If you’ve ever wondered how to make buttermilk, here’s your guide! From authentic homemade versions to quick and easy buttermilk substitutes, add fluff and tang to your favorite recipes.
When I think of “buttermilk,” I think of big, fluffy, buttery biscuits next to a big plate of fried chicken.
There’s something about the word buttermilk that makes us think “big and fluffy” and “rich and flavorful,” but here’s something you might not know:
WHAT IS BUTTERMILK?
Buttermilk is the liquid by-product that you get when you make butter. If you let the raw milk sit to sour before you make butter, your buttermilk will be naturally soured and slightly cultured. This slightly cultured beverage contains healthy bacteria that help keep our digestive system in proper working order (and should be refrigerated once it’s soured, by the way).
But it’s way more than just a substitute for milk in biscuits. It’s like the Swiss army knife of dairy liquids!
Here is why I LOVE buttermilk:
- Great flavor
- Multiple ways to make it
- Easier to digest
- So many great substitute methods exist
HOW TO MAKE BUTTERMILK (4 WAYS!)
You might be wondering how to make buttermilk, and I’ve got good news. It’s really easy, and there are multiple ways to do it!
- Make cultured butter. The liquid byproduct is cultured buttermilk.
- Buy a starter culture and combine it with fresh milk.
- Allow raw milk to sit at room temperature to clabber. Culture and re-culture several batches of milk until the milk thickens dependably and tastes tart, but not bitter.
- Combine 1 Tbsp of store-bought buttermilk per 1 cup of fresh milk and allow to thicken at room temperature, for 12 to 24 hours. As it sits out, it will get thicker and tangier.
If you have an affordable source of raw milk, either #1 or #3 will be your most frugal options. For those who do not, the best route will be #4, saving some from each batch to re-culture another one.
HOMEMADE BUTTERMILK SUBSTITUTES
- In a glass measuring cup add 1 Tablespoon distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let the mixture sit at room temperature until the milk thickens, about 5-10 minutes.
- Combine 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1 cup of milk. Stir and allow to sit at room temperature until the milk thickens, for about 5-10 minutes.
- Add 1 ¾ tsp cream of tartar to 1 cup of milk. Allow to sit at room temperature until the milk thickens.
- Combine ¾ cup Plain Yogurt with ¼ cup whole milk.
- Mix ½ cup plain Homemade Greek Yogurt with ½ cup whole milk.
- Combine ½ cup sour cream with ½ cup whole milk.
- Substitute Homemade Kefir for buttermilk in a one-to-one ratio (thinning with whole milk as necessary).
How to make buttermilk affordable will depend on what you normally keep in your pantry!
6 REASONS TO MAKE HOMEMADE BUTTERMILK
Just in case “because it makes everything taste better” isn’t a good enough reason for you, here are six more reasons to consider using buttermilk more often and keep some in the fridge:
- It should be easier to digest for anyone who is lactose intolerant – much of the milk sugar has been broken down into lactic acid.
- The natural acidity inhibits the growth of bad bacteria, meaning it has a longer shelf life!
- You can make sour cream easily: 1 Tbsp buttermilk + 1 pint cream = homemade sour cream
- Let it sit at room temperature for 1-2 days until the milk has visibly separated from the whey. Strain the whey from the curds using a fine mesh strainer and you have homemade cream cheese.
- If you’re out of baking powder, substitute baking soda and replace the liquids in the recipe with buttermilk. Baking soda needs acid to activate it as a leavening agent, and buttermilk provides that acid.
- Use buttermilk in place of whey, yogurt, kefir, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice when soaking grains to reduce phytic acid.
HOW TO MAKE BUTTERMILK FAQS
How to make buttermilk from regular milk?
If you have access to raw milk, you can use a starter culture and combine it with real milk. If you don’t have access to raw milk, you can combine 1 Tbsp of store-bought buttermilk per 1 cup of fresh milk and allow it to thicken at room temperature.
What can I use if I don’t have buttermilk?
There are multiple ways to make substitutes that are listed above. A substitute can be made using vinegar, lemon juice, cream of tartar, yogurt, sour cream, or kefir in combination with milk.
How much vinegar do I add to milk to make buttermilk?
To make a DIY buttermilk substitute using vinegar, follow a 1 Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup milk ratio. You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Why use buttermilk instead of milk?
Buttermilk adds a tangy flavor to most recipes, as well as helping your baked goods be fluffy and moist. Plus, it contains healthy bacteria and can be easier to digest. And it’s so easy to make!
Can I make dairy-free buttermilk?
Yes! You can add 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of coconut milk or almond milk for a dairy-free buttermilk substitute.
Can you freeze buttermilk?
Yes, you can freeze buttermilk for up to 3 months. Be sure to freeze in the portions you would use for recipes for easier thawing, like ice cubes. I like these silicon molds or an ice cube tray to freeze small amounts.
Looking for how to make buttermilk recipes now that you’ve made your own? Check out these!
- Potato Buttermilk Bread
- 21 Easy Chicken Marinade Recipes
- Almond Crusted Baked Chicken (sub in buttermilk for milk)
- Homemade Ranch Dressing