How to Make Buttermilk

Ever been partway through a recipe that calls for buttermilk and then realize to your horror, “I don’t have buttermilk”?! Been there! It is so easy to make buttermilk with regular milk. All you need is a little vinegar, or lemon juice to add to it. Buttermilk is a game changer. It makes the fluffiest pancakes and super moist baked goods!


What is buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a dairy product that is traditionally made as a byproduct of churning butter. It is a liquid left behind after the butter has been separated from the cream. Nowadays, it’s commonly produced by introducing specific bacteria to low-fat milk to ferment it, resulting in a characteristic tangy flavor and thicker consistency.

There are two main types of buttermilk:

  1. Traditional buttermilk: As mentioned earlier, this is the liquid remaining after butter is churned from cream. This type of buttermilk is relatively rare and can be difficult to find in stores. However, it is still used in some traditional recipes.
  2. Cultured buttermilk: This is the more common form of buttermilk available in stores today. It is made by adding lactic acid bacteria to low-fat or skim milk. The bacteria ferment the milk’s sugars, converting them into lactic acid, which gives the buttermilk its characteristic tangy flavor and slightly thicker texture. Cultured buttermilk is readily available in supermarkets and is often used in cooking and baking.

Why use buttermilk instead of regular milk?

You certainly don’t have to! But I highly recommend it because buttermilk adds depth and complexity to various dishes, particularly in baking, where it complements the sweetness of baked goods like pancakes, muffins, and cakes.

The acid in buttermilk helps to tenderize the gluten in flour, resulting in softer and more moist baked goods. This is especially useful when making biscuits and pancakes, as the acid in buttermilk helps to create a lighter and fluffier texture.

When combined with baking soda, the acid in buttermilk creates carbon dioxide gas, which helps baked goods rise. This can be particularly useful in recipes that don’t require baking powder or yeast as a leavening agent.

In savory dishes like marinades and dressings, the tangy flavor of buttermilk can enhance the taste of meats and salads, providing a pleasant contrast to other flavors.

I only have regular milk. Can I make buttermilk still?

Yes!!! I don’t purchase buttermilk from the store because it is so so easy to make my own!

Can you make buttermilk with almond milk?

Yes! You can use almond milk to make buttermilk. Use the same measurement as you would for dairy milk.

Can you make buttermilk with oat milk?

Yes! The same goes for oat milk–you can make your own vegan buttermilk using the same amount of oat milk as you would dairy milk and then add white vinegar or lemon juice.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Because it’s only two ingredients! It takes a minute to whip together, but it packs a flavorful and delicious punch to your baked goods. Totally worth it.

3 pieces of cornbread

One Bowl Buttermilk Cornbread

How to make buttermilk:

Let’s say you need one cup of buttermilk for a recipe.

I add two tablespoons of white vinegar to a measuring cup and then fill the rest of it up with milk until it measures one total cup.

You can also use the juice of a lemon (or bottled lemon juice, if you have that) by again measuring two tablespoons of lemon juice into a measuring cup and then filling the rest of it with milk until you get to one total cup.

Let the buttermilk sit out for 5 minutes. You’ll likely see it start to curdle–if so, GREAT! If not, rest easy knowing you still added the acidity the milk needed to replicate buttermilk.

That’s it. That’s how you make buttermilk!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Store Buttermilk?

If you purchased buttermilk from the store, follow the expiration date. If you made your own, buttermilk will last about 3 days in the fridge. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. However, note that its texture might change slightly after thawing. It is recommended to shake or whisk it after thawing to restore its original consistency.

Is Buttermilk Lactose-Free?

No, buttermilk is not lactose-free. It contains lactose, which is a natural sugar found in dairy products. Individuals with lactose intolerance should consume buttermilk with caution or seek lactose-free alternatives.

buttermilk substitute recipe


How to Make Buttermilk

This buttermilk recipe is so easy and comes together with just a couple of simple ingredients. Buttermilk makes the fluffiest pancakes and the moistest cakes and breads.
Prep Time5 minutes
Course: Baking
Yield: 1 cup
Author: Jamie


  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon less than a full cup of milk whole, skim, 2%, almond milk


  • Add two tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup
  • Add enough milk to the measuring cup to fill it to the one-cup line
  • Let sit for 5-10 minutes
  • Voila! You have buttermilk.


This recipe is for one cup of buttermilk. If your recipe requires more, add more vinegar or lemon juice (i.e., 2 cups buttermilk equals 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice, and then you will fill the milk until it reaches 2 cups worth).
You can store this buttermilk in the fridge for 3-4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

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