8 Best Buttermilk Substitutes

Need a last-minute buttermilk substitute? These best eight ingredient alternatives will get you out of trouble.

Best Buttermilk Substitutes

Buttermilk can be used for many things, but it is most often used in baking. It forms the base of sour cream and makes an excellent substitute for whipping cream in recipes like fried chicken.

But what if you don’t have any in your kitchen? Here are the eight best buttermilk alternatives for your next recipe.

What is buttermilk?

Buttermilk is the good stuff left after making butter. In the past, buttermilk would have cultures due to being at room temperature after the churning of the butter. This would characterize buttermilk as we know it. However, buttermilk is no longer necessarily made this way. It is made by introducing cultures into fresh and pasteurized milk.

The presence of cultures is what makes buttermilk what it is. These cultures give it a unique taste and help preserve it longer than fresh milk. Buttermilk has a rich and creamy texture. It is often compared to natural yogurt and kefir. Even though buttermilk is now made by introducing cultures rather than letting them form naturally at room temperature, the result is still the same.

Since it is fermented milk, buttermilk has a slightly tangy and sour taste. When it is homemade, the tangy taste is even more intense. The taste may differ from store-bought versions. It’s a common misconception to think that buttermilk tastes like milk. It has many health benefits, but buttermilk’s taste is not for everyone. It takes some getting used to. It also has many different uses, such as being used to add moisture when baking.

Need a last-minute buttermilk substitute because you don’t have any in your kitchen? Well, here are eight ingredient alternatives that are the best for when you’re in trouble! 

Lemon juice with milk

You can use lemon juice with milk in place of buttermilk. It has that similar sour and tangy taste. When you substitute buttermilk with lemon, you keep the taste that buttermilk would have been adding to your recipe.

To substitute 1 cup of buttermilk, mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and in a cup of milk. This way, you get the creamy texture but also a kick from the lemon juice. The lemon juice can be freshly squeezed or store-bought.

White Vinegar with Milk

White vinegar is another excellent substitute for buttermilk. White vinegar is a common household item that usually consists of around 4% to 7% of acetic acid and around 93% water. It has many uses around the home, including being a good substitute for buttermilk.

The vinegar helps you attain the same level of acidity that you would normally get from the buttermilk. White vinegar works well because it is not overpowering and is more neutral than other types of vinegar.

To substitute 1 cup of buttermilk, use 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 cup of milk. Mix well, and then it can be used as a creamy tart substitute.

Cream of Tatar with Milk

You could also use cream of tartar and milk as a substitute. Cream of tartar is a powder that is derived from fermenting grapes. As such, it has an acidic and tart taste. You will often find it in the spice aisle, and you can use it in many recipes. It can also be used as a stabilization agent in baking, calming down air bubbles as you whisk.

As a substitute for buttermilk, you can use a mixture of cream of tartar and milk. You will mix 1 ¾ teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1 cup of milk. However, you may find that the cream of tartar becomes lumpy when mixed with milk.

You can avoid that by mixing it with other dry ingredients then adding milk at a later stage.

Sour Cream with Milk or Water

Sour cream is a dairy product that gets its sour taste from being fermented. Lactic acid is added to the cream to make it. It has a thicker consistency than buttermilk, something to take into consideration when using it as a substitute.

To bring it closer to home, you can use milk or water so that the consistencies match, especially if your recipe heavily relies on this.

Due to its sour taste, it makes a great substitute for buttermilk. To substitute 1 cup of buttermilk, use ¾ of a cup of sour cream mixed with ¼ of a cup of milk or water.

Tofu, Water, and Acid

While tofu may not be very popular with meat-eaters, it is quite the staple on a lot of vegetarian menus. This might be because it is versatile and easily resembles meat dishes. It is condensed soy milk that has several health benefits. It can be cut up and used in various recipes.

To use it as a substitute, you will need to mix mashed-up or pureed tofu, ¾ of a cup of water, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar for the tart taste.

Unsweetened Soy Milk and Acid

Soy milk is non-dairy, and as such, it makes a good substitute for vegans and those who can’t have dairy. Soy milk is made of soybeans, filtered water, and other ingredients. The great thing about soy milk is that it is cholesterol-free. It is also low in saturated fat.

If you are watching your calorie intake, this is a good option for you. You can even make your own with a soy milk maker.

To substitute buttermilk with unsweetened soy milk and acid, use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to add the acidic taste and then add 1 cup of soy milk.

Unsweetened Coconut Milk and Acid

Another great substitute for buttermilk would be unsweetened coconut milk and an acid, which is necessary to add a tart and sour taste.

To substitute buttermilk, mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk. Using this substitute means you won’t need to do much to match consistencies. Coconut milk and buttermilk have a similar texture.

Unsweetened Cashew Milk and Acid

Cashew milk is a great, non-dairy option that is made from cashew nuts and water and is rich in nutrients. It has been known to be an excellent replacement for cow’s milk. It also has health benefits, such as boosting immunity.

To use unsweetened cashew milk and acid in place of buttermilk, use 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, along with 1 cup of cashew milk.

Make sure it is mixed well, then it can be used in recipes that call for buttermilk.