How to Make Buttermilk and Cook like a Pro – 2017 Edition (And 15 Best Buttermilk Recipes)

Hey, what's up dear readers? It has been a while since we have last discussed something about kitchen ingredients, like buttermilk. Lately, I've been receiving emails and questions on how to make buttermilk, recipes to make with it and other things about it. That's why I have decided to put up this (complete) guide on the topic.

First of all, let us have a little introduction on buttermilk. It tastes tangy and creamy (Think plain yogurt). And just like cheese, it is a cultured dairy product used in recipes calling for some acidity on it. A few examples include desserts. [Does anyone here would love some chocolate cake or red velvet cupcake, which can be conveniently sliced with a knife and paired with a hot cup of coffee??]

When used for baking or cooking, buttermilk makes a dish or a desert better tasting. It can also be used in recipes calling for milk or cream. You might also need it in almost any cookies, cakes or biscuits, especially if you want to come up with a lighter or tender batter.

[What happens is that once its acidity reaches the baking powder or baking soda, a funfest happens. The reaction that occurs takes out the sourness of our buttermilk, leaving our desserts tender, airy and tasty!]

But perhaps, you're wondering how it is made? Real buttermilk comes from churned milk when traditional butter is made.

However, it isn't easy to achieve it without putting enough effort, so there is often not enough of it to sell commercially. So instead of putting in the extra effort and time required, many companies would sour regular milk, labeling it as cultured buttermilk.

What's the difference of true buttermilk and the cultured type?

The taste is the same, as both can render sour acidity. The only difference is that true buttermilk can provide that added creaminess to dishes.

Because the taste of the two cannot be differentiated, cultured buttermilk is often used for recipes requiring true buttermilk.

[The only time you can recognize the difference between true and cultured buttermilk is when you don't cook it or when you use it as a drink, such as when you want something different aside from your daily dose of latte or cold coffee with chunks of ice.]

Regardless of the type and manufacturing process, buttermilk has many culinary uses. It can be used for making smoothies, custard, pancakes, marinade, pizzelle and so much more. The sky is the limit!

But then sometimes you could be running out of its supply in your kitchen or fridge, or you forgot to buy a carton of it in the store. This could be a kitchen disaster if you're not able to make use of it when your recipe is calling for it. Worry not, as you'll learn how to make buttermilk in easy steps (and methods) in the following section.

Learning of ways to make buttermilk will help make our lives in the kitchen a breeze (and happier). Aside from using the best appliances, such as a rice cooker, we all need a resource on how to make cooking and baking easier and more fun! So no matter what you’re cooking/baking level is you may want to try the simple and delicious buttermilk recipes that you’re about to learn below.​

Ways To Make Buttermilk

During times when you need it for pancakes, but you don't find it anywhere, or you don't need a pack of it but only one-half cup, you can make it at home with some ingredients. In the following, I have put together and divided ways on how to make it using different methods so that you will have plenty of options in creating your own at home anytime you need it. Just choose which of these ingredients you already have in your kitchen and start making buttermilk.​

1. Using Regular Milk with Vinegar or Lemon Juice

Aside from being used in making freshly made juices in a juicer, lemons can be used in making buttermilk. But either lemon juice or vinegar is acidic. You can use any of them.

Either is a perfect ingredient in making homemade buttermilk, especially dairy-free ones. You can use the same amount of either when using it for making buttermilk using regular milk.

Just take note to let your mixture sit in the kitchen for 10 minutes before using it. Don’t expect this substitute to be thick as real buttermilk though. Buttermilk made with vinegar is a great substitute for real buttermilk when making Rosemary biscuits or Pumpkin pancakes for a Southern taste for your goodies.

Step 1

Get a scant CUP of milk (or heavy cream, whole milk or 2% milk)

Step 2

Add one spoonful of white vinegar or lemon juice.

Step 3

1. Stir your mixture manually or with a quiet food processor.

Step 4

Let it stand for up to 10 minutes.

