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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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Do you know how many things you can make homemade like Condensed MilkDIY All Natural Food Coloring,and Homemade Extracts to name a few. My full list of  all my Bold Baking Basics is here.

4.6 from 14 reviews
How to Make Buttermilk
  • 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.
I don't recommend freezing Buttermilk. Dairy doesn't always defrost the same way.



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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!

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  1. Tea Surina on March 22, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I come from Croatia so we don’t have it to buy! Best regards from Croatia!

    • Gemma Stafford on March 23, 2018 at 5:41 am

      Hi there,
      Greetings to you in Croatia too, I have it on my bucket list to visit.
      I am happy to have you with us, lots more to come!
      Gemma 😉

  2. Dr Martin Huang on March 18, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    Wow. Thank goodness I came upon your website to chance upon this DIY recipe!
    This would definitely save me quite a fair bit of money as well as not wasting the leftovers as my recipe only calls for a few spoons of buttermilk!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Gemma Stafford on March 19, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Hi there,
      Yes, this is really the idea, now you can make just what you need,
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Greg on March 17, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you very much for this recipe. I’m only giving it 4 out of 5 because I haven’t tried it yet :-). In the past, I’ve avoided recipes that call for buttermilk because a carton of buttermilk is too expensive to use one or two cups for a recipe, then throw away the rest. I’ll give your substitute a try (I always have lemons) and let you know how it goes.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 19, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Greg,
      Yes, you are right, and this is what I have found too, buy a carton, then look at it in the fridge until it goes out of date.
      The buttermilk we buy is cultured too, in much the same way as we do in this recipe, so it is perfectly fine to make as you go.
      Thank you for being here with us,
      Gemma 🙂

  4. Naome Rhania on March 9, 2018 at 1:42 am

    Hi Gemma. Thank you for helping us make these products at home. I live in Ug where they are so expensive. Now i can make my own right at home n yet fresh👍

    • Gemma Stafford on March 9, 2018 at 4:04 am

      Hi there,
      I have no idea where you live! Is it Uganda?
      Yes, some of the non traditional ingredients we talk about here are really expensive in other places, and I try to get over that by showing you a way to make these at home.
      That is the idea behind the BASICS series, we will add to this as time goes on too.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 😉

  5. Sky on February 14, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Yay! This recipe saved my life! Thanks so much Gemma!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 15, 2018 at 4:20 am

      Thank you Sky 🙂

  6. Gergana Karaboycheva on February 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Hey! Is it possible to use amond milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 12, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      Unfortunately no, it has be fresh milk

  7. Zarau Saeed on January 16, 2018 at 9:31 am

    I must confess…. I love bold bakers. I mostly use their recipe.

    • Gemma Stafford on January 17, 2018 at 3:59 am

      Hi there,
      I love you Bold Bakers too, great for giving help to each other, and advice to me, well done,
      Gemma 🙂

  8. mistty on January 15, 2018 at 2:08 am

    Can i use whole wheat flour in these recipies. If so is the amount the same.

    • Gemma Stafford on January 15, 2018 at 5:09 am

      Hi Misty,
      ( try this recipe!
      The problem with whole wheat flour is that, though it is high in gluten, the gluten is not so available, because of the way it is milled.
      For some recipes this is not a problem, cookies for instance can work well with this flour, but it is a different thing, and will give a different result.
      In most cases there is a need to mix it with plain/all purpose flour to get a good result. The banana bread here is a good example of where this will work.
      Fine cakes, like Vanilla birthday cake for instance will be less successful, these types of cake are designed for white flour.
      Adjustments may also need to be made to the liquid ingredients for wholemeal flour.
      So, you will need to match the flour to the recipe, think about it!
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Monika on January 5, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Hi Gemma
    I am from India, a pure vegetarian.
    We don’t use lemon in milk as per Ayurveda.
    Can I use real buttermilk(left after butter is made) for your muffin recipes?
    Does it have to be sour or as it is?
    Also, please give egg substitutes in crazy muffin recipes.
    Thanks a lot

