When You Don’t Have Buttermilk On Hand…

If you find yourself without fresh buttermilk in the fridge when you decide to make pancakes or biscuits (and neither is worth making with OUT buttermilk), there is a substitution that works quite nicely.

All you do is combine 1 Tbsp lemon juice OR vinegar (apple cider vinegar and white vinegar both work, and others probably do too) with 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for five minutes. Voila!  Buttermilk. (Obviously you can double that or use whatever ratio necessary to complete your recipe.)

Seriously, that’s ALL there is to it. It will even SMELL like buttermilk. Real buttermilk is best, but if you don’t have it, you don’t have to run out to the store or bypass your favorite pancake recipe. Just whip some up at home!


  1. says

    I just learned that last week!! My banana cake that I made called for “sour milk” – and I googled “sour milk” and found exactly what you just described! Worked like a charm!!


  2. Kate says

    That’s great, thank you! Often my husband and I skip a recipe with buttermilk because we can’t use up an entire carton of it. This will be very helpful!

  3. says

    I make pancakes all the time without buttermilk. Wow. I just had no idea the whole vinegar milk = buttermilk thing. You learn something new everyday. Thanks!!! Not sure I’ll ever need to know it, but thanks anyway! =)

  4. says

    Well, I would be that one person that didn’t know how to “make my own” buttermilk. I also have never used it in pancake mix either (although the box variety doesn’t count, I’m sure LOL). Now I’m going to have to make homemade pancakes and use buttermilk!

  5. melanie says

    i left my husband alone with a pancake recipe and he thought since we didn’t have buttermilk he should just add butter along with the milk.

  6. says

    You know, I’m not a huge buttermilk fan and I make homemade pancakes too. Instead of 2 cups of buttermilk I use 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of 1/2 & 1/2. It’s not buttermilk but it makes it taste yum.

  7. Mary P. says

    I did not know that!! But thanks so much for the tip!!! We are always needing to run to the store for it.

  8. says

    This is one of my FAVORITE cooking substitutions. You can do it with soy milk too for those that suffer from dairy allergies! You gotta love that!

  9. says

    That is a great tip! Thanks. Did you know they also sell powdered buttermilk? It’s in the baking aisle, you keep it in the refrigerator and it keeps for ever. When you need it, just add water! I always keep it on hand.

  10. says

    That is a great use for vinegar. I especially like it because I actually hate the taste of buttermilk by itself, so I never use up all I buy for a recipe. This would be cheaper, I think, than buying too much buttermilk just for the small amount I need for the recipe.

  11. says

    Lemon juice or vinegar?!? Really? Wow – I never would have thought of that. I guess I’m part of the 1/10th of the population that didn’t know that! Thanks for sharing. :)

  12. says

    Just tried this and yep it totally totally works. Buttermilk isn’t something most English peopled have in their cupboards so this is a great idea! Well I don’t usually have it.

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