Step 5               

Notice when the milk starts slightly thickening as well as curdled bits. This substitute won't come out very thick, but it is enough to satisfy your pancake recipe make it tasty. And don't worry. The curdled bits won't be in pancakes.


2. Using Whole Milk

When cooking with any dish calling for buttermilk, including those with sage, you can make your buttermilk substitute using whole milk. You don't have to fret because you can do it easy. Check out the following for the steps.

Step 1

Prepare your ingredients: 3 cups of whole milk and a cup of cultured buttermilk.

Step 2

Pour the buttermilk into your jar and then the milk.

Step 3

Shake the jar up.

Step 4

Set the mixture aside for one day to thicken the buttermilk.

Step 5                     

If you have leftover buttermilk after your recipe, just put the jar in the fridge for up a couple of weeks. Now if you were to use non-homogenized milk or raw milk, the buttermilk is more likely separate, and it will culture on its own. As a result is a European sour cream or Crème Fraiche.


3. Using Cream of Tartar

It is a versatile kitchen ingredient, and it has an acid taste but less intense flavor than vinegar or lemon juice. It is used for stabilizing eggs white when making soufflés. This method is good news for dieters because it does not use a cream on it. [Cream of tartar or potassium bitartrate is a wine byproduct.]

Step 1

Get a measuring cup and pour one cup of regular milk.

Step 2

Add one and ¾ teaspoons of cream of tartar.

Step 3

Set it aside for about five minutes until your mixture is curdled or slightly thickened.


4. Using Yogurt

Using Yogurt

This is another versatile ingredient to use when making homemade buttermilk, especially if you want to achieve those light and fluffy pancakes anytime. Yogurt is good for digestion and it has antioxidants, so it can definitely add more health benefits to your cooking or baking aside from making it taste good. Sometimes it is also used in recipes with meat cut thinly by a slicer.

Step 1

Get your measuring cup and measure three-fourth cup of plain yogurt.

Step 2

Add ¼ cup of water to thin the mixture.

Step 3

That's it! You can use it as you would use buttermilk in your cooking.


5. Using Sour Cream

Using Sour Cream

Sour cream is another versatile cooking ingredient with plenty of uses, aside from being used as nacho dips or an ingredient in protein recipes. It is a useful component of this homemade buttermilk. Check out how to make homemade buttermilk with it.

Step 1

Measure ¾ cup of sour cream.

Step 2

Add ¼ cup of water to thin your mixture.


6. Using Kefir

If you need buttermilk but you don’t have it, make one using Kefir, a creamy cultured product. It has a refreshing and tart taste. Think yogurt. Aside from being tangy in taste, it is also known for its healthy bacteria and yeast for digestion.

Step 1

Get some kefir (just as the same amount that you would need in your recipe).

Step 2

Thin it with plain water or milk until you achieved the same consistency of buttermilk.


7. Using Raw Milk

If you have nothing but only raw milk, which you also use in a smoothie made using a milkshake blender, at home, then you can make use of it as a substitute for whole milk when making buttermilk. This method isn’t as easy as the other methods here, but it is worth to try for the excellent results you can achieve with it.

Step 1

Let a cup of filtered fresh raw milk sitting in the kitchen for several days or until you have noticed its change in appearance – a clabbered one.

Step 2

Put a cup of the clabbered milk in a jar, and then add one cup of fresh milk.

Step 3

Cover the jar and shake it.

Step 4

Again, set it aside at room temperature until the fresh milk is clabbered with the raw milk. (You don't need to use raw milk for the fresh milk ingredient).

Step 5    

Repeat the same procedure of sub-culturing a couple of time until your mixture clabber within 24 hours.

Step 6

For the taste test, taste only a small amount to check if the mixture has thickened and it is tart but without bad flavors (NO BITTER TASTE).

