Buttermilk , also known as buttermilk , is a fermented dairy ingredient that provides a tart, creamy flavor to various culinary preparations. Surely you have seen it indicated as an ingredient in many baking recipes, or you are familiar with seeing it in supermarkets, because its use has become very popular. With reason! In addition to its flavor, buttermilk has properties that benefit your baking, pastry, and cooking recipes in general.

In this post you will see:

  • What is buttermilk?
  • How is it prepared,
  • in what recipes it is used, and
  • How to replace it if you don't have it on hand.

How to make buttermilk

What is buttermilk?

Buttermilk, in English, is a fermented milk drink that is obtained as a byproduct of the butter manufacturing process. Traditionally, it was made by letting the cream of the milk rest after it had been churned to obtain the butter. During this rest, the lactic bacteria present in the cream converted part of the lactose into lactic acid, which fermented the drink and gave it its characteristic flavor.

Buttermilk has a slightly thicker consistency than milk and a tart, creamy flavor. It is a common ingredient in many baking, pastry and cooking recipes in general. Its acidity helps activate baking soda in recipes, which helps baked goods rise and become fluffier in texture. Additionally, it is used to marinate meats and poultry, as it helps soften the fibers of the meat and improve its flavor.

How to prepare buttermilk (homemade buttermilk preparation)

If you can't find buttermilk in your supermarket (most of them already have it, in the refrigerated dairy section, near the yogurts), you can easily prepare it at home*. To do this, you will only need:


  • 1 cup of milk (about 250 - 300 ml of milk, preferably whole)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar (10 ml)


  1. Pour the lemon juice or vinegar into the milk and stir.
  2. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for approximately 10-15 minutes.
  3. After that time, the milk will have thickened slightly and acidified, creating that whey that will work miracles in your recipes.

*Important: this is the current fastest, easiest and most used way to make buttermilk at home very quickly. If you want to do it the traditional way, what you should do is beat whipping cream until you make butter (first it becomes cream, but when you continue beating the molecules break up and separate, until you make butter), and at that point You get the buttermilk the traditional way (you can see the recipe for making homemade butter here ).

How to make buttermilk

Uses of buttermilk in recipes

Buttermilk is a versatile ingredient that is used in a wide variety of recipes. Some of its common uses are :

  1. Pancakes and waffles: Buttermilk adds fluffiness and flavor to your pancakes and waffles preparations. Try replacing regular milk with buttermilk in your favorite recipe and be surprised with the result.

  2. Cakes, biscuits and muffins: By incorporating buttermilk into your cake and muffin batters, you will get lighter, moister baked biscuits. The acidity of the buttermilk also helps activate the baking soda and baking powder, achieving better rising of the dough.

  3. Marinades and Marinades: Buttermilk is excellent for marinating meats and poultry, since its acidity helps soften the fibers of the meat, resulting in more tender and flavorful dishes. You can add spices and herbs to your buttermilk to create a delicious marinade.

  4. Sauces and dressings: Buttermilk is used to make creamy sauces and dressings, such as ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing. As a base for salad dressings, you can mix it with herbs, spices, and other ingredients, and you can create creamy, refreshing dressings (like Swiss or Greek-type sauces).

  5. Soups and creams: Buttermilk can add creaminess and a touch of acidity to soups and creams, such as pumpkin soup or broccoli cream.

  6. Shakes and smoothies: Add buttermilk to your shakes or smoothies to give them a creamy flavor and mild acidity, which combines well with fruits and other ingredients.

  7. Homemade ice cream: If you have an ice cream maker, you can use buttermilk as a base to make homemade ice cream. Add your favorite flavors and enjoy creamy and delicious ice cream.

Remember that buttermilk is a very versatile ingredient, so you can experiment and find new ways to incorporate it into your favorite recipes. Have fun exploring its different uses!

How can you substitute buttermilk in a recipe?

If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can substitute it in a recipe using one of these alternatives:
  1. Yogurt: Yogurt, preferably unsweetened, can be a suitable alternative to buttermilk. For every cup of buttermilk you need, use 3/4 cup yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup water or milk to get a similar consistency. Mix well before using it in your recipe.

  2. Sour milk: If you have sour milk on hand, you can use it as a direct substitute for buttermilk. Sour milk is similar to buttermilk in terms of flavor and acidity. Use it in the same quantity indicated in the recipe. If you want, you can also reduce it and use ½ cup (120 grams) sour cream + ½ cup (120 grams) water as a substitute for 240 g of buttermilk.

  3. Kefir: the same amount of kefir will replace the buttermilk as is (if the recipe indicates 200 g of buttermilk, use 200 g of kefir instead).

  4. Greek yogurt and water: To replace 240 g of buttermilk, mix ⅓ cup (80 grams) of plain Greek yogurt and ⅔ cup (160 grams) of water.

Remember that when substituting buttermilk, there may be slight variations in the texture and flavor of the recipe, but these alternatives work well in most cases and will allow you to continue with your preparation without problems.

Additional note: Differences between Traditional and Commercial Buttermilk

Traditional buttermilk, generated after the process of making butter at home, usually has a more pronounced acidity and a slightly thicker consistency compared to its commercial counterpart. This homemade buttermilk is made by letting the cream rest after churning it to make butter, allowing the lactic acid bacteria to ferment some of the lactose. On the other hand, commercial buttermilk is usually a cultured and homogenized version, which can influence its flavor, acidity and, in some cases, its behavior in recipes. It is important to take this difference into account when substituting or using buttermilk in culinary preparations.

I hope that, if you haven't started already, you are encouraged to use buttermilk in your sweet recipes, because you will undoubtedly notice the difference, both in flavor and texture. Go for it!



Angeles Lopez said:

Yo utilizo el suero de hacer queso fresco en casa. De hecho se parece al buttermilk casero, ya que echas limon a la leche templada, por tanto lo que queda una vez escurrido el queso se parece bastante al suero de la mantequilla… Y se aprovecha algo que en otro caso se tiraria…

Silvia said:

Buenas noches.
Muy utiles vuestras aclaraciones , sirven de mucho esas referencias de sustitución. Pero tengo una duda :No se si os he entendido en el párrafo que hablais de buttermilk y nata. Se puede hacer lo mismo que con la leche el añadir limón, a la nata? Sería buttermilk? Yo diría butterbutter. Gracias

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