Buttermilk Substitute: 9 ingenious and simple alternatives

The buttermilk is therefore a by-product of butter production, to which lactic acid bacteria are added so that it gets its wonderfully slightly sour taste. Compared to conventional milk, buttermilk contains much less fat – just 1%.

Buttermilk is used in many baked goods, from cakes to waffles to pancakes, as it brings a special flavor note into play, but also activating properties for raising agents.

As a baking fan, I, therefore, use them a lot. However, every now and then it is either used up or sold out – and then a replacement has to be found. If you are also looking for a substitute for buttermilk, you will definitely find it in this article. Here I’ll tell you everything about the best substitute ingredients for buttermilk.

How can you replace buttermilk in general?

Buttermilk can best be replaced by other dairy products that are either diluted and/or acidified a little. Vegans can also use soy products and bring them closer to the typical buttermilk taste.

1. Kefir as a buttermilk substitute

I have successfully used kefir instead of buttermilk several times in baking. Since the products are very similar in consistency, I simply take the same amount.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink with a slightly sour taste. However, in addition to lactic acid bacteria, it also contains yeast – and therefore small amounts of carbon dioxide and alcohol.

Similar to yoghurt, kefir is made through a fermentation process, in which, in addition to lactic acid bacteria such as Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus acidophilus, yeasts […] are involved, which produce carbonic acid and alcohol.

2. Milk instead of buttermilk

If nothing else is available, you can also use regular milk. However, you should acidify them first to mimic the taste of buttermilk.

Add 250 ml of milk, a tablespoon of citric acid, or vinegar, and let the milk thicken for around 15 minutes.

If the milk has curdled too much, you can simply clarify it with a sieve.

3. Replace buttermilk with yogurt

Choose a runny type of yogurt that is similar in texture to buttermilk. A yogurt enriched with bifidobacteria is perfect because it is slightly acidic.

4. Sour milk as an alternative to buttermilk

Sour milk is very similar to buttermilk in terms of taste, but it is a bit thicker and creamier. It is an ideal substitute for buttermilk when baking bread, cakes, and cookies.

5. Diluted quark as an alternative to buttermilk

Do you only have quark in the fridge? No problem: with a tablespoon of vinegar or citric acid, the quark becomes a diluted variant that is very similar to yogurt.

Depending on the intended use, you can further dilute the quark until it meets your requirements.

6. Replace buttermilk with sour cream

Sour cream has a fat content of around 10%. It is particularly suitable for no-bake cakes.

This variant also goes into overtime. In most cases, however, you can save the souring – unless you bake with baking soda. Then you should take into account the note at the end of the article,

7. Use sour cream instead of buttermilk

Sour cream is very similar to sour cream but has a fat content of around 20%. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, use sour cream instead.

You can mix it with milk and acid to create the right consistency.

What vegan alternatives to buttermilk are there?

If you follow a vegan diet, you don’t have to go without delicious muffins, pancakes, or waffles.

You can easily make vegan buttermilk yourself. Here I’ll show you how it’s done!

8. Vegan buttermilk made from soy milk

To make vegan buttermilk, you take 500 ml soy milk and stir in two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes. The vegan buttermilk is especially delicious if you add a pinch of cinnamon.

9. Vegan buttermilk made from soy yogurt

Vegan buttermilk can also be made from soy yogurt. Mix the yogurt with water or vegetable milk (soy, rice, or almond milk) and lemon juice.

Let the mixture sit for about a minute.

How can you replace buttermilk in baking?

Now you know what alternatives to buttermilk there are and how you can even make vegan buttermilk yourself if necessary.

But which substitute product is used in which recipe? I’ll tell you in this short guide.

Substitute for buttermilk when baking muffins

A muffin for breakfast is heavenly and tastes really good with a cup of coffee. There is seldom a single muffin – that’s why I advise you to bake in advance.

If you have to find out that you don’t have any buttermilk in the house and the nearest supermarket has already closed, you can also use milk.

Personally, I find that yogurt, kefir, or sour milk are best used as a buttermilk substitute for muffins. This way the muffins rise and come out of the oven nice and fluffy.

Substitute for buttermilk when baking cakes

The question here is which cake is it all about? As a rule, I advise you to replace buttermilk with milk when baking cakes, but yogurt is also quite good.

Basically, if you replace buttermilk with a dairy product and do not extend it with water or milk, your cake will be much more compact. Sometimes even soggy or greasy. Especially if you rely on sour cream or sour cream.

But in the end, it always depends on your personal taste as well as on the cake that you are currently baking. You can experiment here.

Substitute for buttermilk when baking bread

When baking bread and rolls, I would personally replace buttermilk with milk.

Another option is yogurt – you can even stretch it with water to give it a consistency closest to that of buttermilk.

By the way: When you bake your next bread, be sure to try baking malt. Or a substitute like honey.

Replace buttermilk with pancakes

Pancakes, pancakes, please: the delicious round pieces have many names.

The Americans call them pancakes, drizzle them with Canadian maple syrup and enjoy them for breakfast.

If you want to prepare pancakes but don’t have any buttermilk in the fridge, you can simply use milk or diluted yogurt as a substitute

Substitute for buttermilk when baking waffles

Waffles are a great snack between meals. They taste best with powdered sugar and fresh berries.

Use milk, kefir, or yogurt as a buttermilk substitute for waffles.

Baking recipes with baking soda: You have to take this into account when using buttermilk substitutes

Baking soda can be used as a baking powder substitute in baking. However, it only fulfills its role as a leavening agent if the dough is acidic.

This is why baking soda is often added to buttermilk. You can also use kefir or yogurt, as both products contain enough acid.

Alternatively, you can replace baking soda with baking powder – but this has a minimal effect on the taste.

Which buttermilk substitute is lactose-free?

If you are lactose intolerant, you should of course also make sure that you only choose lactose-free products for buttermilk substitutes.

In addition, all-vegan products that serve as buttermilk substitutes are guaranteed to be lactose-free.


The easiest way to replace buttermilk is with diluted yogurt or acidified milk. In many cases, however, the other alternatives produce equally good and sometimes even very special results.

Vegans can safely use acidified plant milk or dilute a vegan yogurt.

In any case, the following applies: I hope you have found a suitable buttermilk substitute and can now complete your recipe. I wish you success!