Your #1 Online Baking Destination!

How to make Homemade Buttermilk- Make it at home easily with just milk and lemon juice, that’s it!

How to Make Buttermilk Substitute (Bold Baking Basics)

Save Recipe

Hi Bold Bakers! 

Working as a professional chef I have learned a lot over the years and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with you.

How to Make Buttermilk at home is a very important Bold Baking Basic I think you need to know. I use Buttermilk a lot in my baking, however not on a weekly basis. I find myself using half a carton in a recipe and then by the time I want to use it again it is bad I would have to throw it away.  I hate waste so my simple solution to eliminate waste is to make the amount that I need using just milk and lemon juice.

Buttermilk is an important ingredient in baking. It adds flavor and makes moist, rich cakes. I love using it to bake. Once you know how simple it is to make you never have to leave it out of your recipes again. 

This Homemade Buttermilk makes a great addition to any pancake recipe, like my Best-Ever Buttermilk Pancake recipeRed Velvet Pancakes and even my Churro Waffles. Plus, I use it in my Best-Ever Chocolate Cake and traditional Irish Soda Bread.

How to make Homemade Buttermilk, Homemade Buttermilk, how to buttermilk, buttermilk recipe, making buttermilk, buttermilk at home, how to videos, how to recipes, basic baking tips, basic baking, baking, baking recipes, dessert, desserts recipes, desserts, cheap recipes, easy desserts, quick easy desserts, best desserts, best ever desserts, simple desserts, simple recipes, recieps, baking recieps, how to make, how to bake, cheap desserts, affordable recipes, Gemma Stafford, Bigger Bolder Baking, bold baking, bold bakers, bold recipes, bold desserts, desserts to make, quick recipes

Buttermilk is widely available in Ireland as it is a main ingredient in traditional Brown Soda Bread. However since moving to the U.S I realized it’s not as readily available. If you are in this situation you now know that you can whip up a great substitution is minutes.

How to make Homemade Buttermilk, Homemade Buttermilk, how to buttermilk, buttermilk recipe, making buttermilk, buttermilk at home, how to videos, how to recipes, basic baking tips, basic baking, baking, baking recipes, dessert, desserts recipes, desserts, cheap recipes, easy desserts, quick easy desserts, best desserts, best ever desserts, simple desserts, simple recipes, recieps, baking recieps, how to make, how to bake, cheap desserts, affordable recipes, Gemma Stafford, Bigger Bolder Baking, bold baking, bold bakers, bold recipes, bold desserts, desserts to make, quick recipes

Use my Buttermilk Substitute Recipe with:

Get more Bold Baking Basics recipes!

Pre-order the first Bigger Bolder Baking cookbook now!

4.42 from 173 votes
How to make Homemade Buttermilk- Make it at home easily with just milk and lemon juice, that’s it!
How to Make Buttermilk

Learn how to make Buttermilk at home so you always have it on hand for my Buttermilk Biscuits, Pancake recipes, and even Irish Soda Bread.

Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Author: Gemma Stafford
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1 Cup (8oz / 224g) milk (full or low fat)
  1. Measure the milk into a jug
  2. Stir in lemon juice or vinegar into the milk. Stir to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature until the milk begins to curdle and becomes acidic.
  3. Use in place of buttermilk in the recipe as it calls for. And if you don’t use it straight away store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Watch the Recipe Video!

Recipe Notes

I don't recommend freezing Buttermilk. Dairy doesn't always defrost the same way.



8 Images
Submit Your Photos
Victoria Lantang
Victoria Lantang
Lisa Grahn
Danyah AL-Tamimi
Shelly Harms
Katherine Cowgill by Teren Oddo Oct. 2015

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

Have you made a recipe? Share photos on my website or across social media with the hashtag #boldbaker.

And don't miss my NEW Bold Baking recipes and tips. Sign up for my weekly email newsletter.


Write a Comment and Review

  1. Catherine Clark on September 18, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    I’ve been making my own butter (stupidly simple and fun). I have used the leftover water from the separation in biscuits, can I use that in a cake, or should I make it the way you are?
    Also, I periodically put lemon juice into the cream and let it sit overnight for a more European style butter. Could I use the watery stuff in a cake as well?

    • Gemma Stafford on September 19, 2019 at 4:16 am

      Hi Catherine,
      yes! you certainly may use the buttermilk remaining for all of your baking.
      Interesting about the lemon juice idea! Farmers butter in Ireland can seem a bit fermented, and that is what you are describing here to a point. That would be naturally aged cream in Europe, but it sounds like it is working for you!
      Gemma 🙂

      • Cath in US on September 19, 2019 at 2:45 pm

        Thanks so much! I will look into how to age cream – I love the initial tang that European butter has because the creaminess seems more intense.

