Homemade Buttermilk

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Learn how to make buttermilk in your own kitchen– you only need 2 ingredients!

homemade buttermilk in a glass measuring cup

I have a giant confession: 

I can’t tell you the last time I actually bought buttermilk.

And as an avid, frequent baker, I use buttermilk a lot. 

In fact, it’s one of those ingredients I should have on hand because of the sheer fact that I use it so much, but I don’t, because since I learned that I could make buttermilk in my own kitchen, I haven’t bought it since.

Sorry, buttermilk manufacturers. I’m about to turn a whole bunch of people into believers like myself, so… My bad.

But really, I’ve been blogging for almost 6 years, and I have a whole bunch of recipes that call for buttermilk. In fact, here are all of my recipes containing buttermilk. And you’ll see that a lot of those recipes are of the red velvet variety.

red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting

So here I stand, at the beginning of Fresh April Flours’ first official “red velvet week,” showing you just how easy it is to make buttermilk in your own home. One less ingredient to buy, and I can almost 100% guarantee you have the ingredients you need to make it yourself.

Before we get into exactly how to make your own buttermilk, let’s talk about what it is and why it’s important in baking.

WHAT IS BUTTERMILK?

Buttermilk is an acidic baking ingredient. Traditionally, buttermilk is the byproduct of butter and what is left after the churning process. When left to ferment, buttermilk naturally turns to a thick and tangy cream, which is low in fat.

Commercially made buttermilk is simply low fat milk that has been fermented by a bacteria culture. The milk is then heated to remove the bacteria, leaving behind safe-to-consume fermented milk.

homemade buttermilk in a glass measuring cup

WHAT DOES BUTTERMILK DO IN BAKING?

Buttermilk, like yogurt and sour cream, also helps tenderize gluten, which brings body, moisture, and a softer texture to baked goods. 

You’ll often find buttermilk included in recipes that contain baking soda as the leavening agent.

Baking soda is simply an acid in powder form, and it needs an acid to activate it. Improper activation or no activation at all can leave baked goods dense and heavy instead of light and fluffy. 

blueberry muffin unwrapped on a white and purple kitchen towel

SO NOW YOU’RE THINKING… HOW CAN I MAKE BUTTERMILK?

Homemade buttermilk is two very simple ingredients. Milk + white vinegar or lemon juice. And about 5 minutes.

Simply pour 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup, and then add milk to the measuring cup to bring the level to 1 cup. 

This means you’ll need 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon of milk. It’s just easier to add the fermenting agent first than to try to measure that!

Stir it up, let it sit for 5 minutes, and then it’s ready to go!

nutella swirl muffin unwrapped and with a bite taken out of it

WHAT IF I DON’T NEED A WHOLE CUP OF BUTTERMILK?

Adjust the recipe as necessary to your needs. Only need ½ a cup of buttermilk? Reduce vinegar or lemon juice to ½ Tablespoon and add milk accordingly. Only need ¼ cup? Adjust to ¼ Tablespoon. 

The conversion couldn’t be simpler. 

WHAT KIND OF MILK DO I USE FOR HOMEMADE BUTTERMILK?

You can use any kind of milk you prefer. I typically use whole cow’s milk because it’s what we have on hand (toddlers!). I have used almond milk, skim milk, 1% milk, and 2% milk. You can even use soy milk to make homemade buttermilk.

Truly, any milk is fine, even non-dairy. You just have to ferment it a bit with vinegar or lemon juice. 

banana crumb snack cake on a white plate

HOW QUICKLY SHOULD I USE MY HOMEMADE BUTTERMILK?

Once your buttermilk is ready to use, you can use it right away. You can, however, let it sit if you don’t need to use it right away.

Use the expiration date on your original milk source as a guide.

Your homemade buttermilk will last just as long as regular milk. Just give it a good stir before using it again.

brown butter pumpkin cake with maple cinnamon cream cheese frosting on an orange and white polka dot plate with a fork

WHAT CAN I DO WITH LEFTOVER BUTTERMILK?

In the event you don’t use all of the buttermilk you made, you can absolutely freeze it and save it for later.

You can either:
1) freeze it as one large batch, making sure you build an expansion cushion in your container
2) or pour it into an ice cube tray and then transfer the cubes to a bag or other container to keep in the freezer. 

aerial photo of homemade buttermilk in a glass measuring cup

WHAT CAN I USE BUTTERMILK FOR?

As I mentioned, there are so many recipes of mine that call for buttermilk. Consider any of the following, or use whenever you come across a recipe that calls for buttermilk.

Nutella swirl muffins
very berry muffins
bakery style chocolate chip muffins
cream cheese filled red velvet muffins
brown butter pumpkin layer cake
red velvet cupcakes
banana crumb snack cake
yellow layer cake
blueberry muffins
peach almond streusel muffins
Irish soda bread
chocolate chip peanut butter bread
baked red velvet donuts

So there you have it! I hope you’ll turn to homemade buttermilk the next time you need it and never steer away from baking something just because it calls for this easy-to-make-yourself ingredient. 

Happy baking!

Homemade Buttermilk: Learn how to make buttermilk in your own kitchen-- you only need 2 ingredients!
5 from 1 vote
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Homemade Buttermilk

Learn how to make buttermilk in your own kitchen– you only need 2 ingredients!
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Recipe Author Lynn April
Servings: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon (15mL) distilled white vinegar OR lemon juice
  • milk any

Instructions

  • Add vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup.
  • Add milk to the measuring cup to bring the level to 1 cup. Stir and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Proceed with recipe as directed. Store leftovers in the refrigerator up until the expiration date on the original milk container. Buttermilk freezes well, up to 2 months. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave as needed.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @freshaprilflours on Instagram or tag #freshaprilflours!

Nutrition Disclosure

All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 149kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 93mg | Potassium: 366mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Calcium: 301mg

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    That couldn’t have been easier. And now I can make all of the things I never did becuase I didn’t have buttermilk!

  2. Hello, I couldn’t find on internet if the milk has to be at room temperature, or slightly warm before making buttermilk. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi, Natalie– it does not matter when you’re making the actual buttermilk. You will want to pay attention to your recipe as to whether or not the buttermilk should be room temperature, warm, etc or not.