk, why can’t we make it at home?

Well, I’m sure you’ve guessed by now… You can. 

And it’s so easy to do, you’ll never see the need to buy cultured buttermilk again.

Whether you need low-fat or full-fat buttermilk for your recipes, you can make a diy buttermilk in minutes! Ready to get started?

Hand pouring lemon juice into a glass measuring cup.

Ingredients You Need

  • Milk
  • Lemon Juice (or White Vinegar)
Milk being added into the measuring cup with the lemon juice.

How To Make Buttermilk

This Homemade Buttermilk Substitute is so handy, you will wonder why you haven’t tried this before. 

  1. Simply mix milk and lemon juice together. Use the ratio of 1 cup milk to 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  2. Allow the mixture to rest and curdle. It only takes a few minutes.
  3. Then stir and use!

Get the Full Printable How to Make Buttermilk (Easy Recipe + VIDEO) Below. Enjoy!

Buttermilk substitute curdling in a glass measuring cup.

Can You Make This Substitute With Skim Milk?

Of course! I usually suggest using the full-fat “whole milk” version in recipes, because it offers a creamier texture and richer taste.

However, you can make this substitute with any kind of milk, including fat-free and 1% milk.

Just follow the same procedure, remembering that thinner milk will produce thinner liquid.

Metal spoon over the measuring cup showing the thickness and color of the buttermilk.

Dairy-Free Buttermilk Substitute 

Can you make a milk-free substitute for vegan and dairy-free recipes?

Absolutely! Believe it or not, most alternative milks, like almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk will curdle with a little splash of lemon juice as well.

You can follow the exact same instructions to make any sort of non-dairy substitute you prefer.

This is a great option when baking for friends and family with food allergies!

Side view of the mini pitcher with homemade buttermilk in it.

Ways To Use This Buttermilk Recipe 

Ready to start cooking and baking with this substitute? Try one (or all) of these amazing recipes!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Buttermilk And Milk Be Used Interchangeably? 

Yes and no.

Yes, you can use buttermilk in place of standard milk in most recipes. And visa-versa. 

However, this substitute is thicker and contains less moisture than milk. Therefore, you always need to add 1-2 tablespoons more buttermilk in recipes that call for 1 cup plain milk. 

Consequently, if a recipe calls for 1 cup buttermilk, and you want to use regular milk, you will need to reduce the buttermilk by 1-2 tablespoons.

Buttermilk icing being spread over a chocolate cake.

How Long Does This Recipe Last?

This Homemade Substitute will last as long as regular milk. Usually 2-4 weeks.

Check the expiration date on your milk carton. Then once the substitute is made, store it in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, up to the expiration date.

If the mixture has been sitting for quite a while, you will need to shake the container to re-mix before using it. Otherwise, the liquid will have little bits of curd in it.

Vanilla buttermilk cake served on a blue plate.

If you love making things at home instead of buying them at the store, check out how to make vegetable stock or how to make ricotta cheese!

Looking for More Kitchen Hack Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try:

Buttermilk Substitute Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #howto #baking #substitute #milk
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How To Make Buttermilk

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Don't buy a half-gallon of buttermilk when you only need one cup! Instead, make this easy buttermilk substitute in a hurry!
Servings: 1


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or white vinegar)


  • Pour milk into a one-cup measuring pitcher, stopping just shy of one full cup.
  • Add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to the milk. If you need to add another splash of milk to the pitcher, do so to make sure you have one full cup of liquid.
  • Stir the milk and lemon juice to mix well.
  • Allow the mixture to sit and curdle for 10 minutes. Then stir again and use as needed.



This Homemade Substitute will last as long as regular milk. Usually 2-4 weeks.


Serving: 1cup, Calories: 152kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 105mg, Potassium: 322mg, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 395IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 276mg
Course: Beverage, How To
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier
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