  2. Vhon on September 1, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    hi Gemma…

    being from the UK…I have never used buttermilk and making my own terrifies me… regardless whether is bought or made can I use for home-made lactose free long life milk or can you get the bought stuff lactose free.

    kind regards


    • Gemma Stafford on September 2, 2019 at 2:07 am

      Hi there,
      the thing to remember is that lactose is just the natural sugar of dairy milk. Removing this should not alter any of the other elements of the milk, it should still form a curd, which is what you are looking for in a buttermilk substitute. This substitute is not for drinking though, it is for baking. The natural buttermilk remaining after the production of butter is perfectly good to drink, but not so much this alternative.
      You can sour cream in this way too, also add natural yogurt, an organic one if possible, which will culture the milk.
      Nothing to fear here!
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Rosalinda Miller on August 9, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    Hi, Gemma. I just made clotted cream and was wondering if I could use the leftover liquid from that in your biscuits recipe or should I add lemon juice to it and turn it to buttermilk? Pardon if this is a double post. Thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 9, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Rosalinda,

      Yes absolutely you can use it for biscuits. That will work really well.


  4. Rosalinda Miller on August 9, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Hi, Gemma!
    I love your recipes and channel. I just made clotted cream (in an Instant Pot!) and was wondering if I could use the leftover liquid for the biscuits. Thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 9, 2019 at 1:41 pm

      that’s great!I’m happy to hear that.

      Yes absolutely use the extra liquid for biscuits.


  5. Hafsa Ahmed on June 30, 2019 at 3:41 am

    Hi, love your recipes and videos. I have been making buttermilk at home but I use Apple Cider vinegar as we dont use white vinegar. Would that make a difference?
    Also we dont drink coffee at home. so would instant coffee dissolved in hot water work?

    • Gemma Stafford on June 30, 2019 at 5:19 am

      Hi there,
      Instant coffee is a great help in baking, it works better than the real thing. Dissolve it in the tiny bit of water for best results.
      Any vinegar will do this for you, when I say white I am just saying not a dark one, it will look odd!
      Gemma 🙂

  6. Carmen Grima on June 28, 2019 at 3:01 am

    Hi Gemma Keen to try out your recipe. Can I use dairy-free milk, like soya,almond or coconut milk please?

    • Gemma Stafford on June 29, 2019 at 1:35 pm

      Hi Carmen,

      So the milks you mentioned won’t curdle and that is what you need from buttermilk. However depending on the recipe you can just use that milk instead of buttermilk.


  7. Ashu on June 18, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Gemma
    I just found your recipes recently…. just love watching ur all recipes. I wanted to try the muffins recipe. Could u pls tell me if I don’t have fresh lemon can I use lemon juice comes in the bottle….. or what kind of vinegar i need to use white vinegar or apple sider….or can I just use regular milk… pls reply… I was going to try tomorrow
    Thank you so much

    • Gemma Stafford on June 19, 2019 at 3:18 am

      Hi Ashu,
      you can use any acid ingredient. If you have any white vinegar that will be perfect, and it will be more active than the bottle of lemon juice too, go for the vinegar I say!
      I hope you enjoy your muffins,
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Maria Louise on June 7, 2019 at 5:48 am

    I found buttermilk in powder form, if I need 1 cup of buttermilk, what is the ration of buttermilk and water, do I even have to dilute it or do I just add the buttermilk powder to the dry ingredients, and again if yes, how many tablespoons or teaspoons to meet the 1 cup required in a recipe?

    • Gemma Stafford on June 8, 2019 at 3:28 am

      Hi Maria Louise,
      I think it usually tells you on the pack how you should dilute this. It will be best to add it as a wet ingredient, so mix it according to the directions on the pack so that it matches the amount required by your recipe. For powdered milk, in general, the ratio is 1:3. That is 1/3 cup of powdered milk to one cup of water for instance.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Maria Louise on June 8, 2019 at 1:01 pm

        Wow!!! You really replied! I’m ecstatic!💚🥰 unfortunately, here in our country since its quite costly, I got a “repacked” one which is transferred into a clear plastic and so packaging does not come with instructions😕 but super duper thanks for the tips, 1:3 it is🙂 thanks for making baking “doable” for us hopefuls🙏🏻 God bless!

