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Mar 4, 2005 06:40 PM

Can I substitute regular milk for buttermilk in pancake recipes?

  • w

I don't have any buttermilk just regular ones. Can I just use regular milk? I'm think it'll just be less "tangy"?

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  1. Here's something I read.

    "....If you have no buttermilk, you can make your own substitute, but go for the real thing if you can. Yogurt can be substituted for buttermilk, volume for volume, meaning 1 cup of yogurt can be substituted for 1 cup of buttermilk. In the reverse, you can usually substitute buttermilk for yogurt or sour milk on a one to one basis.

    You'll also find buttermilk powder in your grocery store. Basically dehydrated buttermilk, it has an admirable shelf life, almost indefinitely on the shelf unopened and up to a year and even longer after opening when stored in the refrigerator. Buttermilk powder is generally used for baking rather than drinking.

    Leavened buttermilk recipes usually include baking soda. Take care in substituting buttermilk for regular milk when using baking powder, as it upsets the balance of alkali to acid. Buttermilk has more acid than regular milk, which will reduce the carbon dioxide released and thwart the leavening process. To achieve the desired result when using buttermilk instead of milk, substitute baking soda for some or all for of the baking powder. For each cup of buttermilk used in place of sweet milk, reduce the amount of baking powder by two teaspoons, and replace with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. ....


    1 Reply
    1. re: jill

      I use the method of making my own(lemon juice to reg. milk-- I think tastes better than the vinegar in the final recipe) when I'm out of the powdered brand from the supermarket. Both work just fine, but I prefer the taste the powdered brand brings to my dishes. Of course you can use just plain milk, but you won't get the same taste or texture you want from buttermilk.

    2. It's not just the tanginess of flavor, but the acidity that assists in making fluffiness. Regular milk will result in a texture that is less fluffy and light.

      1. It should be fine, many pancake recipes call for regular milk in the first place. If you check some recipes on a site like SOAR ( you can see if there are any major differences that might lead you to adjust your recipe for the lack of buttermilk.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MikeG

          PS: If you're extra careful not to overbeat and let the batter rest for half an hour before you make the pancakes, you'll avoid some of the potential toughness that the buttermilk helps avoid. Mostly what the acidity does, as far as texture is concerned, is to prevent gluten from developing as much as it would in its absence. Careful mixing and the rest will help with that as well.

        2. You can 'make' buttermilk from regular milk :
          Place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup, and fill up to the 1-cup line with room-temperature* milk, let stand for 10min (this homemade version will have larger curds than commercial buttermilk).

          *room temp = 70degF; to achieve this, either take 1 cup of milk out of fridge and let it stand at room temp for a couple of hours, or bring cold milk to the correct temp over low heat, stirring occasionally.

          This is baking guru Maida Heatter's method.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ju

            This is indeed the correct answer.

            Any time buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt is in a baking recipe, the acidity is meant to act with the baking soda to provide leavening. So you need to add some acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to make up the difference if you're going to substitute milk. A pancake recipe with just plain milk will have a lot more baking *powder* in it- which leavens on it's own.

          2. w
            Wayne Keyser

            Of course you can - there are (so far) 2 good chemistry-based (and contradictory) answers posted so far.

            The bottom line is, this oughta be a "head" recipe - certainly it is in my house - that means "no looking it up, it's simple".

            1 Cup Flour
            1 Cup Milk (buttermilk if ya got it) (plus a little splash if not using oil, which I don't)
            Pinch of salt
            What looks about like a teaspoon of baking powder - be a little generous if you don't have buttermilk.

            Mix, and let rest a few minutes if possible.

            Cook the usual way - just a light coating of oil on the pan (a wipe with a brush or an oil-dabbed paper towel is enough)

            Play with the size - huge pan-filling ones are fun and save a lot of wrestling with multiple pancakes when turning, or sometimes silver-dollar-size are fun too.

            Recipe also works for waffles.

            2 Replies
              1. re: Sharuf
                Wayne Keyser


                I missed one essential - ONE LARGE EGG!