5 Easy Buttermilk Substitutes for Your Baking Needs

Looking for easy buttermilk substitutes for your baking endeavors? Whether you’ve run out of buttermilk or need a dairy-free alternative, this article is here to provide you with simple and effective solutions. Buttermilk is a versatile ingredient in baking, known for its ability to tenderize and add moistness to a variety of recipes, from cakes and pancakes to biscuits and marinades. However, not everyone keeps buttermilk on hand, and some dietary restrictions may call for alternative options.

In this article, we will explore five easy buttermilk substitutes that you can readily use in your baking endeavors. These substitutes are not only convenient but also produce excellent results, ensuring that your baked goods turn out perfectly every time. Whether you’re looking for a quick fix or a dairy-free option, we’ve got you covered with these practical and delicious alternatives.

Quick Summary
You can substitute buttermilk by combining 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before using. Another option is to use 1 cup of plain yogurt thinned with a little water to achieve a similar consistency to buttermilk.


Yogurt is a versatile and readily available substitute for buttermilk in baking. Its creamy texture and tangy flavor make it an excellent stand-in for buttermilk in a variety of recipes. To use yogurt as a substitute, simply mix one cup of plain yogurt with one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to mimic the acidity of buttermilk. This mixture can then be used as a one-to-one replacement for buttermilk in recipes such as pancakes, waffles, cakes, and muffins.

Another benefit of using yogurt as a buttermilk substitute is its high protein content, which can help contribute to the structure and texture of baked goods. Additionally, yogurt adds a subtle tanginess that can enhance the overall flavor profile of the dish. For those seeking a healthier alternative, Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for buttermilk, providing the same tangy flavor and creamy texture with the added bonus of higher protein content and lower fat content. Overall, yogurt is a simple and effective buttermilk substitute that can be easily incorporated into a wide range of baking recipes.

Sour Cream

Sour cream is a versatile and tangy alternative to buttermilk in baking. It offers a rich and thick texture that can enhance the moisture and tenderness of baked goods. When used as a substitute for buttermilk, sour cream adds a distinct tanginess and a creamy consistency to the final product.

To replace buttermilk with sour cream, simply mix ¾ cup of sour cream with ¼ cup of water to achieve a similar consistency to buttermilk. This easy substitution works well in recipes such as pancakes, muffins, and cakes, providing a delicious and slightly tangy flavor profile. Additionally, sour cream contains a slightly higher fat content than buttermilk, contributing to a richer and more indulgent texture in baked goods.

One of the advantages of using sour cream as a buttermilk substitute is its availability in most kitchens. Its smooth and creamy texture also makes it an excellent option for adding moisture and richness to various baked treats. Overall, sour cream is a wonderful stand-in for buttermilk, providing both a delectable flavor and a desirable texture to your baked goods.

Milk And Vinegar

You can create a buttermilk substitute by combining regular milk with vinegar. Simply add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to a measuring cup, then pour in enough milk to make 1 cup. Stir the mixture and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to allow the milk to curdle and thicken slightly. This acidulated milk can then be used as a buttermilk alternative in your baking recipes.

The acidity of the vinegar will react with the milk, giving it a tangy flavor and thickening the consistency, which makes it a suitable replacement for buttermilk in most recipes. This quick and easy substitute is a great option if you don’t have buttermilk on hand but still want to achieve similar results in your baked goods.

Cream Of Tartar

Cream of tartar is an acidic powder formed during the winemaking process. This powdered acid, when added to milk, can mimic the tanginess of buttermilk, making it an excellent substitute for baking needs. To make a buttermilk substitute with cream of tartar, simply combine 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to curdle and thicken.

Using cream of tartar as a buttermilk substitute is especially useful when you don’t have access to buttermilk or when you need a dairy-free alternative. It adds the necessary acidity to your recipe that buttermilk typically provides, resulting in tender baked goods. Additionally, combining cream of tartar with milk offers the flexibility of creating the desired amount of buttermilk substitute based on your recipe requirements, making it a convenient option for any baking endeavor.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a versatile and tangy substitute for buttermilk in baking. To substitute buttermilk with lemon juice, simply stir 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into 1 cup of milk and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. The acid in the lemon juice will sour the milk, resulting in a buttermilk-like consistency and flavor.

