How to Make a Buttermilk Substitute

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I love buttermilk, but to be honest, I rarely buy it. It isn’t because I don’t want to use it, but more that I can’t seem to get it all used up before it spoils. This makes me a really sad panda when I’m wanting to make my homemade buttermilk biscuits recipe, buttermilk pancakes or some other delicious goodness that involves buttermilk. If you’re a bit unsure of what buttermilk is, it is the liquid that is left after making butter from heavy cream. It is usually an off white color and thicker than regular milk but not quite as thick as heavy cream. It also has a bit of a sour taste to it that makes for very unique flavor when used in cooking or baking recipes. That’s what traditional buttermilk is anyhow, but a buttermilk substitute is a bit different.

Making a recipe that calls for buttermilk but have none in the fridge? No fear! This homemade buttermilk substitute is amazing! You'll never be able to tell you didn't use the "real" thing!

The reason that real buttermilk and a buttermilk substitute alike are so important is that it creates an acidic environment in the milk. Combine this with the baking soda that the recipe calls for and what you end up with is a light, fluffy texture that simply melts in your mouth. Real buttermilk already has this acidity but if you’re making a buttermilk substitute, you’ll need to create the acidity using regular milk. For some, that will mean using a powdered buttermilk option, but if you’re like me, I try to stay away from too many powdered anythings (yes, it is a real word. I said so.). Instead, I just use these substitutes just like I do with my heavy cream substitute.

Buttermilk Substitute

There are a few different ways that you can make a buttermilk substitute. Each one is as easy as the other. There really isn’t much difference between them other than the ingredients. It can be helpful to have more than one way to create the substitute in case you’re out of one ingredient but have the others. Real buttermilk can be very expensive so if you’re looking to save money on groceries, making this substitute can be a great way to save a little bit. In 2014, our family budget took a major hit so we stopped buying and started making as much as possible. Now we’re up to a considerably larger list than we started with and this buttermilk substitute is on it!

Buttermilk substitute with vinegar

Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar to a 1 cup measuring cup. Top the measuring cup off with any white milk. Allow the cup to sit for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, your milk should be curdled enough to have enough acid to substitute for fresh buttermilk. Fwiw, milk and vinegar are also the main ingredients when making homemade ricotta cheese.

Buttermilk substitute with yogurt

Mix 1/4 cup white milk into 3/4 cup yogurt with a wire whisk. It will be thick but once it is mixed well, you can go ahead and use it as you would buttermilk in your recipe.

Buttermilk substitute with cream of tartar

Measure out 1 cup of white milk and in a separate small container, stir together 2 tablespoons of the milk with 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar until it is no longer lumpy. Once you’ve got the cream of tartar/milk mixture smooth, add it to the rest of the milk and stir well to combine. Once it is combined, it’s ready to use just like you would fresh buttermilk.

See how easy that was? Will you continue to buy fresh buttermilk or will you use one of these awesome buttermilk substitutes?





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Stacy Williams

Stacy Williams is a 37-year old wife to a USAF Gulf War Veteran, mother of two teen girls and fur-mamma to a rescued pit bull. The face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family, she also owns and manages Long Haul Wife, Republic Preparedness, The Genealogy Queen and a handful of others sites. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome a drinking problem, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence, and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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