“Out of buttermilk? No problem! Try these 2 great buttermilk substitutions using lemon juice (or vinegar) or cream of tartar!”

Check out my video for my favorite ways how to make buttermilk below!

As you may have noticed already…..I love buttermilk!!!! I use it a lot here on Divas Can Cook and it’s one of my favorite ingredients to cook with.

I swear it makes for the best cakes, pancakes, biscuits, bread, salad dressing, chicken brines….you name it!! One day I’ll get around to posting a 100% homemade buttermilk recipe but today let’s talk about great buttermilk substitutions!

Many of us don’t keep buttermilk in stock. For me, it’s usually an item that I only buy when I know I’m making something that needs buttermilk, which you would think is often right?

how to make buttermilk

A lot of the time when a recipe calls for buttermilk I use a substitution.

So let’s look at how to turn regular milk into buttermilk!

There are several ways to turn whole milk or plain yogurt into a buttermilk substitute but my favorite two methods use lemon juice/white distilled vinegar or cream of tartar.

Now, remember these are only great substitutes when you’re in a pinch. NOTHING beats using the real buttermilk in your recipes so if you can get your hands on traditional buttermilk, get it for the best results.

OK so let’s say you don’t have any buttermilk on hand and there is no way in the world you are about to hit the grocery stores at 7:25 in the morning just because your kids want homemade buttermilk pancakes or waffles!

Let me show you what to do! First, let’s do the most common method which is using lemon juice or white distilled vinegar.

How to Make Buttermilk Using Lemon Juice or Vinegar

buttermilk substitution



  • Milk
  • Lemon juice or white vinegar


For 1 cup of buttermilk….

  1. Measure out 1 cup of whole milk. (I’ve even used almond milk before)
  2. Remove a tablespoon of the milk.
  3. Now add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white distilled vinegar.
  4. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Your buttermilk substitute is now ready to use!!! It will have a few curds in it which is perfect!

How To Make Buttermilk Using Cream of Tartar

buttermilk with cream of tartar

Now let’s move on to the cream of tartar method. Some folks claim to be able to taste the tangy flavor of lemon or vinegar in certain recipes.  Using cream of tartar can fix that problem.

To use cream of tartar to make buttermilk….


  • whole milk
  • cream of tartar

For 1 cup of buttermilk……

  1. Measure out 1 cup of warm milk. ( I just pop it in the microwave  for a few seconds to get the cup of milk to get it warm.)
  2. Next stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. Stir vigorously to prevent clumping.
  3. Let sit for 15 minutes and now it’s ready to use!! If you let it sit longer it will become really thick like buttermilk.


  1. Can I use dairy-free milk to make vegan buttermilk? Absolutely! I’ve made homemade buttermilk with almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and pea protein milk with success.
  2. Can I freeze buttermilk? Yes! Check out my post on how to freeze buttermilk in ice cube trays for freezer-friendly buttermilk cubes
  3. Can I use apple cider vinegar? White distilled works best
  4. Can I use baking soda or vitamin c tablets? I have personally never tried these two methods.
  5. Can I use this to make ranch dressing? I prefer real buttermilk for creamy dressing recipes however some people don’t mind a looser dressing.
  6. Can I use skim milk? Yes, you can but whole milk works the best. When I have to use a whole milk alternative I’ll sometimes add a bit of melted butter, but that optional

Never run out of real buttermilk again! Freeze it!

How To Freeze Buttermilk

Ready to take that homemade buttermilk for a test spin?

What can you use your buttermilk substitutions for? It works great for baking but I’m not a fan of it in homemade salad dressings and brines. I use only real buttermilk for those! Try homemade buttermilk out with these recipes below!

homemade cinnamon rolls easy

Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Fritter Bread Recipe

Apple Fritter Bread

red velvet brownies recipe 3

Red Velvet Brownies

Get the Recipe: How To Make Buttermilk (Vinegar, Cream Tartar)

5 from 1 rating
Ran out of buttermilk? Try this easy buttermilk substitution!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 cup


For Lemon Juice Method

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white distilled vinegar

For Cream of Tartar Method:

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar


  • Remove 1 tablespoon of milk.
  • Replace it with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white distilled vinegar.
  • Stir.
  • Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use for the desired recipe.
  • For the cream of tartar method:
  • Mix cream of tartar with warm milk.
  • Stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Let sit for 15-30 minutes.
  • Use for the desired recipe.


Cuisine: American, southern
Author: Divas Can Cook
Tried this recipe?Mention @divascancook on Instagram or tag #divascancook.