How to Make a Buttermilk Substitute

No need to run to the store. These common ingredients can pinch hit for the real stuff.

We all know buttermilk is the key to making biscuits, pancakes and muffins extra fluffy and delicious. Unfortunately, buttermilk isn't a staple item like it used to be, and no one wants to buy a whole quart just for the half cup called for in a recipe. Enter buttermilk substitutes: These easy ideas will save you a trip to the store.

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1 Try Lemon

Buttermilk has an acidic pH that is pivotal to the leavening action in quick breads. By adding a small amount of lemon juice to regular milk, you'll be able to achieve the same leavening action and the characteristically tart flavor of buttermilk. One tablespoon of lemon juice added to 1 cup of milk will do the trick. Higher fat content milk (2 percent or higher) provides a flavor and texture most like buttermilk.


2 Vinegar

If lemon juice isn't available, vinegar can also be used to acidify the milk. White, apple cider and rice vinegars work best because of their light, unobtrusive flavor. The ratio is the same: 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of milk.

3 Yogurt or Sour Cream

Like buttermilk, yogurt is a cultured milk product with an acidic pH. Because yogurt is much thicker than buttermilk, it can be thinned out with regular milk to make an excellent buttermilk substitute. Simply add 1/2 cup yogurt to 1/2 cup milk (2 percent fat or higher) and whisk until smooth. 

Sour cream, another cultured milk product, can be used in the same manner. Whisk together 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup milk until smooth, then use to replace buttermilk in any recipe.

4 Enjoy

Now the power of fluffy, rich and delicious baked goods is in your hands, even when real buttermilk isn't.

Want to make *real* buttermilk? We've got a how to for that too, find it here

Find more helpful how-tos here »

Plus: Get the full recipe for the lemon buttermilk substitute » 

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About Budget Bytes

Beth from Budget Bytes is a food lover and a number cruncher who dishes up healthy recipes on her blog that won't put a huge dent in your wallet. She is the author of the cookbook, Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half, and she also works as a microbiologist in a hospital laboratory. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.