In most cases, any dairy product will or can serve as the base for buttermilk substitutes. Heavy cream is actually my favorite base dairy product when making my buttermilk at home.
I find the creamy texture with the tangy flavor is best achieved with my heavy cream and lemon juice method. Since I almost always have heavy cream and lemons on hand, this works wonders for all my baking needs!
But I think most would almost always have milk on hand. In that case, picking up a box of powdered buttermilk from the baking aisle at your local grocery store would be ideal if you like the taste of buttermilk without having to always keep it stocked at home.
HOW TO MAKE A BUTTERMILK SUBSTITUTE
The first three options below are all ‘sour milk’ versions where acid is added to the milk to create the tart flavor of buttermilk. These acids work to convert the lactose sugars in milk into lactic acid, which is the signature buttermilk flavor we know and love!
If your recipe (and most do) calls for whole buttermilk, your best results will come from using higher fat substitute ingredients. Full-fat whole milk, heavy whipping cream, full-fat yogurt, full-fat sour cream, and whole-milk Greek yogurt are recommended.
1. LEMON JUICE AND MILK (CURD)
Measure 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup. Add whole milk (or heavy whipping cream for best results, but 2% milk will also work) to complete the total one-cup measurement.
Mix thoroughly, and let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to “sour” or “curd”.
*Fresh lemon juice and bottled lemon juice will work to make this buttermilk substitution.
* Lactose-free milk can be used with these same measures. The results will be slightly sweeter than typical buttermilk.
2. WHITE VINEGAR AND MILK (SOUR MILK)
Measure 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add whole milk (or heavy whipping cream for best results, but 2% milk will also work) to complete the total one-cup measurement.
Mix thoroughly, and let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to “sour” or “curd”.
3. MILK AND CREAM OF TARTAR (SOUR MILK)
Use 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, added directly to the dry ingredients in your recipe (because cream of tartar clumps when added to liquids) with every 1 cup of milk (whole or 2% milk).
If you have enough time, you can also shake the cream of tartar and milk mixture until the cream of tartar dissolves completely.
4. YOGOURT NATURE
Plain yogurt can be substituted for buttermilk in a 1:1 ratio, depending on your recipe. If you need more humidity, see the measurements below.
Use ¾ cup of plain yogurt combined with ¼ cup of whole milk or 2% milk. Blend until smooth.
In general, with the yogurt or Greek yogurt below, you want to add enough milk (or even water) until it reaches a thick cream consistency.
CAN I USE GREEK YOGURT INSTEAD OF BUTTERMILK?
Yes! But not in the same 1:1 ratio for replacement as plain yogurt (Above). To make a buttermilk substitute using Greek yogurt, you will need to mix ¾ cup of Greek yogurt with ¼ cup of milk.
OR use this Greek yogurt substitution with equal amounts of Greek yogurt and milk. It will depend on your recipe and how much moisture you need!
5. BUTTERMILK POWDER AND WATER
Use ¼ cup powdered buttermilk combined with 1 cup water. Blend until smooth.
6. SOUR CREAM AND MILK
Use ¾ cup sour cream combined with ¼ cup whole milk, 2% milk, skim milk, or water. Blend until smooth.
Light or full sour cream should be used for this buttermilk substitution. Fat-free sour cream will not give the expected results.
Kefir is like a liquid yogurt drink and is an exceptional buttermilk substitute. Use plain, unsweetened kefir to replace buttermilk in a 1:1 ratio.
DAIRY-FREE BUTTERMILK SUBSTITUTES
Here are some great dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, and vegan-friendly buttermilk substitutes! Almond milk is a personal favorite, but all turn out wonderfully!
8. UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK
Measure 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into a liquid measuring cup, then add unsweetened almond milk for 1 cup of buttermilk substitute total.
Unsweetened almond milk combined with lemon juice will replicate the flavor of buttermilk, but not the consistency. If you need a thickened buttermilk substitute, check out the coconut milk, soy milk, or tofu versions below.
9. COCONUT MILK
Measure 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup, then top up with coconut milk for 1 cup of total buttermilk substitute. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 10 minutes until it “soured” or “curdled”.
10. SOY MILK
Measure 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup, then add soy milk for 1 cup of buttermilk substitute total. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 10 minutes until it “breaks down” or “curds”.
11. SILKEN TOFU
Use pureed silken tofu combined with ½ cup water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth and use in a 1:1 ratio as a buttermilk substitute.
PRO TIP: STORING BUTTERMILK POWDER
Open cans of powdered buttermilk dry out and clump, making it difficult to use if stored in the cupboard or pantry. Keep your powdered buttermilk in the fridge and it will be perfectly retrievable when you need it!
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from pexels