Buttermilk is a versatile ingredient that can add tanginess, richness and moisture to your baked goods.
But what if you don’t have any in your fridge? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with 12 best substitutes for buttermilk that you can use in your recipes.
You’ll find them displayed in card styles below, with images and brief text to explain each one. You can also click on the “Get full recipe” button on each card to go to the full page of each substitute, where you’ll learn why it works and how to use it.
Plus, we’ll also show you how to make your own buttermilk at home with just two ingredients.
12 Best Substitutes For Buttermilk
Milk + Lemon Juice
This substitute is great for making scones, soda bread or pancakes as the lemon juice recreates that similar tangy flavor of buttermilk.
Mix whole or semi-skimmed milk and lemon juice in a jug or bowl and leave at room temperature until the milk has thickened slightly.
Whole Milk + White Vinegar
Similar to the milk and lemon juice combination, milk and vinegar can also be used to mimic the acidic properties of buttermilk.
Combine whole milk and distilled white vinegar and use that as a substitute for buttermilk.
Plain Yogurt and Milk
You can use plain yogurt as a substitute for buttermilk because it has a similar thick texture and tangy, acidic taste. Plain yogurt can be used as it is for buttermilk, but for some recipes that need a thinner consistency (like cake batter), you may want to add some milk or water to it.
Mix plain yogurt and milk or water and use that as a substitute.
Sour Cream Thinned with Water
Regular sour cream works well in recipes that call for a thicker consistency, though you can thin it down with water or milk to achieve the desired texture.
Whisk together soured cream and milk or water.
Cultured Buttermilk Powder
Cultured buttermilk powder is a handy pantry staple that can save you from running out of buttermilk. It is a dried and powdered form of buttermilk that you can rehydrate with water by following the directions on the package.
Mix cultured buttermilk powder and water together briskly so that the powder combines properly, then allow enough time for it to rehydrate following pack instructions.
Plain, Unflavoured Kefir
Plain kefir is a fermented milk product that has a tangy taste similar to buttermilk. It is unflavoured and made by lactic fermentation.
Replace buttermilk for kefir as it has a similar runny consistency.
Cream of Tartar + Milk
Cream of tartar, or potassium bitartrate, is a fine white powder that comes from making wine. It is an acidic substance that you can mix with milk to make a buttermilk substitute. It has no flavor of its own.
Stir cream of tartar with milk in a liquid measuring cup and use as a substitute.
Whole-Milk Greek Yogurt
Thinned with Milk For pancakes and waffles
For each cup of buttermilk, combine 3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) plain whole-milk Greek yogurt with 6 ounces (3/4 cup) 1% milk.
Whole-Milk Regular Yogurt Thinned with Water
Best for baking applications.
To substitute for buttermilk, mix water with whole-milk yogurt to thin it out. A common ratio is three parts yogurt to one part water
Vegan Sour Cream and Water
Vegan sour cream thinned with water can serve as a plant-based substitute for buttermilk in recipes. Vegan sour cream is typically made from non-dairy ingredients like soy, cashews, or coconut milk, combined with acidifiers to mimic the tangy taste and creamy texture of traditional sour cream.
Add water to vegan sour cream and use as a replacement for buttermilk
Unsweetened Soy Milk + Acid
Unsweetened soy milk combined with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar is a common vegan substitute for buttermilk. This mixture can be used in baking and cooking as a dairy-free, lactose-free alternative.
Add lemon juice or vinegar to a measuring cup, followed by the soy milk.
Unsweetened Almond Milk, Coconut Milk or Cashew Milk + Acid
Unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, or cashew milk combined with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar can be used as a buttermilk substitute, especially in vegan and dairy-free cooking and baking.
Add vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup then add the unsweetened milk to the acid and stir.