If you have tried buttermilk pancakes or waffles, then you know how delicious they are. However, many of us rarely use buttermilk or buy it for that matter.
Instead of giving up a tasty recipe, you can find alternatives that will result in a similar flavor and texture.
What Is Buttermilk?
For now, though, the question we’ve all been wondering about, what is buttermilk?
Buttermilk is slightly sour milk. Sounds straightforward, right? The reality is that the flavor is more complex than that, as the lactic acids in the milk make the texture thicker and the flavor tart.
Commercially, buttermilk is always pasteurized and made in a safe process that ensures no contamination. By adding a lactic-acid bacteria to low-fat milk, the milk curdles and then sours.
But why is it important in cooking? In baking, buttermilk combines with baking soda to add lightness and softness to the baked good. This product is also great for other foods, such as mashed potatoes, fried chicken, or homemade bread.
What Can I Replace Buttermilk With?
These are the best buttermilk substitutes you can use for any recipe out there:
For Baking Pancakes, Waffles, Banana Bread, and Biscuits
#1. Milk + Lemon Juice
Most of us have milk at home, so using it instead of buttermilk is easy. However, for a similar texture and flavor add about one tablespoon of lemon juice for every cup of milk. Use low-fat milk or 2%, as the extra fat may change the overall texture.
The acid from the lemon juice can curdle the milk a bit to achieve a close enough product, but make sure you don’t overdo it. This quick solution works well in making pancakes, biscuits, and some baked goods, like cake.
See more: Do Lemon Juice Go Bad?
#2. Milk + Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is a common ingredient in baking, as it is a mix of baking soda and tartaric acid that works as a leavening agent and stabilizer.
You can use it with milk, preferably 2% or low-fat as well, and simply mix one and a half teaspoons per cup of milk. If you don’t have any cream of tartar, it is easy to find one in any grocery store.
This mixture works well in any cake, doughnuts, pancakes, waffles, banana bread, and biscuits. You should use the same amount that the recipe calls for, but measure the cream of tartar well before you add it.
See more: Cream of Tartar Substitutes
#3. Milk + Plain Yogurt
Use low-fat,1%, or 2% milk and mix it with plain yogurt. This blend works because yogurt is also tart and creamy, but you will need about ¾ of a cup and add the rest of the milk. Yogurt and milk work well for thick and fluffy pancakes, waffles, and biscuits.
If you have Greek plain yogurt, this works too, but you may need to add less of it, so the recipe isn’t overpowered. This is an easy option because yogurt and milk are very easy to find, and you likely already have both in your fridge.
See more: Best Whole Milk Alternatives
For Frying Recipes, Fried Chicken, and Fried Pickles
#4. Milk + Sour Cream
Another great option for cooking and baking is mixing milk with sour cream, as the sour cream is very tart and creamy, but not too high in fat.
However, make sure you keep the ratio of 3:1 for sour cream versus milk, otherwise, your product may become too soft and not set.
You can find sour cream everywhere, even convenience stores, so it shouldn’t be too hard to use it. This option is great for making fried doughnuts, fried chicken, or replacing heavy cream in making a batter.
See more: Sour Cream Substitutes
#5. Milk + Ranch Dressing
This option may sound unconventional, but you can use it in making savory dishes like fried chicken, fried pickles, or fried zucchini fries. You can use this method too if you don’t have any buttermilk, sour cream, or heavy cream, as the ranch flavors mix well with milk and fried foods.
To use this alternative, mix ¾ cup of milk with ¼ cup of ranch dressing, but make sure you like the flavor. If not, be sure to add more milk, less ranch, and a splash of lemon juice. You can buy ranch dressing everywhere these days, so it is an affordable and easy choice.
#6. Heavy Cream + Vinegar
Another great option to use in baking and frying savory dishes is heavy cream, which does contain a higher fat content, but can make for great flavor and texture.
To achieve a similar flavor to buttermilk, consider adding a tablespoon of vinegar or more to the heavy cream. For less fat, use light cream and simply add the vinegar too.
Heavy cream is a tasty addition to any batter, so if you want to make fried chicken and waffles, or any other fried good, this substitute works well.
If you don’t like the taste of vinegar, use lemon juice instead, but don’t skip the acid or your recipe will change completely.
Related: Heavy Cream Substitutes
To make homemade buttermilk at home, simply pour one cup of milk in a bowl, add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar, and stir. After the mixture is set, the milk will start curdling and become acidic like buttermilk.
Not ideally, but if you don’t have any plain yogurt, use Greek yogurt and milk with a pinch of lemon juice. For more similar results, use regular plain yogurt and milk, but make sure you add more yogurt than milk for consistency and tartness.
Yes, buttermilk is healthy and safe, but the flavor is strong and so is the aroma, so many people don’t like it. Still, it tastes similar to yogurt, though much more tart. You can drink it as a prebiotic, which helps promote healthy digestion and more bowel movements.
If you like fluffy pancakes and waffles, buttermilk is the right ingredient to use, but it may be a strong flavor for some and hard to find at times.
Don’t worry though, as there are many options to use in its place, which are very versatile for all sorts of dishes. Maybe it’s time to make chicken and waffles for brunch this weekend?
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