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

Are you are visual learner? Check out my video recipe for buttermilk substitutions below!

As you may have noticed already…..I love buttermilk!!!! I use it a lot here on Divas Can Cook.

I swear it makes for the best cakes, pancakes, biscuits, breads, 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?

buttermilk substitution

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

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

Now remember these are only great substitutes. Nothing beats using the real deal in your recipes so if you can get your hands on real 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 go to the store  at 7:25 in morning just because your kids want homemade pancakes!

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

Buttermilk Using Lemon Juice or Vinegar

buttermilk substitution

For 1 cup of buttermilk….

Measure out 1 cup of whole milk. (I’ve even used almond milk before)

Remove a tablespoon of the milk.

Now add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white distilled vinegar.

Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Your buttermilk substitute is now ready to use!!! It will have a few curds in it which is perfect!

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 lemon or vinegar in certain recipes when using the above method. Using cream of tartar can fix that problem.

To use cream of tartar to make buttermilk….

For 1 cup of buttermilk……

Measure out 1 cup of warm milk. ( I just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to get it warm.)

Next stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. Stir vigorously to prevent clumping.

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.

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, brines or butter syrups.  I use only real buttermilk for those!

Wanna be naughty?

Give your new buttermilk a test spin! Try these delicious recipes that work great with buttermilk substitutions!

homemade cinnamon rolls easy

Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Fritter Bread Recipe

Apple Fritter Bread

red velvet brownies recipe 3

Red Velvet Brownies

The Recipe

How To Make Buttermilk (Vinegar, Cream Tartar)

By Divas Can Cook
5.0 from 1 reviews


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white distilled vinegar
  • For cream of tartar method:
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar


  1. Remove 1 tablespoon of milk.
  2. Replace it with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white distilled vinegar.
  3. Stir.
  4. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Use for the desired recipe.
  6. For cream of tartar method:
  7. Mix cream of tartar with the warm milk.
  8. Stir until completely combined.
  9. Let sit for 15-30 minutes.
  10. Use for the desired recipe.