    • Gemma Stafford on January 6, 2018 at 4:31 am

      Hi Monika,
      Are you saying that you use dairy milk? The buttermilk residue left behind by the butter making process is a lovely thing, and different as you say from the ‘cultured’ buttermilk we make here. It does need to develop the acid. Organic, unpasteurized milk will naturally ‘sour’ and can be used in baking, this is what was traditionally used to make soda bread in Ireland. Now, because of the way milk is treated is goes bad, rather than sour, and cannot be used in the same way. So, natural sour milk can be used, and buttermilk too, but it needs to be allowed to stand, until it slightly thickens through fermentation, and the development of the lactic acid, then it is as good as it gets!
      Gemma 🙂

  10. Vicky on December 31, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Hi Gemma, would distilled white vinegar work for this? Thank you 🙂

    • Gemma Stafford on January 2, 2018 at 6:10 am

      Hi Vicky,
      Yes, that will work perfectly,
      Gemma 🙂

  11. Eka Rippanawati Ni Wayan on December 27, 2017 at 12:06 am

    Hi Gemma, How are you? I am glad that I can learn every recipes that you shared, thank you. And I love to know more. I would like to ask, can I used milk powder by adding 1 cup water in it + 2 tablespoons lemon juice to make buttermilk? Thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 27, 2017 at 2:39 am

      Hi there,
      Yes! Remember this is really a cultured buttermilk, so it will work well too.
      Real buttermilk is the milk residue left after butter has been made from milk, a different thing really.
      Gemma 🙂

  12. Eiman on December 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    How much tablespoons of buttermilk does this recipe make ?


    • Gemma Stafford on December 6, 2017 at 4:33 am

      Hi there,
      You can make this to what you need. I used one cup/8oz of milk for this one, but you can reduce it, or increase it as you wish.
      In one cup of milk there are about 12 tablespoons.
      Gemma 🙂

  13. Sandra Larson on November 27, 2017 at 11:23 am

    I’ve made buttermilk twice now. The first time in banana bread and the taste was bitter. I’m using it again today and the batter is again bitter. I am baking the bread anyway thinking something magical will happen. Any thoughts?

    • Gemma Stafford on November 28, 2017 at 1:46 am

      hi Sandra,
      I really do not think I have ever tasted buttermilk in a baked food. I am a bit mystified by this. You can perhaps lighten this, by mixing it with fresh milk, or reducing the acid and allowing more time at room temperature to curdle it. Let me know how this works, I am interested in this,
      Gemma 🙂

  14. LaLangueLongue on November 24, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Do you use warm or cold milk ?

    • Gemma Stafford on November 25, 2017 at 3:18 am

      Hi there,
      It does not really matter, allowing it to stand is what matters here,
      Gemma 🙂

  15. Zia on November 19, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Do you prefer to use one acid over another?

  16. melray on November 15, 2017 at 5:14 am

    can i use full cream milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on November 17, 2017 at 2:45 am

      Hi Melray,
      Sure, that will be good,
      Gemma 🙂

      • melray on November 18, 2017 at 1:32 am

        thank you very much

  17. Ananya961 on October 30, 2017 at 5:32 am

    Can this be used to make buttermilk fried chicken?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 30, 2017 at 6:21 am

      Hi there,
      YES! this is what is known as a cultured buttermilk, which is what we generally buy in the store too. Go for it!
      Gemma 🙂

      • ananya961 on October 31, 2017 at 3:49 am

        Thank you and yes I shall go for it… 😉

  18. Alyssa Morales on October 26, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Hi, will this work on soy milk? Thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on October 27, 2017 at 2:33 am

      Hi there,
      Actually yes, this really is about adding the acid ingredient to your baking. The curding of the milk is not so important,
      Gemma 🙂

  19. Cris on October 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Hi good day,can i use sterilized milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 20, 2017 at 1:15 am

      Hi Cris,
      Good day to you too! Yes, you can, what you are looking for is the acid ingredients, which buttermilk/yogurt/lemon juice/vinegar are. Usually it is to balance with an alkaline ingredient for leavening, such as bicarbonate of soda, or indeed cocoa!
      Happy baking,
      Gemma 🙂

  20. Faseeha Yaseen on October 10, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Did yu use boiled milk or raw one ?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 11, 2017 at 1:51 am

      Hi there,
      Where I live milk is pasteurized, hardly ever bough raw these days.
      You can use milk you know to be safe to drink, either one will work,
      Gemma 🙂

  21. DARYL JOSE GOLEZ on October 7, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I would like to ask, can I used evaporated milk instead of milk if it is fine? thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on October 7, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      hummm, you know I don’t think that would work. Sorry. Real milk is best.


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