HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Buttermilk substitute

Another thing that in Italy is not easy to find is the buttermilk. Reading the chemical composition, I noticed that is formed for 90% water.
So I can mix water with a little milk?
I am confused ..

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. To make a passable buttermilk substitute (at least the commercially available North American style buttermilk, not the true my great grandma used to drink buttermilk).

    -Use one Tablespoon of acid (lemon juice or white vinegar) for every cup of milk.
    -let stand for 5-10 minutes before using in your recipe.

    Pretty much any current (in the last 60 years) cookbook from North America that asks for buttermilk is asking for this 'cultured buttermilk product'.

    Hope that helps.


    2 Replies
    1. re: legourmettv

      But the buttermilk is the substance that remains after the centrifuged cream, it's right?
      Then you get the butter, and what remains is buttermilk that contains no fat.
      With the teaspoon of lemon I know that i possible to get sour cream.

      1. re: cosmopolita

        the flavor of buttermilk is tangy and the texture is a little thicker than regular milk. that's what Legourmerrv is going for with the quick substitution method (which is a standard one that works well). buttermilk works differently in some recipes, and is preferred in many american recipes, especially in baking and quick-breads. depending on what recipe you are using, this substitution might be your best bet. you should try it!

    2. Don't know if it's available there, but we bought a can of powdered buttermilk that works pretty well.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Eric in NJ

        Powdered buttermilk? I don't knw it. I will looking for this powder but I imagine that is not easy to find.

        1. re: cosmopolita

          We found it at a Whole Food Store. It was recommended by America's home cooking.

          1. re: Eric in NJ

            Is there a Whole Foods store in Italy?

        2. re: Eric in NJ

          I use powdered buttermilk, brand is SACO, for making biscuits and it is terrific---best biscuits I have ever made. If you are living abroad, maybe somebody in your family could send you a can. BTW some cans have the biscuit recipe and some don't but you could probably contact the manufacturer for this or look online. Or I will post it here if you can't find it.

        3. Saco brand. Available in many, but not all, supermarkets.


          1 Reply
          1. For baking purposes, you can substitute yougurt in the same amount. That will give you the same results.

              1. A pourable yogurt should work fine, or other cultured milk product.

                In baking (including pancakes) buttermilk provides two things - a sour flavor, and acid to work with baking soda. Baking powder has the acid builtin, so does not need buttermilk. So plain milk, plus baking powder, can be substituted, though it will not have flavor bit. Check the wiki article on baking powder for the normal proportions - it should have it in metric terms (in American it is about 1 tsp per cup flour).

                1. I find cider vinegar and any milk works best.

                  1. I found this Italian translation for buttermilk:
                    Latticello (sierodi latte acido)
                    I don't know Italian, but that link seems to be focusing on the natural buttermilk, the stuff left over from butter making. Most Americans use the cultured version, which is closer to yogurt in nature.

                    1 Reply
                    1. The consistency of buttermilk it similar to yogurt? More or less ?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cosmopolita

                        No, it's significantly thinner. It's roughly the consistency of pourable yogurt.

                        Lben (or leben) is essentially the same thing, and is popular in North Africa. I would imagine that shouldn't be too hard to find in an Arab grocery in Italy.

                        1. re: tmso

                          The comparison with yogurt is complicated by the fact that many commercial versions of yogurt have thickeners or stabilizers, while others have been drained.

                          Adding lemon juice to milk is the first step toward making fresh cheese, like Indian panner. That of course requires draining.

                      2. For soda-bread making, a 50/50 mix of soured cream and water works as a perfect substitute for the buttermilk in the recipe.

                        1. I tried to use the whole milk that I had at home. I added a teaspoon of lemon juice but has remained almost identical, but were formed of small things of condensed milk.
                          It depends on fat content in milk?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cosmopolita

                            The fat content should not matter.

                            Cakes and other things leavened with baking soda need an acidic liquid to rise properly. Even if the milk doesn't thicken or curdle when you add the acid, the acidic milk will still do its job of reacting with the baking soda and making your baked item rise.

                            You might also try a mix of 1/3 yogurt and 2/3 milk. This will mimic the texture of "real" buttermilk.

                            1. re: cosmopolita

                              did you use a whole cup (american measure) of milk? if so you need 1 TABLESPOON of acid(lemon juice)-- or *3 teaspoons*-- or about 2 liquid ounces. it needs to sit and sour for about 10-15 mins or so, too.

                            2. i sub plain yogurt for buttermilk almost always and have excellent results.

                              buttermilk around here is sold only in quart sizes which is always more than i need.