        • Gemma Stafford on June 10, 2019 at 3:01 am

          Hi Maria,
          we will all be getting our food in this sustainable way one day, it is the way it used to be!
          Thank you for being here with us,
          Gemma 🙂

  9. Samantha on May 26, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Hi Gemma always using your recipes, today I’ve made banana loaf, strawberry jam and was going to make buttermilk but I was wondering can I use distilled malt vinegar ? Keep up the good work 😊 my family loves eating the food I bake 😁

    • Gemma Stafford on May 27, 2019 at 8:06 am

      Yay!!! I’m thrilled to hear that! yes you can use malt vinegar.

      Thanks for trying it out.

  10. Rashami on May 22, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Gemma.
    In India, we make buttermilk by churning curd and water. Can it be used in cake batter? Does the ratio of water and curd affect the cake texture?
    Thanks is advance

    • Gemma Stafford on May 23, 2019 at 2:09 am

      Hi there,
      Here is what I know about curd: It is made by boiling and cooling the milk to 30-40°C and adding a spoonful of curd. Curd has lactic acid bacteria or lactobacillus. This bacteria multiplies itself in the ambient temperature of 30-40°C and in few hours ferments the milk to form a curd. Curd is a rich source of calcium and protein and is suitable for lactose intolerant people.
      This means that it is an acid ingredient, which in turn means that it will work in a recipe requiring buttermilk. After that it will depend on the recipe. You can certainly try it!
      Gemma 🙂

  11. Lama Baz on April 25, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Gemma,
    I’ve been following your videos for a while and I’ve tried some of your recipes, and they turned out great. I also discovered I have a lot of passion to baking thanks to you.
    I wanna ask if I can use yogurt whey instead of buttermilk and olive oil instead of butter for the Irish bread recipe?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 26, 2019 at 2:57 am

      Hi Lama,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      Yes, the yogurt is perfect for this recipe, use it along with full-fat milk, not entirely on its own. Again you will culture the milk with it, about 3 tablespoons of yogurt to the amount of milk. Traditionally butter or eggs were not always used in this bread. you can add a little oil if you wish, but it is not strictly necessary. Margarine works well too.
      What matters is that you work fast with this, do not overdevelop the gluten, then all will be well,
      Gemma 🙂

  12. ruth on April 16, 2019 at 11:06 am

    in your recipe for buttermilk you say to use full or low fat milk. Is low fat the same as our semi skimmed or is it skimmed milk

    • Gemma Stafford on April 16, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Hi semi skimmed is low fat, yes. Really any will do. I just like higher fat for more richness.

  13. ruth on April 16, 2019 at 10:56 am

    Can I use strong white bread flour instead of all purpose flour for irish and traditional soda bread

    • Gemma Stafford on April 16, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      Hi, yes you can in that kind of recipe.

  14. ruth on April 16, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Can I use strong white bread flour instead or plain flour.

    Plain flour is the same as all purpose flour right?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 16, 2019 at 9:45 am

      Hi, plain is the same as AP but i would not suggest you switch it out bread flour.

  15. ruth on April 16, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Whern I make burrermilk for the traditional irish soda do i have to use 2 cups of milk and 4 tbsp of lemon juice as your reipe requires 400ml. i cup milk is 240ml.

    • Gemma Stafford on April 16, 2019 at 9:48 am

      Yes, that is what i would suggest for this. Enjoy!

  16. Carrie on April 7, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Can you use apple cider vinegar

    • Gemma Stafford on April 8, 2019 at 12:07 pm

      Hi, i suggest you us lemon juice here.

  17. Robin on April 1, 2019 at 7:05 am

    Hi Gemma,
    Do you skim the curdles off the top before using?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 1, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Hi, know i just give it a good stir.

  18. Peggy Hiykel on March 28, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    I used your recipe for buttermilk to make the Irish White Soda Bread and it worked like magic. Bread was really good, too. Now, I am wondering if I can use the buttermilk recipe to make a Buttermilk Pie. Will using the milk and vinegar recipe for the buttermilk work in the pie?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 29, 2019 at 2:25 am

      Hi Peggy,
      If you make this pie from buttermilk from the store it is probably a cultured buttermilk, which is a similar thing to my recipe. A natural buttermilk is a different thing, it is the residue remaining after the butter making process, slightly sour. I know this is a traditional Southern US pie, and I have never made it. It is similar to any custard pie which would be made with fresh milk.
      So, I am thinking that what I would do for this pie is to culture your milk with a natural organic yogurt. A tablespoon of yogurt per cup of milk will do it, allow to stand for at least one hour at room temperature, and that will do it for you.
      I hope this helps, I am putting this together in my head, but this makes sense to me, it wil lbe nicer in your pie than a buttermilk cultured with vinegar!
      Gemma 🙂

