How to make buttermilk

See the best buttermilk substitutions and learn how to make buttermilk at home with our guide, then discover recipes for cakes, scones and pancakes.

Buttermilk

Don’t worry if you’re short on buttermilk – it’s super-simple to make your own version at home. Find out more below, along with how to use it in baking.

Discover more tips on how to improvise when cooking using our guide to common ingredient substitutions.

Best buttermilk substitutions

Pound cake with icing and slice cut
Buttermilk is the liquid that’s drained off during the churning of cream to make butter (as the fat splits from the water). The golden fat that remains is pressed into butter, and the white liquid that remains is buttermilk. It’s typically used in baking to add richness, moist texture and mildly tangy flavour. You can buy buttermilk in pots or cartons, but it’s becoming harder to find.

It is, however, easy and simple to make a substitute at home, with just milk and lemon juice. Try our easiest ever homemade buttermilk recipe
 

How to make buttermilk

  • 250ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 

Mix the milk and lemon juice in a jug or bowl and leave at room temperature for 5-10 mins until the milk has thickened slightly.

It won’t thicken as much as traditional buttermilk, but it’s a great substitute when making scones, soda bread or pancakes. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled or has small white lumps in it, it will be fine once cooked. 

If you don’t have lemon juice: Any white vinegar such as white wine or cider vinegar would also work. 

If you don’t have milk: Loosen yogurt with cold water to a pourable consistency, and use this as a substitute.

Kefir also works well as a substitute. Skimmed milk won’t thicken, so it can’t be substituted. 

Try our favourite buttermilk recipes from fluffy scones to fried chicken. 
 

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