Step 7

To make a quart of buttermilk using your cultured product, just add six ounces of it to jar with fresh milk. Then, cover, shake and let it sit until it is clabbered.


8. Making Buttermilk with Curd


9. Using Powdered Milk

Now if you don't have raw milk, whole milk or any regular liquid milk, worry not! Use powdered milk. Just use the prescribed amount as highlighted below for that homemade buttermilk for your recipe.Get a cup of water.

Step 1

Get a cup of water.

Step 2

Add 1/3 cup of powdered milk.

Step 3

Mix them well.

Step 4

Add one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.

Step 5         

Mix it well and set it aside for up to 10 minutes before adding to your recipe, such as that cooked in a steamer. [This substitute for buttermilk isn’t for drinking, but cooking or baking only].


Bonus Tricks 

1

Buttermilk doesn’t only make scrambled eggs tastier but it also makes our pancakes perkier. But when it’s not available, just combine and shake one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice and one cup of milk, and then let it sit for five minutes before whisking for that quick and easy buttermilk.

Thanks to Bite Me More for sharing this tip!

2

Buttermilk has many uses and you can out that in the fridge or beverage cooler when there are leftovers. This leftover can be used for delicious fried chickens.

Thanks to the people at ESQUIRE for sharing this tip!

3

Some tips when storing or freezing:

Freeze it in its original container. However, make sure that you remove some of its content because it will expand when frozen. You can pour some of the content in another freezer safe container. Just see to it that your container is large enough to handle it when it's frozen [and expanded].

The ice cube method: Pour the content of the package in ice cube trays. Put it in the refrigerator. When frozen, take them out from the trays before putting them in a freezer bag. Using this method, you can conveniently thaw only the buttermilk that you need. Take note of the expiry date, though, and label the bag.

Big thanks to Can You Freeze This for such amazing storage tips!

4

Use buttermilk in your baked goodies, including buttermilk pancakes, Irish soda bread, Chocolate cakes, Churros and Red Velvet pancakes. You can also watch her video on the link shared below.

Thanks to Gemma Stafford for sharing this tip!

5

You can perpetuate Heirloom Buttermilk Starter from batch to batch, and you only need to buy it once. It is a traditional method of making buttermilk that only needs fresh milk and a starter culture, making it an economical choice. You can use it indefinitely in making cultured buttermilk from time to time. For a larger batch of up to one-half gallon per container, you can use one tablespoon of buttermilk for every cup of milk. You can also view the entire procedure and other options given using the link that follows.

Thanks to Cultures for Health for sharing such amazing tutorials!

6

Another easy method when you need to make a cup of buttermilk is to make use of ¾ cup of sour cream or yogurt, and then thin it out using one-fourth cup of plain water or milk. You can use it for whatever recipe is calling for buttermilk.

Thanks to About.com for this useful trick in making easy buttermilk substitute!


Pro Tips from Other Bloggers

All of us want to learn from the pros, and I do, too! That is why I have scoured the web and look for valuable tips from other bloggers about our beloved buttermilk. Many websites are providing such tips in making one as well as cooking or baking with it, but I only selected those that have given us with useful tips and tricks that we can easily follow.​

Taste of Home

1. Taste of Home is a useful source when finding cooking tips and delectable recipes that even amateurs like us can make use of, and it offers valuable guides that can make our lives in the kitchen easier so that we can have more time with the most important people in our lives.

For buttermilk, the site shares useful tips and tricks on how to make a substitute when cooking or preparing recipes calling for it. Contributor of the site says that we can just add lemon juice or vinegar to milk to create homemade buttermilk. For every cup of buttermilk that we need, we just have to combine one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar and then a cup of milk. We can simply stir this mixture and let it stand for five minutes. As an alternative, the experts say that we can replace lemon juice or vinegar with one 3/4 teaspoons of cream of tartar or a cup of plain yogurt for every cup of milk.