  19. Wendy on March 28, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Because it’s quite warm where I live (South Africa) we tend to use long-life milk, especially in summer. Does this make a difference for all your basic baking recipes (e.g. cheeses, buttermilk) – in fact for all your recipes? What is done to make milk long-life milk? I tried making cream cheese with long-life milk, but I only got minute bits of curd, not clumps of it… was the problem with the milk (perhaps what is considered full cream in SA is not really the full cream milk required for these recipes) or the lemon juice (I used the bottled lemon juice)? I have bough white spirit vinegar (as opposed to white grape vinegar) in order to try again but would prefer not to waste more milk if the problem is with the milk. Thanks.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 29, 2019 at 2:16 am

      Hi Wendy,
      this is a very good question. Long life milk is Ultra Heat Treated, effectively sterilizing the milk and cream. This process tends to denature the milk, and though you can get it to curdle it is not as easy as it is with fresh milk, which has been pasteurized. The result you got is exactly what you will get with this, though the vinegar will be more effective than bottled lemon juice or fresh lemon juice. The result is more ricotta like, the curds tend to be tiny and they will struggle to stick together if you try to cream them. If you do try again with the vinegar, so as not to waste, just try a little amount of the milk, a few ozs will do it. For things like buttermilk sub it will be perfect, and for all of the baking it works really well.
      my ice cream recipe seems to tolerate this cream, once it has a sufficiently high fat content to whip up.
      It is a difficulty around the world, in hot countries where dairy would always have been a challenge there are powdered alternatives, and again they have some uses, and can be tried for cream cheese too, quite effectively, this may be another alternative for you.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  20. Corinne on March 20, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Can I use semi skimmed milk to make buttermilk substitute?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 20, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      Hi, i would not suggest that as the fat content is not high enough to whip up.

  21. Abby on March 17, 2019 at 10:02 am

    hi gemma Can I use apple cider vinegar?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 18, 2019 at 11:36 am

      Hi, yes that will work but the fresh lemon juice is stronger.

  22. Terina on March 16, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Can I use the buttermilk from making butter from you recipe? With or without the lemon juice? Thanks….love your recipes

    • Gemma Stafford on March 17, 2019 at 6:37 am

      Hi Terina,
      Yes, this is natural buttermilk, strain it out before you add the iced water, you can drink this one too! All will be well,
      Gemma 🙂

  23. Thilakshi Ellawala on March 15, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    Hi Gemma,
    I love your all new recipes. I like to try 3 layer microwave but i have a question regarding homemade buttermilk. which is can I use lime instead of lemon to milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 18, 2019 at 11:45 am

      Hi, yes that will work too.

  24. Vathsala on March 5, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    HI Gemma,

    My kids, husband and I are a great fan of you and your baking. You see, all this while, I never had an proper oven to do my baking. 2 years ago a good friend of ours (an Australian expat couple) gave us their microwave oven (considered new as they have only used it a couple of time for heating food) before going back to Australia for good. My hands were so itchy to start some basic baking but I was told that I can’t bake good cakes using microwave. I got a little disappointed but started doing my research. And one magical evening, I stumbled upon your videos. I was walking over the clouds when I discovered your microwave mug cakes and other cake recipes. Immediately I started trying them one by one and I was so happy. However, after some time, I wanted to do real baking. Finally in Jan this year, I bought a proper electric oven. And now I watch your videos for more advance cakes and learn other techniques. Thank you so much Gemma for all your videos and encouragements. You are a GEM.

    By the way, regarding the buttermilk video. I have a small question. Won’t the milk turn into yogurt after adding the lemon juice? So is buttermilk equivalent to yogurt? Can I substitute buttermilk with yogurt?

    Thank you very much in advance for your reply. Keep baking and rocking.


    • Gemma Stafford on March 7, 2019 at 4:04 am

      Hello there Vatsala,
      How lovely! Thank you for this story, and a big thanks to your Aussie friends too, they got you going!
      Buttermilk sub/cultured buttermilk is not yogurt, and will never be so. see here (
      Reall what you are doing is souring the milk, to bring an acid ingredient to your baking. In that sense you are right, yogurt is also an acid ingredient, and it too can be used where buttermilk is called for. You can mix a little with fresh cream too when sour cream is called for and whip it up.
      see too the cream cheese recipe here, that may also be of help to you. I hope you enjoy your new cooker, read the instruction book carefully so that you get the very best from it,
      Gemma 🙂

  25. Charlotte on March 3, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Jemma

    Can I ask two questions.

    If I brought butter milk from the supermarket, can I freeze it , in ice cube trays. To use as an when recipes need it ?

