Buttermilk 101: Everything You Need to Know about Making Your Own

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a recipe only to realize that you don’t have any buttermilk on hand? Don’t worry – you can easily make your own buttermilk right in the comfort of your own kitchen. In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about making your own buttermilk, from understanding what it is and why it’s used in recipes to step-by-step instructions on how to make it yourself. Let’s dive in.

What is Buttermilk and Why Use It?

When we hear the word “buttermilk,” many of us might think of a tangy and creamy liquid used in baking and cooking. But what exactly is buttermilk? Traditionally, it is the liquid left over after churning butter from cream. However, the buttermilk commonly available today is usually made by adding lactic acid bacteria cultures to milk.

Buttermilk serves multiple purposes in recipes. Firstly, its acidity helps tenderize baked goods like cakes, muffins, and pancakes by reacting with baking soda or baking powder. This reaction creates carbon dioxide bubbles that give these treats their light and fluffy texture. Secondly, buttermilk adds a unique tanginess to dishes like salad dressings or marinades, enhancing their flavor profile.

How to Make Buttermilk at Home

Now that we understand what buttermilk is and why it’s used let’s learn how to make it at home. The good news is that making your own buttermilk requires just two simple ingredients – milk and an acidic agent such as lemon juice or vinegar.

To start, pour one cup of milk into a measuring cup or bowl. Next, add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into the milk. Stir gently for a few seconds until well combined.

Once the milk and acid are mixed, let the mixture sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. During this time, the acid will start to react with the milk, thickening it and giving it a tangy flavor similar to store-bought buttermilk.

Substitutes for Buttermilk

If you find yourself without any milk on hand or prefer a non-dairy option, fear not. There are several substitutes you can use in place of buttermilk.

One common substitute is plain yogurt. Use an equal amount of yogurt as you would buttermilk in your recipe. The acidity and consistency of yogurt make it an excellent alternative.

Another substitute is sour cream. Like yogurt, sour cream provides the necessary acidity and creaminess needed in recipes that call for buttermilk. Use the same amount of sour cream as you would buttermilk in your recipe.

Lastly, if you have neither yogurt nor sour cream available, you can create a makeshift buttermilk by using regular milk combined with lemon juice or vinegar – just like we discussed earlier.

Storing Homemade Buttermilk

Once you’ve made your own buttermilk, you may wonder how to store any leftovers. Homemade buttermilk can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. However, keep in mind that its flavor may become more pronounced over time.

If you don’t think you’ll use all of your homemade buttermilk before it spoils, consider freezing it for future use. Pour the leftover buttermilk into ice cube trays or small freezer-safe containers and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the cubes or portions into a ziplock bag or another airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to three months.


Making your own buttermilk is not only easy and cost-effective; it also allows you to have this versatile ingredient on hand whenever you need it. Whether you’re baking a batch of fluffy pancakes or preparing a savory marinade, homemade buttermilk will add that extra touch to your recipes. So, the next time you find yourself without buttermilk, remember these simple steps to make your own and enjoy the tangy goodness it brings to your dishes.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.