How to Make Your Own Buttermilk

Miss Thrifty20 March 15, 2013

make buttermilk

Okay, this is just a quickie. When I cook for Thrifty Baby, I sometimes make him chicken marinated in buttermilk, a little honey and a dash of soy sauce. It’s a Nigella recipe from How To Eat – only the best for Thrifty Baby, darling! But it’s a lovely, simple recipe: you cut up the chicken, leave it to soften in the marinade for a couple of hours, then fry it with a little olive oil. He can’t get it down him fast enough.

The only sticking point is the buttermilk. I don’t buy buttermilk from the supermarket: in the UK, it’s 50 pence per pot, which seems like a lot for what it is (buttermilk is the liquid left over from the butter-making process). And I don’t use it in any recipes other than this one, so much of it would go to waste anyway. We don’t use it that much over here, do we? The odd cake or scone recipe, but that’s about it.

So I’ve picked up a trick from cooks on the other side of the pond, where lashings of buttermilk go into cakes, pancakes and waffles. It’s so easy to make your own buttermilk – and so quick!

All you need is full-fat milk, plus a lemon. If you don’t have a fresh lemon, lemon juice or vinegar are fine.

There is only one instruction:


1. Squeeze a tablespoon of lemon juice into a cup of milk.

Seriously, that’s all there is to it. After you add the lemon juice, stir the milk and leave to one side. It doesn’t curdle. Instead, after a few minutes, the mixture will have thickened and will be ready to use.

This tip has already saved me pounds. Why buy buttermilk, when you can make a homemade version for pennies?


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20 Responses to “How to Make Your Own Buttermilk

Money Beagle says:

Just in the past few weeks my wife stumbled across a pancake recipe that calls for using vinegar, and it works great, and they’re better than pancakes that you can get at a restaurant. You’re right, making buttermilk is quite simple!

March 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Harper says:

Amazing! A lot of the Hummingbird Bakery recipes call for buttermilk and it isn’t an easy find. I will definitely try this next time I bake!

March 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Fi says:

This is so helpful! I love buttermilk chicken coated in breadcrumbs but for some reason I can never find it in the shops when I need it most. Now though I’ll be able to make my own – thanks for sharing! xx

March 17, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Shilpa says:

This is based on a recipe from India Knight book. To get buttermilk along with butter just whisk double cream in the food processor and wait till the cream form tiny granules. Whisk a little more carefully and you have a lump of home made butter(additive free) and buttermilk. Drain the buttermilk and use in your recipe whilst wash the butter in cold water couple of times and store in a bowl of cold water in the fridge and use as soon as possible before it gets spoilt. I use the above made butter to make home made ghee which is used extensively in Indian cooking

March 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm

MARY says:

This probably seems silly, but if you are using say 3 cups of milk, is it a tablespoon of lemon juice per cup? or less than that?

May 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Miss Thrifty says:

Hi Mary – yep, that’s right, 1 tbsp per cup.

May 14, 2013 at 9:18 am

emma says:

can i use semi-skimmed milk?

July 1, 2013 at 11:23 am

Miss Thrifty says:

@emma – no idea! Sorry, I know that isn’t helpful, but I have never tried it. If you give it a go, please report back! 😉

July 2, 2013 at 1:00 am

Valerie McManus says:

I have used semi-skimmed to make this and it was fine.

January 8, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Marijn says:

Actually, ‘real’ buttermilk is cultured and not milk curdled with an acid or whey as a by-product of making butter. It’s really simple to culture, and once you have paid for the initial lay-out of £0.50p for shop-bought buttermilk, you can keep it going for quite a long time by just using half and topping up with skimmed milk. Leave it out on the worktop for 12-24 hours et voilà, lovely fresh buttermilk!

June 12, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Pete says:

Sorry…but your wrong there! Real Buttermilk is a by product of making butter from cream. After a lot of mixing, the butter fats in the cream clump together forming butter and the buttermilk liquid separates from them. The ”cultured” stuff sold in pots in supermarkets is just a poor substitute for it.

March 10, 2016 at 3:41 am

E J Donoher says:

Brilliant will try it for my soda bread (will it be as good as my mom’s?)
Thanks ?

June 25, 2016 at 10:21 am

Louise says:

Hi does anyone know how much milk to use in grams? A US cup is 240ml but a UK one is 250ml, though I’ve found that most cup measures aren’t ‘true to size’ and actually measure less than what they should.. also how much buttermilk would this recipe make in fl oz? Got a recipe that needs 10fl oz..

August 6, 2016 at 2:40 am

Louise says:

Sorry I meant how much milk do I use in ml?

August 8, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Elyss says:

Sorry, Pete, but you’re wrong too! Yes, buttermilk is the liquid left over from butter-churning BUT it is always left at least overnight to ferment before use. It’s the fermenting that turns the milk sugars to lactic acid which gives buttermilk its tang and which makes it so good for baking. Hence buttermilk as used is always ‘that cultured stuff’.

August 27, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Alan Kemp says:

About making your own cultured buttermilk by adding shop-made buttermilk to your milk…. You MUST sterilise the milk you add to the culture by boiling it (and letting it cool) first.

I had a friend that made homemade yogurt, got bored with the boiling stage, and went straight the adding-the-culture-to-milk stage.

The culture grew alright, but so did other bacteria that was in the unsterilised milk, and she got horribly ill. Don’t let this put you off. Homemade yogurt (and cultured buttermilk) are great, economical, and perfectly safe, as long as you sterilise.

February 26, 2017 at 10:06 pm

Alan Kemp says:

I just looked at the price on my 1 litre bottle of ‘Milko’ Natural Kefir cultured buttermilk, and it was 79 pence, which I think is less than I pay for a litre of organic milk. This is from a Polish supermarket (with a big strawberry logo) in London.

So no need for economy versions at all!

March 1, 2017 at 2:50 am

steph says:

Probably a silly question, but does this work with goat’s milk? I would imagine it does, will give it a go anyway!

October 31, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Miss Thrifty says:

Steph I have no idea! I really hope you try… and let me know what the results are. 😉

November 3, 2017 at 1:19 am

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