Home Cooking About

2. Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, a contributor at Home Cooking About, shares her cooking tips and hints when using buttermilk. She said that it is not only excellent for baked goodies, but also for a salad dressing base and soup due to it hearty flavor with less the guilt as compared to using cream or milk. She added that it has a tangy flavor to go well with fruits, including pears, cherries, and peaches, especially as sour cream or creme fraiche. Peggy added that its acidic properties also make an efficient and delicious marinade for poultry. Finally, she said that using it also improves texture and promotes the browning of biscuits and cookies, among other baked goodies.


MENLogo

3. Mother Earth News is a great source for people who want to stay at the peak of their health using natural ingredients. On the site, you can find tips on how to bake with buttermilk. One of the site contributors, Lin Nowicki, shares her cooking and baking secrets using buttermilk. Lin shares that we can convert our traditional milk recipe into a buttermilk one by cutting the amount of baking powder we need in half, and then add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in every small batch.

However, we should not alter the amount of salt required in the recipe. Finally, we can replace regular milk with buttermilk. She added that we could cut down the amount of baking powder without making our biscuits flat.


Jess Pryles

4. We all want to come up with the best biscuits all the time, in the same way that we want tender and tasty roasted meats in our pellet grill. Jess shares some tips on how to make the best buttermilk biscuits. Some suggestions include using a pastry cutter, making your mix very dry with the right consistency, and not twisting your cutter. Finally, the blogger shared that you should stack your biscuits close regardless you are using a baking tray or a skillet. According to the site, the biscuits should be all connected and touching sides so that they can provide support for each other and that they rise higher.



The Kitchn

5. The Kitchn is a rich source of ideas, tips, and tricks for cooks, bakers and chefs! I find it really helpful to find a site like it that is generous enough in sharing its knowledge with the world. On the site, we can find tips on how to freeze buttermilk. It states that we can freeze it in portions in ice cube trays before transferring it to a freezer bag. In the process, we can just pull out a number of tablespoons we need for a particular recipe. And when it is necessary, just thaw the cubes overnight in your fridge or melt them using a microwave. But before using it, see to it that you whisk the buttermilk, or, you can run it on a blender to reincorporate the whey and the solids that separated due to freezing.


cooksillustrated

6. I love this website, and maybe you do, too. It is loaded with cooking tips and tricks and other cooking guides we need to make our dishes more delicious and cooking simpler. On the site, they published commonly asked questions about buttermilk and answered those to help us understand those concerns better.


noblepig

7. Noble Pig is an excellent information source for cooks and bakers. On this particular post, you can find tips and tricks on how to make your buttermilk biscuits even yummier. It shares that you should be able to brush the tops of your biscuits with melted butter in the last minutes of baking for the best results. Check out the source for delicious high-rise biscuits!


Food52

8. Food52 is another valuable cooking and baking source. You can find every bit of information you need for making delicious dishes for your loved ones. The post I found is about tips on making fluffier pancakes, and that's stirring in your egg white during the end for a bounce to your cakes, no matter what kind of buttermilk you're planning to use. Check out more useful cooking and baking tips on the website.


foodrenegade

9. It is another rich source of buttermilk information that you can find on the web. Check it out and learn how and why you should make your own buttermilk, which can be used for ranch dressing, pancakes, and biscuits.


Miss Thrifty Logo

10. Miss Thrifty shares us some tips and tricks on how to use buttermilk in our cooking. One of those it added is how to make chicken marinated in buttermilk, soy sauce, and honey. You can just cut the chicken up and soften it in the marinade for a few hours before frying in olive oil. Visit the site for the entire guide in the link above.


clemson logo

11. Check out this useful source that teaches us how to handling dairy products, including buttermilk. When it comes to buttermilk, it stated that it must be handled with care as we would with fluid milk. In that case, we should not leave it out at room temperature, but in the fridge. For the entire list of safety guidelines with dairy, you may want to read it on the site.


foodprepper logo

12. On Food Prepper, you can learn about shelf life and storage of buttermilk. According to it, powdered variants will usually have an expiration of up to three years, but it can last longer when unopened and stored in the freezer. For the entire list of tips, you can head on to the site and read more on how to use powdered buttermilk in baked goods.


budgetbytes

13. Budget Bytes is a rich information source for things that can help us save money while getting the most out of life. On the website, you can find information on the uses of buttermilk and many other related details about what it is.


