Homemade “Buttermilk”

It’s a snowy vacation day for me, so for some reason I decided it was about time that I make Pinch of Yum’s Summertime fried chicken sandwich , because why not? So I set about preparing everything, made a list of what I was missing and headed to the store. Much to my dismay they had zero buttermilk. Now I’m not one to be dissuaded when I’ve made up my mind, so I set about to making my own “buttermilk”.

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Now before I upset anyone on the internet this is NOT traditional buttermilk or even cultured buttermilk. It’s technically a substitute that you can use when you are in the pinch. Which is why I used the quotes around “buttermilk”. Cause damn the internet can be a vicious place! I am planning to try my hand a making both traditional buttermilk (and butter) as well as cultured buttermilk (using 2 different techniques). So before we jump into making this down and dirty substitute, let’s take a quick look at what buttermilk actually is.

What is buttermilk?

This question alone is enough to piss people off. There are technically two types of buttermilk. You have traditional buttermilk and cultured buttermilk. It is important to realize that they are very different in consistency, taste and usage.

Traditional Buttermilk

This is actually the by-product of the butter making process. It is created when the butter separates from the cream. It tends to be thin, yellowish, non-acidic with a sweetish taste. See the name makes perfect sense now!

Cultured buttermilk

This is a fermented dairy drink, and we know that anything fermented is good for our bellies (more specifically for our gut bacteria). This type of buttermilk is made from milk that has had the addition of certain bacteria. Typically it is either Lactococcus lactis or Lactobacillus bulgaricus with the addition of Leuconostoc citrovorum. It is thicker than regular milk and tends to leave residue on glass. It is also acidic which is why it can be used to help as a leavening agent.

Buttermilk uses

There are many uses for buttermilk in the kitchen. It can be used to make soda bread or pancakes where the acid in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to produce carbon dioxide which acts as a leavening agent. This makes for light and fluffy pancakes. It is also great for marinating pork or chicken. Again it is the acid we have to thank, as it helps to tenderize the meat, allowing more flavours to get in. This is why I need it for the fried chicken sandwich! Some people like to drink it as well, but I will pass on this one.

How to make “buttermilk”

Lucky for me (and you) this buttermilk substitute is quite easy to make at home. You only need two ingredients and chances are you have both of them in your refrigerator right now!

Just milk and lemon juice. I live in Canada so don’t let the bagged milk freak you out. If lemon juice isn’t your thing you can also use plain vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead. I use mason jars for just about everything. So of course I grabbed a 500ml wide mouth mason jar to make my homemade buttermilk. I also snagged these incredibly handy twist on plastic ball mason jar lids. I originally got them for my lunch meal prep, but they are also handy for things like this, or when I make my homemade mayonnaise.

As an aside, I am always trying to cut down on my use of plastics. So I had to do some thinking before I bought these. In the end my rational was that it removes the need to any Tupperware and I will use them for years. Also they are leakproof which I needed if I’m lugging jars full of food to work each day.

Homemade buttermilk

Once you have your container of choice, measure out the milk and pour it into your container.

Homemade buttermilk

Give it a good shake, or if you are more civil a then you can just go ahead and give it a good stir. Then you can pop it in the fridge and set a timer for 10 minutes.

Homemade buttermilk

After 10 minutes you should have yourself some buttermilk. Which pretty much just looks like curdled milk, but it gets the job done. You can use it right away as I did, or you can leave it in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Homemade “Buttermilk”

While this isn’t real buttermilk by any stretch of the imagination, but it will work in a pinch!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buttermilk
Servings: 1 Cup
Calories: 120kcal


  • Mason jar and lid


  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1.5 Tbsp Lemon juice You can also use vinegar or apple cider vinegar


  • Add one cup of milk into a mason jar.
  • Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice OR plain vinegar OR apple cider vinegar (Only 1, whatever you do, do NOT add all three).
  • Screw on lid and give the jar a good shake.
  • Put it in the fridge and set a time for 10 minutes.


This “buttermilk” can be kept in the fridge for 4 days.

There you have it, homemade buttermilk in a pinch!

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