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Finding a Substitute for Buttermilk: The Best 8 Alternatives

substitute for buttermilk

Buttermilk is a byproduct of milk that has a tangy flavor and a thicker consistency than that of milk. However, modern buttermilk is usually made by adding lactic acid to milk and fermenting it. Thanks to its acidity, buttermilk activates the baking soda in a recipe, acting as a raising agent. Therefore, people use it to make pancakes, biscuits, muffins, waffles, and cakes, as it gives them a moist, tender, and light texture.

Although buttermilk is so popular, many people don’t have it on hand, while others don’t use it for dietary reasons. Luckily, there are all sorts of buttermilk alternatives that you can safely rely on when baking. And since all of them are easy to come by, you won’t have any trouble finding a reliable substitute for buttermilk. Let’s check them out!

1. Milk and Lemon Juice

Since lemon juice is an acid, you can replicate the fermentation process by adding it to milk. As a result, you can use a mix of lemon juice and milk as a substitute for buttermilk. But keep in mind that lemon juice will add a lemony flavor to your final product, so stay clear of it if you are not fond of citrus.

When substituting for one cup of buttermilk, you’ll need to mix a tablespoon of lemon juice with a cup of milk. You can use bottled lemon juice or freshly squeezed lemon juice to achieve similar results. However, the former usually contain additional ingredients like sodium benzoate that may rarely trigger asthma symptoms.

1 Cup Buttermilk = 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice + 1 Cup Milk.

2. Milk and Vinegar

If you want to achieve a similar consistency and flavor to that of buttermilk, you can add vinegar to milk. And while any type of vinegar, like apple cider or distilled white vinegar works, the former has a more neutral flavor.

You can also use any type of milk, yet, if your recipe requires a specific type of buttermilk, such as low-fat, make sure to pick a similar type of milk for the substitute. Also, don’t forget to stir the mix and let it sit for about 5 minutes before adding it to the rest of your ingredients.

1 Cup Buttermilk = 1 Tbsp Vinegar + 1 Cup Milk.

3. Lactose-Free Milk and Acid

Buttermilk is preferred by many lactose-intolerant people because of its lower lactose levels. But if you have an extremely low tolerance for lactose, you can make a replacement for buttermilk using lactose-free milk and acid. However, please note that its taste might be a bit too sweet for some recipes that call for high quantities of buttermilk.

Do you want to give it a try? Then you can start by mixing one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar with one cup of lactose-free milk. Usually, this mix is more than enough to substitute for one entire cup of buttermilk.

1 Cup Buttermilk = 1 Tbsp Vinegar or Lemon Juice + 1 Cup Lactose-Free Milk.

4. Sour Cream and Milk or Water

Sour cream is made by fermenting cream using lactic acid bacteria, which gives it a tangy flavor similar to buttermilk. As a result, it is a great alternative to buttermilk, which is used by chefs all over the world. Yet, it’s important to mention that sour cream is thicker than buttermilk, meaning that you should thin it with milk or water before using it.

In order to replace one cup of buttermilk, you’ll need to mix ¾ cup of sour cream and ¼ cup of water or milk. Then, whisk until the mixture is smooth and, voilà, you’ve just got yourself a substitute for buttermilk.

1 Cup Buttermilk = ¾ Cup Sour Cream + ¼ Cup Milk or Water.

5. Plain Kefir

Plain Kefir

Plain Kefir is a beverage made from fermented milk that tastes and looks similar to buttermilk. Thus, you can rely on Kefir whenever you don’t feel like using buttermilk for your recipe. But even though kefir has a wider range of beneficial bacteria and microbes, heating it will kill most of them.

Substituting buttermilk with kefir is extremely easy, as you can replace it in a one-to-one ratio. Just remember that you should use plain kefir, as other flavored variants can alter the taste of your baked goods.

1 Cup Buttermilk = 1 Cup Plain Kefir.

6. Milk and Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate, is a white powder that results from the process of winemaking. Since it is an acidic substance and has a neutral flavor, you can combine it with milk to create a substitute for buttermilk.

Usually, ¾ teaspoons of cream tartar and one cup of milk are enough to replace one cup of buttermilk. However, cream of tartar clumps when stirred directly into milk, so you should first mix the cream with other dry ingredients and then add the milk. Or, you can whisk the cream with two tablespoons of milk then add this mixture to the rest of the milk to prevent clumping.

1 Cup Buttermilk = ¾ Teaspoon Cream Tartar + 1 Cup Milk.

7. Plain Yogurt and Milk or Water

Plain yogurt has an acidic flavor and a similar composition to that of buttermilk, meaning that you can use it as a substitute. Due to its texture, this replacement works best for cakes, biscuits, muffins, and waffles.

One cup of plain yogurt should be enough to replace one cup of buttermilk. Yet, most people recommend that you first thin the yogurt with milk or water, especially for recipes that require a more creamy consistency. In other words, you can combine ¾ cup of plain yogurt with ¼ cup of milk or water and whisk until smooth to replace one cup of buttermilk.

1 Cup Buttermilk = ¾ Cup Plain Yogurt + ¼ Cup Milk or Water.

8. Buttermilk Powder and Water

You can find powdered, dehydrated buttermilk at most grocery stores and use water to return it to its liquid state. You’ll need to combine ¼ cup of powdered buttermilk with one cup of water and use this mix to replace one cup of buttermilk. To get the best results, you should first mix the powder with the other dry ingredients and then add water.

1 Cup Buttermilk = ¼ Cup Powdered Buttermilk + 1 Cup Water.