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Buttermilk is crucial in classic recipes like ranch dressing, fried chicken, and pancakes, but almost no one has it when they need it. Here’s how to make buttermilk at home with just two ingredients and 10 minutes.

Someone spooning buttermilk out of a small clear bowl.

Buttermilk lends all sorts of benefits in cooking: more tender, juicier meats, lighter, fluffier baked goods and breakfast foods, and sharp, flavorful sides and sauces.

The trouble is, I never have it on hand. And I’m reluctant to buy it because I just know I’ll never use it all up. Buying a carton of buttermilk at the store is an exercise in optimism, but deep down I fear some of it will get thrown away.

The solution is simple, budget-friendly, and waste-conscious: make your own buttermilk. If you have milk and an acid and just 10 minutes, you can make the buttermilk you need and move on with your life. What a relief.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. How to Make Buttermilk Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Ingredients to make homemade buttermilk.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Milk: To make dairy-free buttermilk, substitute an equal amount of almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or soy milk.
  • Lemon juice: Or substitute lime juice, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. For every 1 cup of whole or 2% milk, stir in 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or vinegar.
Someone adding lemon juice to milk to create buttermilk.
  1. Let stand for 10 minutes to thicken.
Someone spooning buttermilk out of a small clear bowl.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 1 cup of buttermilk.
  • Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Stir or shake to recombine before using.
  • Make buttermilk with yogurt: Combine ¾ cup plain yogurt with ¼ cup milk.
  • Make buttermilk with cream of tartar: Stir together 1 cup of whole or 2% milk and 1 ¾ 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. Then, add the rest of the milk.
  • Buttermilk batter: Fried chicken, chicken fried steak, and fried green tomatoes are all better with buttermilk.
  • Salad dressing: Ranch dressing and blue cheese dressing get their delicious tang and creaminess from buttermilk.
  • Irish soda bread: The acid in buttermilk mixed with baking soda makes this bread rise.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Tall and fluffy, light and airy, these Buttermilk Biscuits are peak brunch fare. Serve with with sausage gravy, with scrambled eggs and cheese, or with a slather of jam. There’s no wrong way to biscuit…

40 minutes
View Recipe

Recipes with buttermilk

Someone scooping a spoonful of buttermilk out of a small glass bowl.

How to Make Buttermilk

Buttermilk is crucial in classic recipes like ranch dressing, fried chicken, and pancakes, but almost no one has it when they need it! Here’s how to make buttermilk at home with just two ingredients and 10 minutes.
5 from 4 votes
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 4 servings (¼ cup each)
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Calories 38

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup whole milk or 2% (see note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (see note 2)

Instructions 

  • For every 1 cup of whole or 2% milk, stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes to thicken.

Notes

  1. Milk: To make dairy-free buttermilk, substitute an equal amount of almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or soy milk.
  2. Lemon juice: Or substitute lime juice, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
  3. Yield: This recipe makes about 1 cup of buttermilk.
  4. Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Stir or shake to recombine before using.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cupCalories: 38kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 2gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 26mgPotassium: 84mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 99IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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