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I've got a recipe that calls for some buttermilk, but none on-hand. Is there some way I could use some common ingredient(s) as a substitute?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 20 down vote accepted

There are a few possibilities:

  • 1 cup milk plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar, let stand for 10 minutes
  • 1 cup milk plus 2 tsp cream of tartar, let stand for 10 minutes
  • 2 parts plain yogurt to 1 part milk
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Molasses (if batter requires baking soda)

I have used the first two with success.

Source: Cook's Thesaurus

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I have good success with using the yogurt/milk combo. I usually do 1/2 and 1/2 but it probably depends on how thick your yogurt is. –  Kiesa Jul 24 '10 at 22:47
I've also done a mix of yogurt and water (about 3:2), but it was for a yeast dough, not chemically leavened, so I don't know if I managed to get the acid balance correct or not, but it came out fine. –  Joe Jul 25 '10 at 4:09
I know that baking can demand a bit more precision. Has anyone experimented with the different methods and ratios? Looking at making a cake using one of these substitutions. –  Justin Nathanael Waters Nov 7 '12 at 15:51

You can use the aforementioned substitutions for buttermilk but keep in mind that they will produce a slightly different flavor due to the types of acids and their flavor profiles:

-Buttermilk = lactic acid

-Lemon juice = citric acid

-Vinegar = acetic acid

Chemically they will work the same however.

Sour cream or yogurt thinned with milk to the consistency of buttermilk will probably give you the closest substitution in flavor.

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I've seen both milk + white vinegar or milk + lemon juice mentioned as substitutes. I've only tried the former, and that worked great. I've used a ratio of 1 cup milk to 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

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