How to Make Buttermilk: A Beginner’s Guide

Buttermilk is a versatile and tangy ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes, from pancakes to fried chicken. But if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, don’t worry! Making your own buttermilk is easy, and requires just a few simple ingredients. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of making buttermilk at home, so you can add this delicious ingredient to your favorite recipes.

What is Buttermilk?

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s take a moment to talk about what buttermilk is. Contrary to what its name suggests, buttermilk is not actually made from butter. Instead, it’s a fermented dairy product that’s made by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk. This bacteria causes the milk to thicken and develop a tangy, sour flavor.


To make your own buttermilk, you’ll need just two ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice

That’s it! You can use any type of milk you like, including whole, low-fat, or skim. And for the vinegar or lemon juice, you can use either white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or fresh lemon juice.


Now that you have your ingredients, it’s time to make your own buttermilk. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Measure out the milk

Pour 1 cup of milk into a liquid measuring cup. You can use any type of milk you like.

Step 2: Add the vinegar or lemon juice

Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk. Stir the mixture gently with a spoon.

Step 3: Let the mixture sit

Let the milk and vinegar or lemon juice mixture sit for about 10 minutes. During this time, the milk will thicken and curdle slightly. This is exactly what you want to happen!

Step 4: Use the buttermilk

Your homemade buttermilk is now ready to use! You can use it right away in your favorite recipes, or store it in the refrigerator for up to a week.


1. Can I use buttermilk instead of regular milk in recipes?

Yes, you can! Buttermilk is a great substitute for regular milk in recipes like pancakes, waffles, and muffins. It adds a tangy flavor and helps to tenderize the baked goods.

2. Can I use yogurt instead of buttermilk?

Yes, you can! Yogurt can be used as a substitute for buttermilk in most recipes. Simply mix 1 cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of water to thin it out.

3. What’s the difference between cultured buttermilk and traditional buttermilk?

Cultured buttermilk is the type of buttermilk that you’ll find in most grocery stores. It’s made by adding bacteria to skim or low-fat milk. Traditional buttermilk, on the other hand, is the leftover liquid from churning butter. It has a more sour taste than cultured buttermilk.

4. Can I freeze buttermilk?

Yes, you can freeze buttermilk! Simply pour the buttermilk into an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the buttermilk in the refrigerator before using.

5. What can I do with leftover buttermilk?

Leftover buttermilk can be used in a variety of recipes, from biscuits to salad dressings. You can also freeze leftover buttermilk for later use.


Making your own buttermilk at home is easy and requires just two simple ingredients. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can make your own tangy and delicious buttermilk to use in your favorite recipes. So the next time you find yourself without buttermilk, don’t worry – just make your own!

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