Not only does lemon juice create an excellent buttermilk substitute, but it also adds a refreshing citrus flavor to your baked goods. When using lemon juice as a buttermilk substitute, be mindful that the citrus flavor may come through in the final product, which could be desirable for recipes like lemon-flavored cakes, muffins, or scones. Just like buttermilk, the acidity in the lemon juice helps tenderize the gluten in baked goods, resulting in a moist and tender texture.

In addition to its buttermilk-mimicking properties, lemon juice also brings a bright and tangy flavor to your baked goods, making it a fantastic option for enhancing the taste profile of your recipes. When using lemon juice as a substitute for buttermilk, you can enjoy the added benefit of a hint of citrus flavor that complements a wide variety of baked treats, from pancakes to quick breads.

Plain Milk

Plain milk is a readily available and simple substitute for buttermilk in baking. To replace buttermilk with plain milk, simply add one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to one cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes to curdle and thicken, mimicking the texture and acidity of buttermilk.

This substitution works best in recipes that call for buttermilk as a liquid ingredient for moisture and tanginess. It may not yield the exact same flavor profile as buttermilk, but it will provide the necessary acidity to react with leavening agents and tenderize the baked goods. Keep in mind that using whole milk will provide a richer and creamier texture compared to using lower-fat milk varieties.

While plain milk may not replicate the exact taste and texture of buttermilk, it is a convenient alternative for when buttermilk is not on hand. This versatile substitution allows for the successful execution of various baked goods, making it a useful option for home bakers to have in their repertoire.


Kefir is a cultured dairy product that can serve as an excellent substitute for buttermilk in baking recipes. With its tangy flavor and similar consistency, kefir can provide the acidity and moisture needed to achieve similar results in your baked goods. Due to its fermentation process, kefir also offers probiotic benefits, promoting gut health in addition to being a versatile ingredient for baking.

When using kefir as a substitute for buttermilk, it is important to keep in mind that kefir tends to be slightly thinner than buttermilk. To achieve a more comparable texture, you can thicken the kefir by stirring in a small amount of plain yogurt until it reaches the desired consistency. This simple adjustment will ensure that your kefir can effectively replace buttermilk in your baking recipes.

Keep in mind that kefir has a natural tanginess that can enhance the flavor profile of your baked goods. This can be a delightful addition to recipes like pancakes, waffles, biscuits, and even cakes, providing a unique and delicious twist to your favorite treats.

Dairy-Free Buttermilk Alternatives

Dairy-free buttermilk alternatives are perfect for individuals with lactose intolerance or those following a vegan diet. One easy option is to make a dairy-free buttermilk by combining non-dairy milk like almond, soy, or coconut milk with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Simply stir the acid into the non-dairy milk and let it sit for a few minutes to curdle and thicken, creating a suitable buttermilk substitute for your baking needs.

Another great dairy-free alternative is using unsweetened coconut yogurt mixed with a little water to achieve the right consistency. This substitution not only provides the tanginess of buttermilk but also adds a subtle coconut flavor to your baked goods. Additionally, commercial non-dairy buttermilk substitutes are available in many stores, offering a convenient option for those looking to avoid dairy in their baking recipes. With these dairy-free alternatives, everyone can enjoy the benefits of buttermilk in their favorite baked treats.


Incorporating buttermilk into your baking is a great way to enhance flavor and texture, but finding a suitable substitute can always come in handy. With these five easy buttermilk substitutes, you can confidently tackle any recipe, even when buttermilk is not readily available. Whether it’s using lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, sour cream, or milk alternatives, these options provide the flexibility and convenience to adapt to your baking needs without compromising the final result.

Experimenting with these substitutes allows you to explore different flavors and textures while maintaining the quality of your baked goods. So, the next time a recipe calls for buttermilk and you find yourself without it, feel empowered to reach for one of these easily accessible alternatives, knowing that you can achieve delicious results. Let your creativity flow and bake away with confidence, knowing that your pantry holds the key to successful buttermilk-free baking.

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