Ever been happily making a recipe only to find that it requires buttermilk? Your first thought is What the heck is buttermilk? Your next, as you almost certainly won’t have any in the fridge, is Where do I get it? If you’ve ever been in this situation our tips on how to make buttermilk will save you time and money…and let you get on with that recipe.

What is Buttermilk?

Real buttermilk is the liquid that’s left over when butter is made. It’s slightly sour, contains fragments of curd and is the consistency of watery cream.

Obviously, selling leftovers from the butter making process isn’t an attractive proposition for many dairy companies, so commercial buttermilk, the kind of buttermilk you find in the supermarket fridge, is actually normal milk that has been fermented with a bacterial culture. The process is similar to making yoghurt, but with a shorter fermentation time of around 12 hours.

Making Buttermilk at Home

All of this sound a bit yucky? A bit time consuming? Don’t worry, the steps below will show you how to make a substitute buttermilk in just a few minutes with nothing more than milk and vinegar.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. The recipe works on the simple principle that acid will curdle milk and cause it to sour a little. You got sour milk with curds, you got a great substitute for real buttermilk, and certainly one which will work in any recipe that calls for the stuff.

Homemade Buttermilk Recipe

The following recipe will make one cup of buttermilk. If you need more, just increase the ingredients proportionally.

  • Place one cup of milk in a bowl.
  • Add one tablespoon of white vinegar (you can also use lemon juice at a pinch).
  • Allow the mixture to stand for five minutes.

Instant Buttermilk

And there you have it – instant buttermilk. Simply use it as directed by your recipe. Now that you know how to make buttermilk you’ll never be stuck again when you come across a request for this unusual ingredient.

How to Make Buttermilk, 3.3 out of 5 based on 11 ratings



  1. John Sosebee says:

    Very disappointing! I wanted a recipe for making “Real” cultured buttermilk. Instead, you have offered a recipe for curdling milk. It would be hard to find a cook, even a novice, who did not know how to curdle milk! Google is getting more and more disappointing, every time I use it to search. I’ve always used Google, but I am thinking seriously of trying another search engine. Too bad, Google, you should have stayed with what you were doing originally.

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    Rating: 2.7/5 (57 votes cast)
  2. Jasmine says:

    I actually found this very helpful, will be doing this for my cake – thanks!

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    Rating: 3.6/5 (25 votes cast)
  3. Charlotte says:

    This is what I wanted to know, thanks :-)

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    Rating: 3.7/5 (18 votes cast)
  4. Miche says:

    hey, this is how to make buttermilk. If you don’t like, go and buy buttermilk from the supermarkets

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    Rating: 3.6/5 (21 votes cast)
  5. Sasha says:

    works real well :) exactly what i needed. Not googles fault you clicked on the wrong site suggestion John

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    Rating: 4.1/5 (26 votes cast)
  6. janet says:

    Sorry Miche, you are wrong, this is not how you make buttermilk! as John Sosebee said this recipe tells you how to curdle milk- to make real butter milk read on!

    Beat double cream with a whisk, preferably an electric one, its hard work with a Manuel, it will turn yellow & look like curdles milk, squeeze out the *liquid- *this is the butter milk! you can use the hard part as it is butter, just wash squeeze & shape add salt to preserve the butter… hey presto butter mik & butter from cream!

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  7. WAKA says:

    :) Well, as stated above this recipe is a ‘substitute’ for buttermilk -NOT real buttermilk which I find to be fine!!:) I was not able to find any in the local supermarket so this served its purpose & my red velvet tastes BEAUTIFUL!!!I have used real buttermilk before with the same recipe – yet struggled to find any difference in taste, texture & density =)

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