How to Make Buttermilk from Scratch

Chef DeWayne , On April 19, 2024


How to make Buttermilk from Scratch

How to Make Buttermilk from Scratch at Home

A wide variety of dairy products can be used to make homemade buttermilk. The buttermilk will be thicker or thinner depending upon the fat content of the liquid you choose or have available. You may also need to adjust the amount of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) that you use in the recipe depending on how thick the liquid is to start with.

Buttermilk is a versatile ingredient that can add lift to baked goods for the fluffiest pancakes, waffles, and biscuits, tenderize chicken and other proteins, give rich texture and tangy flavor to dressings, and shine in delicate desserts like buttermilk panna cotta.

How to Make Buttermilk Recipe Kitchen Tools

Cooking Tools

Tools Needed.

  • Cutting board

  • Chef’s Knife

  • Bowl

  • Spoon

Buttermilk Ingredients

Recipe Ingredients

Recipe Ingredients.

  • 1 cup milk (whole milk, 2% milk, heavy cream, half and half)

  • 1 Tbs. lemon or white wine vinegar

Step-by-Step Directions to Make Buttermilk at Home

  1. Start with the ratio of one cup of milk (or other dairy product) to one tablespoon of acid and add an additional acid by the tablespoon until you achieve the desired result. Pour one cup of milk into a measuring cup and add it to your mixing bowl.


    Ratio = 1 Cup of Milk to 1 Tbsp of Lemon Ratio.

  2. Halve your lemon or measure out your vinegar into a measuring spoon.

    Add the lemon or vinegar.

  3. Use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth squeeze the lemon into the bowl, this will prevent lemon seeds from ending up in your buttermilk.

    Use strainer to prevent seeds to be added.

  4. A good rule of thumb when using fresh lemons is that you will get one tablespoon out of each lemon, unless they are smaller in size.  If the lemon is small, go ahead and use both halves to get enough acid into the milk.

    Mix well.

  5. The acid is going to react with the dairy and cause the fats to begin to separate from the liquid or whey.

    Buttermilk begins to form.

  6. You want to make sure that the acid is distributed evenly throughout the liquid so that you buttermilk is consistent in its texture so stir to completely mix the ingredients together.

    Mix well to distribute.

  7. The acid in the lemon juice or vinegar reacts with the fat in the milk which causes it to begin to thicken. 

    Texture is somewhat clunky.

Use this buttermilk substitute in any recipe that calls for traditional store bought buttermilk.  There will be a slight flavor variation based upon which acid you use when making your buttermilk so if you have a choice you might want to keep that in mind. Sweeter items tend to work better with buttermilk made with lemons. On savory items it makes little difference in the final flavor profile.  An example might be a salad dressing where neither vinegar nor lemon juice would taste out of place.

Chef DeWayne

Chef DeWayne, a graduate of the esteemed culinary arts program at American River College in Carmichael, CA, brings a diverse range of expertise to the kitchen. With a background that spans from the pinnacle of fine dining in Michelin 3-star establishments to the fast-paced world of casual dining, Chef DeWayne blends precision with creativity in every dish he creates. Passionate about elevating ingredients and connecting with diners through his culinary craft, Chef DeWayne continues to leave an indelible mark on the culinary scene.