Correcting Common Problems

Correcting Common Problems

How can I tell if my buttermilk has gone bad?

Sometimes, it could be hard to differentiate if it has gone bad or not because it is acidic by nature. As a general rule of thumb, it should not taste bitter, has a pungent odor or if it started coagulating in chunks.

How can I tell the difference between curd and buttermilk?

Buttermilk is what's left after churning out milk, while the cream is made by coagulating milk through curdling.

Can I make butter from buttermilk?

You cannot.

I don't have buttermilk but it is being called for in my red velvet cake recipe, what should I do? Should I skip it?

No, you don't have to skip it. Instead, try making buttermilk from one of the methods shared above. Many of them are easy.

Can I freeze buttermilk?

Yes, you can! You can freeze it using one of the methods I have shared earlier. For one, you can use ice cube trays for it so that you can thaw just the needed amount of buttermilk required in your recipe.

How long can I store it?

Just like knowing how long to store your leftover smoothie with milkshake blender in the fridge, you should also learn how long you should store buttermilk. Sources say it will be best to use it within the first week, especially for drinking purposes. But to be safe of course, you should always refer to the expiration date on the carton and always keep it refrigerated once opened.

How can I use it for fried chicken?

Perfectly cut chicken breast meat using a slicer is delicious when marinated with buttermilk, honey, and soy sauce, among other spices you love to use. Marinade it for a day for the best results.

Should I skip the breading when using buttermilk for marinating meat?

No, you should not, if you want your fried chicken crispy and crunchy. After all, the breading can also keep your meat moist.

Can I cook fried chicken even without buttermilk?

Yes, you can. There are two ways you can cook chicken meat. It is either you put flour on it or you batter it. And then, you can also bread it. If you go for battering, you need buttermilk before double dipping that in flour. If you don't want the buttermilk, then you can flour your meat. You just season it before tossing into flour before frying.

What can be used in place of buttermilk for a fried chicken?

You can dilute plain yogurt or Greek yogurt in water until you get the same consistency as you would with buttermilk. Or, you can make use of the methods shared above for substitutes to use when there is no buttermilk around.

Is there gluten in buttermilk?

Pure buttermilk doesn't have gluten.​

Conclusion

There you have our long (but sweet) guide on our beloved buttermilk that you can make use of when you need reference on making buttermilk, recipes to cook with it, some tips and tricks in using it and more. Definitely, there are many sources that can help us find simple ways on how to cook or bake with this great kitchen ingredient. [Don’t forget bookmarking this page for a quick reference.]

The next time you have leftover buttermilk, you can use these recipe ideas to turn that ordinary day into an exciting one. Or, you can make your homemade skin cleanser using this versatile buttermilk ingredient, and with that, you can save some money and your skin from harmful chemicals found in some skin cleansers. This time around, you can make an organic yet effective cleanser from home with buttermilk skin cleanser.

I hope that you enjoy reading this guide and that you get some tidbits of information on cooking/baking with buttermilk as well as how to make buttermilk yourself.

Resources & Further Reading

Olivia Rose
 

Hey, everyone! I’m Olivia. It isn’t alway easy being a lifelong foodie in love with both cooking blogs and her two small boys. If my lifelong fascination with healthy, delicious, and practical cooking from around the globe has taught me anything, though, it’s that nothing feels as deeply rewarding as preparing fancy and fabulous meals for my wonderful family. My community of fellow dedicated blogging moms only feeds my ambition to learn something new from every recipe.

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