    Can I do the same with whole milk as my family drinks semi skimmed or can I use semi skimmed milk instead of recipes that say whole milk. ?

    I look forward to your reply

    Thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 6, 2019 at 2:21 am

      Hi Charlotte,
      The difference between whole milk ans skimmed/semi skimmed milk is of course the fat content, but you know this.
      Semi skimmed milk has about 1.5% fat content, full fat milk will ave 3.5% fat content, little enough difference.
      You can easily sub one for the other in almost every recipe without any material difference to the result. Do not fret about this, you can make your own sub buttermilk as required, that will be best,
      Gemma 🙂

  26. Shevya on February 26, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Hi Gemma,

    You are such a gem of a baker. I love this whole baking basics series. I am getting to learn so much. And I guess basics are very important for baking. You are doing a great job, keep it up and all best to you.

    I love baking, and each time I use to pick recipes for which I had all the ingredients because I didn’t know how to substitute one thing for another and sometimes use to waste a whole lot of time searching for a recipe with the ingredients I had on hand or ended up buying some ingredient especially for a recipe. I have bought buttermilk in past especially for a recipe. But now thanks to you I never have to as milk and lemon are staple in my kitchen all the time.

    I have one question here in this buttermilk recipe though, what temperature should the milk be, room temperature or cold will do?

    Lots of love to you.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 27, 2019 at 6:05 am

      Hi there,
      thank you so much for your kind words.
      You see I think you are a great bold baker, and already are understanding the science! If you are going to use the milk right away then it will culture quicker if slightly warm, I say blood temperature. A cup of cold milk will come to this temperature in about 30 seconds in the microwave.
      I am delighted to have you baking with us, keep up the good work you too!
      Gemma 🙂

  27. Carol on February 24, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Its not working 1 cup of milk 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice been sitting out for 2 hrs nothing is happening

    • Gemma Stafford on February 25, 2019 at 9:39 am

      Hi there, you might need to add more lemon juice, the milk will curdle from the acid as long as there is enough.

  28. Mike Glovasky on February 21, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Will 2% milk work?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 21, 2019 at 12:23 pm


    • Essie on March 10, 2019 at 2:58 pm

      Can I use milk made with powdered milk?

      Thank you,

      • Gemma Stafford on March 11, 2019 at 4:56 pm

        Hi, i would not suggest that for this recipe.

  29. Kathleen on February 15, 2019 at 5:47 am

    Can I use for Ranch dressing?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 15, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      For sure!

  30. Tacy on February 8, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    Gemma, you are so fun to watch and such a great teacher. Thank you for everything.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 9, 2019 at 2:52 am

      Hi Tacy,
      Thank you. That is very kind. I try to keep it simple, for me as much as you!
      Good that you are with us,
      Gemma 🙂

  31. Mekhala C on February 4, 2019 at 2:04 am

    Hi Gemma,

    Can I use this if I am making a red velvet buttercream?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 4, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      Yes, you can!

  32. Simrat on February 1, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Emma
    I normally make paneer(cottage cheese) like this however the milk is boiled when I do so and lemon or vinegar is added once the milk boils. The liquid is called whey or is that buttermilk too?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 2, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      That’s whey but it can be used as buttermilk because it is dairy and it’s acidic.

      Gemma 🙂

  33. Tammy Fehrer on January 22, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Will this work with dairy free milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on January 23, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      No, i suggest you use dairy milk otherwise it might not curdle.

  34. Donald Jameson on January 15, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    I just have mayonnaise will this work instead of milk?

    All the best,

    • Gemma Stafford on January 16, 2019 at 3:39 am

      Hi Donald,
      Interesting question! it is certainly used in place of eggs in some recipes, and why not?
      It has that little acid, which is what you are looking for here, so it may indeed work for you, depending on the recipe. I am not 100% sure, but it is worth a shot,
      Gemma 🙂

  35. dawn on January 10, 2019 at 8:42 am

    can i use whipping cream?

    • Gemma Stafford on January 11, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Hi yes you can. Enjoy!

  36. Grace Tom on January 7, 2019 at 6:22 am

    Can u use pick milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on January 7, 2019 at 10:34 am

      Yes, you can! Enjoy!

  37. Christa Aimable on January 6, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Can i use canned evarporated milk

    • Gemma Stafford on January 7, 2019 at 12:15 pm

      I would not suggest that, as it will be too sweet to have the same flavor.

  38. Missy on December 28, 2018 at 4:22 am

    Can I use regular store bought whole milk or does it have to be fresh milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on December 28, 2018 at 7:26 am

      Hi Missy! Regular store bought milk will work just fine. I hope you enjoy!

Write a Comment and Review

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This