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The 5 Best Substitutes for Buttermilk

Have you ever wondered what buttermilk is and why it’s called that?

Contrary to its name, buttermilk is actually a type of milk that has been treated with bacteria to give it a slightly sour taste.

It’s often used in baking as a leavening agent, and it can also be used to make pancakes, biscuits, and other hearty recipes.

But what if you don’t have buttermilk on hand? Here are five substitutes for buttermilk that you can use in a pinch.

What’s Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a type of milk that has been treated to thicken it and give it a slightly sour taste.

It is made by adding bacteria to milk, which causes the milk to curdle and thicken.

Buttermilk has a long history and was originally made as a by-product of butter production.

The bacteria used to make buttermilk were naturally present in the cream that was being churned into butter.

Today, buttermilk is often made with pasteurized milk and commercial cultures.

It is typically thinner than regular milk, with a slightly tangy taste.

Buttermilk can be used in baking or as a drink on its own.

It is also a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine, where it is used to make dishes like Kadhi and Chaas.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Buttermilk

If you are in need of a buttermilk substitute, never fear–there are many options available.

Here is a list of the five best substitutes for buttermilk:

1 – Milk + Lemon Juice

Milk + Lemon Juice is a sour milk product produced by the addition of lactic acid-producing bacteria to milk.

The bacteria culture suggests the presence of a sour, acidic taste and a slightly thickened texture.

Milk + Lemon Juice can also be used as a substitute for buttermilk in recipes.

To substitute, add 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice per cup of milk called for in the recipe.

Let stand for 5 minutes before using.

The acidity in the lemon will help to thicken the milk and give it a slightly sour flavor.

2 – Milk + White Vinegar

Mixing milk and white vinegar may not sound appetizing, but this simple hack can be used to create a delicious and versatile ingredient for baking.

When combined, the milk and vinegar create a thick, creamy mixture that has a slightly tangy flavor.

This makeshift buttermilk can be used in any recipe that calls for traditional buttermilk, and it can also be used to add flavor and moisture to bread, pancakes, and waffles.

To substitute milk and vinegar for buttermilk, simply mix one cup of milk with one tablespoon of vinegar.

Let the mixture sit for five minutes before using it in your recipe.

3 – Yogurt + Milk

Yogurt and milk are both popular dairy products, but they have some key differences.

Yogurt is made by adding bacteria to milk, which ferments the lactose and creates a tangy flavor.

Milk, on the other hand, does not undergo this fermentation process.

As a result, it has a milder flavor and a smoother texture.

Yogurt can be substituted for buttermilk in many recipes.

To do this, simply add 1 tablespoon of yogurt to 1 cup of milk.

This will provide the same acidity and thickness as buttermilk without the distinct flavor.

Whether you’re looking for a healthy snack or a versatile ingredient, yogurt and milk are both excellent choices.

4 – Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that originates from the Caucasus region.

It’s made by adding kefir grains to milk, which then ferments and creates a tangy, slightly effervescent beverage.

Kefir has a slightly sour taste and a thin, watery texture.

It’s often used as a buttermilk substitute in recipes.

To substitute kefir for buttermilk, simply add an equal amount of kefir to your recipe.

You may need to thin it out with a bit of water if the mixture is too thick.

Kefir can also be used in place of yogurt in many recipes.

Again, you may need to thin it out with water if the mixture is too thick.

Kefir can be found in most grocery stores in the dairy aisle.

5 – Sour Cream and Water or Milk

Sour cream and water or milk is a classic combo for making buttermilk.

The sour cream provides the acidity that is needed to react with the baking soda in recipes, while the water or milk helps to thin it out so that it can be easily incorporated into batters and doughs.

While some people may find the taste of sour cream to be a bit too strong on its own, when it is combined with water or milk, the flavor is much more subtle and can be easily adjusted to taste.

Additionally, the texture of sour cream and water or milk is much smoother than that of buttermilk, making it easier to work with.

When substituting sour cream and water or milk for buttermilk in recipes, simply use an equal amount of the mixture in place of the buttermilk called for in the recipe.


In summary, there are several excellent substitutes for buttermilk in recipes.

Milk + Lemon Juice, Milk + White Vinegar, Yogurt + Milk, Kefir and Sour Cream, and Water or Milk can all be used to recreate the same flavor and texture as traditional buttermilk.

Whichever substitute you choose, make sure to adjust your recipe as necessary to ensure that it comes out just right.

With the right ingredients, you can make delicious and creative dishes without needing to use any animal products at all.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Buttermilk

The 5 Best Substitutes for Buttermilk
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Milk + Lemon Juice
  • Milk + White Vinegar
  • Yogurt + Milk
  • Kefir
  • Sour Cream and Water or Milk


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.

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