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What to Use Instead Of Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a widespread ingredient in many dishes of Indian cuisine, and it has also become popular in Western countries. However, we sometimes might want or need to make use of something else instead of the original product, for instance, if we can’t find it in a store.

If you happened to end up in such a situation, don’t worry: we know plenty of healthy and all-natural equivalents that can successfully substitute this dairy goodie.

Dairy-Based Alternatives To Buttermilk

Originally, buttermilk is a byproduct of butter production, but today this foodstuff is commercially made by adding special bacteria to the ordinary milk to ferment it. Nevertheless, it can still spoil so keeping it correctly is a must.

This foodstuff is known for the tangy aroma and rather thick consistency compared to plain milk which makes it a perfect ingredient for pancakes, biscuits, waffles, etc. Thanks to buttermilk, all the baked foodstuff gets that moist and delicate texture.

But what if one doesn’t have it at hand when it is needed? Of course, we can suggest you rush to the nearest store but we can’t guarantee that they will have buttermilk. On the other hand, it is easy to prepare this goodie yourself using the simplest and common ingredients everyone has.

  1. Dairy-based alternatives

Perfect for those who are not lactose-friendly and for anyone who would like to try something easier for the stomach.

  • Milk and acetum

For this recipe, feel free to make use of any kind of milk and acetum, only don’t opt for those with the strong scent unless you want your pancakes to smell like vinegar. Acetum gives the blend the needed acidity turning it into a proper consistency, as well.

Also, if the cooking requirements ask for low-fat buttermilk, it would be reasonable to make use of the same milk.

To prepare the substitution, add 237 ml of milk to one spoonful of acetum and stir. The substance is better to sit for ten minutes to reach the optimal texture, but this is not mandatory.

  • Milk and lemon juice

If you are looking for something that doesn’t smell vinegar, opt for a ripe lemon. The proportions of both ingredients needed are the same as for the previous recipe, only we would recommend waiting a bit longer, around twenty minutes, so the liquid could churn. 

Also, try to make use of the freshly-squeezed juice since it works the best.

  • Cream of tartar and milk

To prepare this substitution, add five grams of this powder into any other dry ingredient, and then mix in the 237 ml of milk and dissolve by stirring. 

Cream of tartar is not recommended to put directly into milk since it tends to clump so remember about that.

As an option, try to whisk the powder with half of the milk amount, and then pour it into the rest of the milk.

  • Lactose-free milk and acid

This option will fit those who are not lactose-friendly or have a very low tolerance for it. The amounts of both components remain the same as for the previous recipes.

  • Sour cream and water/milk

All that must be done is to dissolve the sour cream with some water or milk to reach the needed consistency. To get one cup of “buttermilk” like that, blend 172 grams of cream and 60 ml water or milk, and whisk until it’s smooth.

  • Plain yogurt and milk

Yogurt will give almost the same taste as buttermilk has, and if using milk instead of water, the creamy and milky notes can be saved better.

To prepare it, stick to the same proportions as used for the sour cream recipe.

  • Kefir

Unsweetened and unflavored kefir tastes and looks almost like buttermilk. Another good thing about it is that it can be used cup for cup to substitute buttermilk.

  • Buttermilk powder

Diluted in water according to the instruction on the packet, this substance can create clumps in your dough, so we would advise mixing it into another dry ingredient first.

When deciding to replace the original buttermilk goodie with a substitution, remember that hanging upon what dairy foodstuff will be used as a base, the final taste of the product may vary, and sometimes quite significantly.

Better always double-check the recipe to ensure that the alternative will not affect the savor much in a bad way.

        2.    Dairy-free alternatives

For those who can’t stand lactose, the use of milk products is forbidden. Luckily, buttermilk can be made out of lactose-free ingredients, too.

  • Go for the unsweetened soy milk and acid, for instance, acetum or lemon juice, to prepare a substitution. Instead of an almond drink, feel free to make use of coconut or soy substitution, as well. Nutty drinks will also be a good option though.
  • Vegan sour cream and water can also taste fine instead of real buttermilk.
  • It is even possible to make use of tofu, but you will need a blender for that. And of course, let us not forget about the acidic element that is always needed in producing this foodstuff.

Such vegetable-based substitutions are a perfect option for using them in recipes meant for a low-carb or paleo diet including the eating preferences of vegetarians and vegans.


Consider though that such alternative products may have slightly different taste and aroma, especially those that are made with no lactose-containing components. Before preparing them, think of how they will taste in a finished food you are making to ensure that the original savor will not suffer much.

And no matter what substitution, milky or not, will be used, any of them are healthy since they have no chemicals and artificial additives.

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