You might never buy a quart of buttermilk again.

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Everyone has run into this dilemma: A recipe calls for one quarter cup of buttermilk, but you don't have any on hand. Do you need to make a quick run to the grocery store for that one item? And if you do head out and buy a quart of buttermilk, how will you use up what's left? We have good news: You can make your own buttermilk substitute with ingredients that you probably already have lingering in your refrigerator. This means you will waste less and save money. Make the most of common ingredients like milk, yogurt, and vinegar to make your own buttermilk and your pancakes and biscuits will thank you.

cream in measuring cup on table
Credit: AlexeyBorodin / Getty Images

The Best Buttermilk Substitute

The simplest and most popular way to make your own buttermilk substitute is with whole milk and something acidic, like fresh lemon juice or vinegar. Before you reach for a bottle, know that not all vinegars are created equal for this purpose. Stay away from strong or overpowering vinegars like balsamic or red wine and opt for something a bit milder—apple cider, white wine, rice, or distilled white vinegars are our go-to choices. When making your easy buttermilk substitute, use this quick ratio: one cup milk plus two tablespoons acid. Stir it together and let it stand for just a few minutes to thicken. This homemade buttermilk will be a little looser than the store-bought option, but won't impact your bakes in the end.

Other Options

Swapping out buttermilk for a different tart ingredient is an alternative option. For baked goods, look for ingredients that hit similar tart notes to buttermilk. Full-fat strained yogurt (often labeled as Greek yogurt in the store), sour cream, or crème fraiche are great options. They add a bit of sour flavor and you can buy them in smaller amounts, so you won't waste as much (if any). Whether you choose to make your own buttermilk or use a substitute ingredient, we are sure your baked goods will bake up to perfection.

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