Buttermilk Substitute
~ 4 Easy Ways In a Pinch ~

Buttermilk is an ingredient found in many recipes.  But one that may not be in your fridge or pantry.  So what to do when you're about to make, or worse yet you're in the midst of making, a recipe that calls for buttermilk? 

Use a buttermilk substitute.  One that's fast, easy and in your kitchen.

Buttermilk Substitute

 These 4 substitutes work equally well in:

  • baking
  • dressings, dips and other fresh food

When buttermilk is used in baking, the buttermilk, along with baking soda, is the leavening agent.  All this means is the cake, biscuits and pancakes rise because of the chemical reaction between buttermilk (acidic) and baking soda (basic).

By substituting another acidified dairy product, the same chemical reaction will still take place.  It'll act as a leavening agent the same way as buttermilk.

If you want the benefit of probiotic bacteria, use another cultured dairy product rather than soured milk (non-probiotic).  For baking or cooking, it makes no difference.  The bacteria are killed when heated.

1.  Soured Milk (Acidified Buttermilk)

This is commonly called a buttermilk substitute. Milk is soured by adding an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar.  Here's how...


  • 1 cup milk 250 ml
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh or bottled, or vinegar 15 ml


Stir lemon juice or vinegar in milk.  Let sit 5 to 10 minutes until milk curdles. Use in place of buttermilk.

Fresh Lemons

Fermented dairy products also work as buttermilk substitutes.  Many times I've used yogurt, sour cream and kefir in place of buttermilk.  Heck, you can even use Greek yogurt.  In terms of consistency, kefir is the closest to buttermilk.

Homemade Cultured Buttermilk

Homemade Cultured Buttermilk

Homemade Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Homemade Greek Yogurt

2.  Yogurt and Greek Yogurt

  •  1 cup (250 ml) plain yogurt = 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk

When yogurt (without stabilizers) is stirred it becomes liquid.  If you want a thinner consistency:

  • 3/4 cup (185 ml) plain yogurt + 1/4 cup (60 ml) water = 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) plain Greek yogurt + 1/2 cup (125 ml) water = 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk.  Blend until smooth.

Flavored yogurt will work too, if that's all you have.  The only consideration is flavor.  You be the judge.

3.  Kefir

You may never have heard of kefir, let alone have it in your fridge.  But for those of you that do, kefir makes a superb substitute for buttermilk. Especially in dressings and dips.

  • 1 cup (250 ml) kefir = 1 cup buttermilk

Kefir and Kefir Grains

About Kefir

Homemade Sour Cream

Homemade Sour Cream

Buttermilk Recipes

Buttermilk Recipes

4.  Sour Cream

  • 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk = 1/2 cup (125 ml) sour cream + 1/2 cup (125 ml) water, blend until smooth

Recipes Using Buttermilk

Time to add new dishes to your repertoire?  Check out these delicious buttermilk recipes:

Buttermilk Cornbread

Cornbread Recipe

Southern Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue Cheese Dressing

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Yogurt Homemade
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