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What Can I Use In Place Of Buttermilk {Ask the Readers}


I recently had a reader submit an Ask the Readers question about buttermilk. It was a great question, so I thought I would answer it today and let you all add your thoughts as well.

I love it when readers can help each other, so if you have a question for my readers or me, you can submit it by clicking here and filling out the form. (If I feature your question for Ask the Readers, I will email you to let you know when I post it.)

Now let’s talk buttermilk. Here is the question that was submitted.

What is the deal with using buttermilk? I do not want to purchase such a large container if I am just using a cup or two. May I just use skim milk?

The answer is yes you can use milk, but you have to add a little lemon juice or vinegar to it.

If a recipe calls for 1 cup buttermilk you can take 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and add enough milk to equal 1 cup. Stir and let it set for about 5 minutes. You can now use it in place of buttermilk in recipes.

You can also use about 3/4 cup plain yogurt and 1/4 cup milk stirred together in place of buttermilk. You want the yogurt milk mixture to be about the same consistency as buttermilk.

Substitute for Buttermilk

I will say that I prefer buttermilk. The real thing. Especially when I am making pancakes or biscuits. I have used the milk lemon juice/vinegar mixture, but I do think the texture is better with the real thing.

I know a lot of people don’t like to buy buttermilk for just an occasional recipe, but did you know that you can freeze buttermilk. Yes, you can and it freezes great. I wrote a post on freezing buttermilk several years ago. It is really easy and lets you have buttermilk anytime you need it.

Now I would love to hear what you think?

Do you prefer buttermilk and keep it on hand or do you use something in place of buttermilk? And have you ever frozen it? I would also love to hear your favorite uses for buttermilk? What do you love to use buttermilk in? 

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. Nothing beats real buttermilk. I freeze my extra buttermilk, too. I portion out 1/2 cup measures into snack size zip bags and put all those bags into a gallon size freezer bag. Then, when I need buttermilk, I just grab however many bags needed for my recipe.

  2. By the way you can also make your own sour cream, although it takes longer than it does to make buttermilk. Stir a tablespoon of lemon juice into a cup of heavy cream or whipping cream and let it sit on your countertop several hours. I generally let mine sit out all day. After it thickens, give it another stir, cover and refrigerate. The next day you will have the most delicious sour cream. It will thicken quite a bit more after sitting in the fridge. I use slightly more than a tablespoon of lemon juice per cup because I like a thick sour cream. I learned this trick years ago on the Somercize recipe boards. In the summertime it takes far less time for the cream to thicken at room temperature, of course. I don’t buy commercial sour cream any more. It does take planning ahead to make your own, but I find it is worth it in taste and quality, and it doesn’t have gelatin or other thickeners.

  3. I use powdered buttermilk, which keeps in the fridge for a long time.

    • I used to buy the powdered buttermilk to keep on hand, but have had trouble finding it. Walmart used to carry it in my area, but stopped selling it. I need to look for it again because I agree it is great to keep on hand too.

  4. Just recently I used some Greek yogurt (plain) stirred into 2% milk to substitute the buttermilk when making a pan of cornbread in my smallest cast iron skillet. It made the best, most moist cornbread ever! I usually have Greek yogurt on hand for snacks with fruit and to mix with mayonnaise when making tuna, potato, egg or other salads that call for mayonnaise. Purchased buttermilk seems to sit in my fridge way past the “past due” date, but I use it anyway. I mean, really, isn’t “past due buttermilk” and oxymoron?

    • I have also used buttermilk that is expired and never had an issue with it. I know that is probably not the “recommended” way, but as long as the texture is the same and it smells like buttermilk I still use it.. 🙂

  5. I usually make my own yogurt, and when I’m really on top of things, I strain it to make Greek-style (thick) yogurt. The catch is that then I end up with a bunch of whey. I know it’s too nutritious to throw away, but didn’t know what to do with it until I learned that it can be used to replace other liquids in baked goods. It’s been years since I’ve bought true buttermilk – I used the vinegar/lemon juice with milk “method” you described – but most recently I’ve been using whey instead. Granted, I don’t actually make anything with “buttermilk” in the name, as I would think that it would give buttermilk pancakes or biscuits a different flavor, but for your average muffin or bread, it works great! And if you’re making your own yogurt, using hr leftover whey is very frugal as well. It also can freeze.

  6. I’ve successfully used the “whey” that I’ve drained from homemade yogurt instead of buttermilk in many recipes, since it’s a cultured product it seems to work successfully in anything I’ve used it in. I just think of it as “clear” buttermilk.

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