How to Make Buttermilk From Scratch

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Three simple ways you can make homemade buttermilk substitute at home so you’re never left without it!

If you’re ever making a recipe that calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any, rest assure, you can easily make your own. There are three different ways and all of them work perfect as a store-bought substitute.

It’s surprisingly easy to make and you only need two ingredients to make it!

buttermilk recipe with baking soda

Buttermilk is liquid leftover from a fermented dairy drink that’s made when cream is churned with a bacterial culture to ferment it. The result is solid butter with some liquid leftover.

In a recipe the lactic acid in buttermilk helps to retain moisture and tenderize gluten, allowing for a very moist cake. It also provides a slight tangy flavor and increases the rise in baked goods when used with baking soda.

How to Make Buttermilk

There are three ways to make to make buttermilk substitute. The basic formula is adding an acid like lemon juice, vinegar or cream of tartar to milk and then using it, as you would, in a recipe.

Lemon juice, vinegar and cream of tartar in small bowls.

Buttermilk With Vinegar

1 cup milk (whole or 2%) + 1 tablespoon vinegar.

Stir the ingredients together and then wait 5 minutes.

Adding a tablespoon of vinegar to milk to make buttermilk

Buttermilk with Lemon Juice

1 cup milk (whole or 2%) + 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Stir the ingredients together and then wait 5 minutes.

Milk and lemons on a table

Buttermilk with Cream of Tartar

1 cup milk (whole or 2%) + 2 teaspoon cream of tartar.

Whisk the cream of tartar immediately and vigorously for 1 minute until it dissolves. Then let the mix sit for 5 minutes before using it in your recipe.

Pouring buttermilk into a jar

Pour the liquid into a jar, with a lid, and leave it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days to use in your recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Drink Buttermilk Straight?

You sure can! It’s good for your skin and for your gut. However, the texture is a little thick and it doesn’t have the best taste.

Should It Be Thick?

It will be thicker than regular milk and maybe even a little clumpy. This is normal when the buttermilk is freshly concocted. Beware of when the consistency changes. 

Does Buttermilk Go Bad?

Yes, this dairy product will certainly go bad given enough time. Without refrigeration, that duration is considerably less. As mentioned, you’ll notice a change in consistency—along with the stench of rotten dairy—when good buttermilk goes bad.

What Is Buttermilk Used For?

Believe it or not, it’s commonly used in buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk biscuits, cakes, cupcakes and many more recipes. It’s used in a lot of recipes involving breading and batter.

Recipes That Use Buttermilk

Homemade Blueberry Muffins

The Best Birthday Day Cake Recipe

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

The Best Chocolate Devils Food Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake

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Homemade Buttermilk

The ultimate guide on how to make buttermilk. We're sharing three simple ways you can make it at home so you're never left without it.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Baking
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
10 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 152kcal
Author: Eden


Homemade Buttermilk

  • 1 cup milk, whole or 2%
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, or vinegar


  • Combine 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar and whisk.
    buttermilk with vinegar
  • Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes then it's ready to use in your recipe.


Use lemon juice or white vinegar for this recipe.
Buttermilk will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator. 


Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 105mg | Potassium: 338mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 396IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 277mg | Iron: 1mg
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4 thoughts on “How to Make Buttermilk From Scratch”

  1. This buttermilk is awesome and soo easy to make, specially love the buttermilk with lemon, i made this and its soo tasty. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    This was the best guide, the instructions were super clear and easy to follow, thank you I needed this somehow forgot to buy buttermilk!!

  3. 5 stars
    This is so useful! I never have buttermilk on hand, but I do usually have most of these ingredients on hand! Perfect for biscuits and pancakes!


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