Buttermilk is the not-so-secret ingredient in the best pancakes, ranch dressing, and fried chicken in the world, but almost no one has it when they need it. Fear not! Here’s how to make buttermilk at home using only two ingredients.
What is buttermilk?Years ago, the residual liquid left over from churning butter out of cultured cream was called buttermilk. It was full of naturally occurring lactic acid, which fermented the buttermilk and gave it a longer shelf life.Today, though, most all of the buttermilk you see is the cultured variety, commercially made by introducing lactic-acid producing bacteria into pasteurized and homogenized milk.And buttermilk is good for you! One cup of buttermilk contains 99 calories and 2.2 grams of fat. By comparison, one cup of whole milk contains 157 calories and 8.9 grams of fat. Buttermilk contains vitamins, potassium, calcium, and trace amounts of phosphorus.Some people swear by buttermilk to prevent aging, and this may have something to do with beneficial flora that buttermilk and kefir, another drinkable fermented dairy product, provide.It’s not as popular today as an actual beverage, but it is indispensable in baking, salad dressings, marinades, batters, and breads.
Why is buttermilk so important?Not only does buttermilk taste fabulous, lending an important flavor component, acid, to food, it works magic at the chemical level, too.When combined with baking soda, buttermilk gives baked treats a light and tender crumb. Buttermilk’s acidity neutralizes the metallic taste of baking soda, too. In fact, it’s why Irish Soda Bread is so delicious!
How to make buttermilk:These genius techniques make acidified buttermilk, a type of clabbered milk that works well as a substitute for actual cultured buttermilk. Use the thickened milk — curds and all — just as you would buttermilk in your recipe. It's great for pancakes, salad dressing, fried chicken, coleslaw and more!How to make buttermilk with lemon juice:This is the most popular way to make buttermilk; almost everyone has lemons and milk! For every 1 cup of whole or 2% milk, stir in 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. How to make buttermilk with vinegar:For every 1 cup of whole or 2% milk, stir in 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.How to make buttermilk with cream of tartar:Cream of tartar is an acid and will simulate the acidic environment of buttermilk in a pinch.Stir together 1 cup of whole or 2% milk and 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. First, mix the cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons of milk to form a loose paste; this keeps the cream of tartar from forming lumps. Once mixed add the rest of the cup of milk.How to make buttermilk with yogurt:If you have milk and yogurt, you can combine them to make an acceptable buttermilk substitute.Stir 1/4 cup milk into 3/4 cup plain yogurt to create a nicely thick buttermilk substitute.How to make buttermilk alternative with almond milk:This recipe also works well with soy-based products.Mix 1/4 cup almond milk into 3/4 cup almond milk yogurt. Add a splash (about 1/2 teaspoon) vinegar to the mixture and stir well.
- For marinades: Buttermilk Fried Chicken or Chicken Fried Steak become mouthwatering when soaked in buttermilk batter.
- In salad dressings: ranch lovers, you know who you are! Here’s a Homemade Ranch Dressing that will knock your socks off! Buttermilk also makes the best blue cheese dressing in the world. You'll never go back to the bottled stuff.
- Homemade bread: wait,can you hear that? Traditional Irish Soda Bread is calling your name.
- In pancakes and waffles: pancakes and waffles become Buttermilk Pancakes and Buttermilk Waffles when made with buttermilk instead of milk.
- Buttermilk biscuits: Made from scratch buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy, yes please!
What to do with leftover buttermilk:
- Make chilled soup: purée cucumbers or roasted beets with leftover buttermilk and some fresh dill for a light and delicious summer soup.
- Add to whipped cream: make a tangy version of whipped cream that would be outstanding on slices of Easy Pound Cake. Add a healthy splash to already whipped cream and whisk until stiff.
- Smoothies: buttermilk is lower in fat and calories than whole milk, so throw it into a blender with berries and a banana.
- Quiche: use buttermilk in place of milk in any quiche recipe—even Mini Quiches.
How to Make Buttermilk
- 1 cup whole milk or 2%
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
How to make buttermilk with lemon juice:
- For every 1 cup of whole or 2% milk, stir in 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
- Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
How to make buttermilk with vinegar:
- For every 1 cup of whole or 2% milk, stir in 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
- Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
How to make buttermilk with cream of tartar:
- Stir together 1 cup of whole or 2% milk and 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.
- Then, mix the cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons of milk to form a loose paste; this keeps the cream of tartar from forming lumps.
- Once mixed add the rest of the cup of milk.
How to make buttermilk with yogurt:
- Stir 1/4 cup milk into 3/4 cup plain yogurt to create a nicely thick buttermilk substitute.
How to make buttermilk alternative with almond milk:
- Mix 1/4 cup almond milk into 3/4 cup almond milk yogurt. Add a splash (about 1/2 teaspoon) vinegar to the mixture and stir well.