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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)

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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.

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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.

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4.46 from 115 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
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1 Cup (8oz / 224g) milk (full or low fat)
Instructions
  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.

 

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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!

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252 Comments

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  1. 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.

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    Love,
    vathsala

    • 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 (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/how-to-make-yogurt/).
      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 🙂

  5. 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 🙂

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

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

    Will 2% milk work?

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

      Yes!

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

      Hello
      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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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!

  12. 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 🙂

  13. 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.

  14. 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,
    Donald

    • 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 🙂

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

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