Homemade Buttermilk Recipe

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Learn how to make buttermilk from milk two ways! Forget to add it to your shopping list? Just need a small amount? I’ve got you covered with simple methods for homemade buttermilk, using simple ingredients you probably have on hand! 

A glass of milk and a small glass jar of lemon juice to make buttermilk.

What Is Buttermilk, Anyway? 

Buttermilk is fermented milk. It’s thicker and lumpier than milk and has an acidic, tangy smell similar to vinegar. 

Common in baking recipes, buttermilk adds a subtle tang to recipes and creates a tender texture in breads and cakes. It also reacts chemically when combined with baking soda, helps making baked goods rise as they bake. 

How Do You Turn Milk Into Buttermilk? 

Learning how to make buttermilk from milk is a lot easier than you might think! All you need are two simple ingredients and a few minutes of prep time. 

A spoon with lemon juice near a measuring cup of milk.

Ingredients

  • Milk – Use any milk you have on hand including skim milk, whole milk, or two percent milk. 
  • Acid – I use freshly squeezed lemon juice or white vinegar to ferment the milk. 

How to Make Buttermilk with Vinegar

  1. Add one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. 
  2. Pour one cup of milk into the cup. 
  3. Whisk to combine. 
  4. Set the mixture aside for about ten minutes or until the mix begins to curdle. 
Lemon juice being poured into a measuring cup of milk.

How to Make Buttermilk with Lemon Juice

  1. Pour one tablespoon of white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup
  2. Add one cup of milk. 
  3. Whisk to combine. 
  4. Set the mixture aside for ten minutes or until the milk begins to curdle. 

Note: Homemade buttermilk does not have a thick, lumpy appearance like store-bought buttermilk. You might not see a whole lot of change in its appearance, but trust me! The process works.

Helpful Measurements

In a perfect world, recipes always call for even measurements. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. So, to help make cooking easy, I’m providing my go-to measurements below. 

  • ¼ cup buttermilk = ¾ teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar + ¼ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk = 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar + ⅓ cup milk
  • ½ cup buttermilk = 1½ teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar + ½ cup milk 
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk = 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar + ⅔ cup milk 
  • ¾ cup buttermilk = 2¼ teaspoons lemon or vinegar + ¾ cup milk 
A woman's hands using a spoon to stir lemon juice into milk for buttermilk.

Buttermilk Substitutions

Don’t have the ingredients to make homemade buttermilk or just prefer to use something else? Try out some of my favorite swaps below! 

Use the following swaps for one cup of buttermilk: 

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar and 1 cup milk 
  • ¾ cup sour cream and ¼ cup water or milk
  • 1 cup plain kefir

Common Questions When Learning How to Make Buttermilk from Milk

What happens if you use regular milk instead of buttermilk? 

Regular milk will cause your baked goods to become dense and watery, and they won’t have the tangy taste we want with buttermilk. 

Can you freeze buttermilk? 

Yes! Stored in an airtight container, you can freeze buttermilk for up to three months. I like to pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it before transferring it to a sealable bag. Then, you have easy-to-use portions ready to thaw and use! 

Is it better to use lemon juice or vinegar to make buttermilk? 

One isn’t better than the other! Both methods work great. 

What is buttermilk used in? 

Buttermilk is a common ingredient used in a variety of recipes such as waffles, pancakes, biscuits, chicken breading, dressings, marinades, slaw, and desserts like red velvet cake mix cookies!  

A spoon with curds of buttermilk on it over the measuring cup of buttermilk.

How to Make Buttermilk from Milk

Learn how to make buttermilk from milk with vinegar or lemon juice to add tangy flavor and a tender texture to all your favorite recipes!
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade buttermilk, how to make buttermilk, how to make buttermilk from milk, how to make buttermilk with lemon juice, how to make buttermilk with vinegar
Servings: 1 cup
Calories:

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  • Add one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup.
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar
  • Pour one cup of milk into the cup.
    1 cup milk
  • Whisk to combine.
  • Set the mixture aside for about ten minutes or until the mix begins to curdle.

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