May 8, 2022

How to Make Buttermilk

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
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If you have ever wondered how to make buttermilk from scratch, get ready to learn about the process, vegan substitutions, recipes that use it, and more.

It's only two ingredients and once you know how to make this popular recipe ingredient, you will never have to purchase it again!

buttermilk in a tin box

How many times have you been preparing to bake and realized the recipe called for buttermilk? Chances are, you do not have it or if you do, it's expired because most recipes only require a little bit.

Instead of running to the grocery store for that one ingredient, you can just make homemade buttermilk! This how-to guide for making buttermilk proves how quick and easy the process is.

buttermilk in a glass bottle

What is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product.

Although from its name you would assume that buttermilk has a buttery taste and is high-fat, it is actually neither. In fact, “butter” refers to the remaining liquid after butter is churned. Traditionally, that is how buttermilk used to be prepared. However, in modern times, buttermilk has nothing to do with butter.

Today, the buttermilk commonly found in North American grocery stores is cultured, which simply means it has been fermented with lactic acid bacteria.

In even simpler terms: Milk + Acid = Buttermilk

a work surface with flour in a bowl and buttermilk

What does it taste like?

Adding lactic acid to milk results in curdled milk with an extended shelf life. Buttermilk is thicker than milk but thinner than yogurt. The flavor profile is similar to plain yogurt or sour cream. It has a tangy acidic taste and a creamy consistency that makes it an essential baking ingredient and ideal for batters used for frying food.

Why use buttermilk instead of regular milk?

Besides the taste, buttermilk contains acid which reacts with baking soda and baking powder. That reaction results in baked goods rising and being the fluffy, moist texture we all love.

batter mixed together in a bowl

Ingredients

With just two ingredients, this DIY recipe is so simple!

  • Milk: Heavy cream, nonfat, 1 %, 2%... Any kind of milk will work but I use whole milk. Just make sure the milk is at room temperature before preparing.
  • White vinegar OR lemon juice: Using either of these will yield similar results. Although I prefer white vinegar, any neutral flavored vinegar will work. Some other suggestions are apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar. If you use lemon juice, make sure it is freshly squeezed.

Making Buttermilk

Mix 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of either vinegar or lemon juice. Then, let it sit for 15 minutes so that it can curdle.

You will know it's ready when it appears to be slightly separated with light curdling. It doesn't get easier than that!

pouring milk into a glass bottle

How to Make Vegan Buttermilk

If you need to make a dairy-free alternative, simply swap out cow's milk for a non-dairy option. The "milk" will react the same way once combined with an acid. Here are my suggestions for vegan buttermilk:

  • Coconut milk
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Oat milk

More Substitutions

If you need don't have the ingredients listed above, here are some alternatives to produce one cup of buttermilk:

  • Use one cup of your preferred milk with 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar. Start by mixing the cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons of milk to create a paste before adding the rest of the milk.
  • Combine ¾ cup of plain yogurt with ¼ cup of milk.

How long does it last?

Buttermilk lasts up to a week in the fridge. When you are ready to reuse, just stir it to recombine.

Can you freeze buttermilk?

Yes! Surprisingly, it freezes well. When properly sealed and stored, it can last up to 3 months in the freezer.

Pro Tip: Use an ice cube tray to freeze 1 tablespoon portions. Then you can just pop one out when you need a small amount.

pouring buttermilk into a mixing bowl filled with flour

How to Use Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a versatile ingredient that works in both sweet and savory recipes. Here are some delicious ways to use it:

  • Salad Dressing: A tangy, creamy dressing like ranch or blue cheese definitely benefits from this inclusion. Dressing made fresh is impeccable!
  • Baking: Everything from muffins to cake to cornbread is made better with this addition.
  • Pancakes: They will be extra fluffy!
  • Frying: Southern, homestyle cooking is synonymous with buttermilk. Make a batter and you can fry chicken, green tomatoes, okra, and more!
  • Mashed Potatoes: This adds a creamy, tangy depth to a bowl of mashed potatoes.
  • Ice Cream: Adding this to homemade ice cream makes for a rich dessert.

Recipes with Buttermilk

Here are some of my tried and true recipes that incorporate it:

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buttermilk in a tin box

How to Make Buttermilk

If you have ever wondered how to make buttermilk, get ready to learn about the process, vegan substitutions, recipes that use it, and more. Once you know how to make this popular recipe ingredient, you will never have to purchase it again!
Serving: 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Calories: 149kcal

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl or dairy bottle
  • measuring cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 tbsp White Vinegar or Lemon Juice OR 2 tsp Cream of Tartar

Directions

  • Simply mix the ingredients together and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Notes

Buttermilk can be refrigerated for up to 7 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.

Nutrition

Calories: 149kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 93mg | Potassium: 366mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Calcium: 301mg
Course: baking, misc
Cuisine: American
Keyword buttermilk, buttermilk from scratch, homemade buttermilk, how to, how to make buttermilk

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