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. 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.
Use these simple tips to make your buttermilk substitute vegan.

My mom used to drink buttermilk in a glass…while I stood behind her gagging.

I was not a fan of anything that tasted so overtly sour. I don’t know why my mom drank it like that. I guess she liked it? But drinking and cooking with buttermilk are encountering a resurgence so I figured it was a chance to talk about it and to show how to make dairy-free buttermilk too.

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.

This means making a vegan buttermilk substitute is relatively easy. So, let’s talk about how to make it.

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

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!

  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.

Curdling Plant-Based Milk

Modern buttermilk is basically curdled milk. When you add acid to milk the proteins unravel. This causes the protein strands to 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.

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

  • Soy milk — creates thick buttermilk with depth of flavor
  • Hemp Milk — due to its high protein content it works, too
  • Almond Milk — it was effective at curdling.

Some plant-based milks don’t have much protein (if at all), such as rice milk and coconut milk. And guess what? They won’t curdle at all.

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

For the purpose of this recipe, I’m using lemon juice, however, you can substitute an equal amount of something like apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or even coconut vinegar.

Marly’s Tips

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

For every one cup of 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.

You can see that even after pouring the lemon juice, it immediately begins to have an impact. 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. I like to transfer it 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.

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 from 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.

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

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 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 110kcal
Author: Marly

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.
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Buttermilk
Amount Per Serving
Calories 110 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 118mg5%
Potassium 333mg10%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 927IU19%
Vitamin C 23mg28%
Calcium 330mg33%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

4 Responses to Vegan Buttermilk

  1. 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!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyBarbara Reply

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

  3. 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

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