Vegan Buttermilk

Make this vegan buttermilk recipe with only 2 ingredients and about 5 minutes! It’s a great buttermilk substitute you can use to make the best pancakes, vegan biscuits, and other baked goods. Buttermilk is used in baking and cooking too, so having this vegan substitute can be an important tool for your vegan kitchen.

A small mason jar holds vegan buttermilk sitting around some lemons.

My mom used to drink buttermilk in a glass. It was not my cup of tea, but interestingly enough, drinking and cooking with buttermilk are encountering a resurgence. I figured it was time to show how to make dairy-free buttermilk, too.

The good news is that most modern manufacturers make buttermilk with vinegar. That means making a vegan buttermilk substitute is relatively easy. Let’s begin with the small list of ingredients.

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Plant-based milk — I highly recommend soy milk because it acts the most like dairy milk due to its high protein content
  • Lemon juice — This is the acid we’ll use, but you can substitute apple cider vinegar

How to Make Vegan Buttermilk

  1. Combine the plant-based milk with the lemon juice and gently stir.
  2. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the milk to thicken.
  3. Store vegan buttermilk in a lidded jar (like a mason jar) and keep refrigerated. It will keep up to 5 days.

Marly’s Tips

You may be tempted to try a more flavorful vinegar, but I don’t recommend it. For example, red wine vinegar will not only change the color of the buttermilk, but it will also change the flavor profile as well.

So, if you’re convinced that having vegan buttermilk is important, let’s talk about how to make it. Thankfully, you don’t have to pretend to make butter to create vegan substitutes for buttermilk. No, in fact, the great news is, it’s really very simple to make!

Curdling Plant-Based Milk

Modern buttermilk is basically curdled milk. When you add acid to milk it causes the proteins to unravel, line up, and band together. These are the tiny clumps you see in buttermilk. And those clumps add depth of flavor when you bake with it.

It’s important to note that curdling milk requires protein. Here are some plant-based kinds of milk and how they react to acid:

  • Soy milk — it has a high protein content and therefore creates thick buttermilk with depth of flavor
  • Hemp Milk — it also has a high protein so works well as a buttermilk substitute
  • Almond Milk — you can make buttermilk with almond milk even though it has a lower protein content. That’s because it has just enough to be effective at curdling.
  • Other plant-based milks — Many of these don’t have much protein (if at all), such as rice milk and coconut milk. And guess what? They won’t curdle either. As a result, I don’t recommend them for this recipe.

Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions with photos.

Step One: Measure Milk

Measure one cup of your preferred plant-based milk, noting the recommendations above.

A measuring cup holds plant-based milk with 3 lemons around it.

Step Two: Add Lemon Juice

  1. For the purpose of this recipe, I’m using lemon juice, however, you can substitute an equal amount of apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or even coconut vinegar.
  2. For every one cup of vegan milk, you’ll add one tablespoon of lemon juice.
A hand holds a measuring spoon and is pouring lemon juice into plant-based milk in a glass measuring cup.

Step Three — Let it Sit

You can see that even after pouring in the lemon juice, the milk immediately begins to change. What you’re seeing is the proteins in the milk separating because of the lemon juice acids.

Looking down on a glass of plant-based milk that is beginning to separate because lemon juice has been added.

Stir it and let it sit for 10 minutes or even longer, and you’ve got yourself a nice glass of vegan buttermilk.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Using soy milk gives you the best chance of achieving curdled milk because of its high-protein content that interacts with the acid
  • Lemon juice is a perfect acid to create this dairy-free buttermilk because it has a mellow flavor
  • Letting the mixture sit for a few minutes allows the buttermilk to thicken.

Storage Tips

Transfer the buttermilk to a small, lidded mason jar and keep it in the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 to 5 days. It can also be frozen in freezer containers for up to 2 months.

Troubleshooting Vegan Buttermilk

If you find your dairy-free buttermilk isn’t curdling properly, it may be the temperature that’s causing the problems. If you pull the milk straight from the fridge, it might be a little too cold. Let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before adding the acid and that should do the trick.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Can you make buttermilk with almond milk?

You can make vegan buttermilk from any type of plant-based milk, but some milk will interact with the acids better than others. Soy milk makes the best buttermilk, followed by almond milk. You use almond milk buttermilk just like you would any buttermilk. It’s great for using in recipes like pancakes!

Can you drink buttermilk?

If you think of buttermilk as a type of fermented milk and realize that fermented foods are healthy, you’ll know why including more is a good idea. Buttermilk has a tangy flavor and a thicker texture, but it can be consumed like a beverage. Also, drinking buttermilk after a spicy meal may help calm your stomach.

What is buttermilk?

Traditional buttermilk was a byproduct of churning cream to create butter. It was the milk leftover from making butter, hence the name buttermilk Today, most buttermilk is made by adding culturing agents to plain milk to cause it to ferment and thicken.

Cooking with Vegan Substitutes for Buttermilk

Here are some great recipes to use vegan buttermilk in your kitchen:

A hand holds a measuring spoon and is pouring lemon juice into plant-based milk in a glass measuring cup.

Vegan Buttermilk Recipe

Make this vegan buttermilk to use in your favorite recipes such as pancakes, ranch dressing and more. Or you can even drink buttermilk straight from the glass!
5 from 2 votes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 110kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plant-based milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  • Combine the plant-based milk with the lemon juice and gently stir. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the milk to thicken.
  • Store vegan buttermilk in a lidded jar (like a mason jar) and keep refrigerated. It will keep up to 5 days.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Notes

If you prefer something besides lemon juice, you can substitute apple cider vinegar, or even white vinegar.
Calories: 110kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 118mg | Potassium: 333mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 927IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 330mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

This post was originally published in 2020 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.

4 Responses to Vegan Buttermilk

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyBarb Chaitoff Reply

    Fab – I’m trying vegan corn dogs in the U.K. this weekend and needed ‘buttermilk’ – this recipe is a game changer for me – thanks x

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyBarbara Reply

    5 stars
    This buttermilk recipe was a life saver. I needed dairy-free and this worked perfect!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlySarah Reply

    Ok I have a baking science question for you! Do you happen to know how much baking soda will react with buttermilk made this way? I’ve seen so many different variations on how to make vegan buttermilk. Some say to only use 1tsp vinegar and some say to use as much as the 1tbsp you suggest. I’ve never been clear if the vinegar amount was chosen more as the amount of acid needed to react with the baking soda in the recipe or why the variation. Do you follow the 1tsp of vinegar to 1/2 tsp of baking soda acid to bs ratio or which do you follow? I would be forever grateful if you can help sort me out on this!!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Sarah. Great question! Here’s my take on it. The more vinegar you add with your baking soda, the greater reaction you will get (as it relates to fizz). However, there is a point where the flavor of the vinegar can be too much and it can take over a recipe. Ive found some people are very sensitive to the different flavors. So, it’s possible the people who use only 1 teaspoon really don’t like the flavor of vinegar. I find 1 tablespoon is a nice balance between minimal (or no) flavor added by the vinegar, and a great reaction with the baking soda. Here’s a fun experiment showing the relationship between baking soda and vinegar quantities if you’re interested. Hope this was helpful!

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