Sour Power: How to Make Vegan Buttermilk for Baking

A spoonful of vegan buttermilk with the ingredients in the background.

Buttermilk is a common ingredient in many baking recipes, but it’s off-limits to alpha gals who avoid dairy. Fortunately, you can easily make a vegan buttermilk substitute at home with this vegan buttermilk recipe.

The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. I consistently cite and link to expert sources, but nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice.

Alpha-gal sensitivities vary by person. You should understand your dietary restrictions, making any adjustments needed, and directing any questions to your physician.

Traditionally, buttermilk was the liquid left over after churning butter from cultured cream. These days, commercial buttermilk is a cultured dairy product made by introducing lactic acid bacteria into milk. Its tangy flavor and unique texture make it a beloved ingredient in baking and cooking. But what options are there for vegan buttermilk for alpha gals who must or choose to avoid dairy? The good news is that non-dairy buttermilk can be made easily at home, providing the same delightful tang and creaminess without dairy. And I’ll show you how!


In This Article

Pouring a glass of buttermilk from a bottle.
Photo Credit: Canva

What is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a slightly sour milk product, traditionally a by-product of butter-making. In contemporary times, it is typically made by fermenting milk with lactic acid bacteria, giving it a tart, tangy taste and creamy consistency. This unique profile has made it a popular ingredient in various dishes, from baked goods to savory entrees. Buttermilk is the secret to fluffy pancakes, tender biscuits, moist cakes, and flavorful marinades.

Is Buttermilk Good for You?

Yes, buttermilk is good for you. It’s an excellent source of protein that is typically fortified with additional vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium. Buttermilk also contains probiotics, beneficial bacteria that support gut health. However, alpha gals who are sensitive to milk should avoid traditional buttermilk. Fortunately, you can easily make a vegan substitute at home with just two ingredients – both likely on hand in your alpha-gal friendly kitchen.

How to Make Buttermilk Substitute

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make a homemade substitute for buttermilk in two minutes with just two ingredients: milk and an acid, like white vinegar or lemon juice.

For each cup of homemade buttermilk needed, stir one cup of milk into one tablespoon of acid. The acid will curdle the milk, mimicking the tang and texture of real buttermilk. And if you cannot consume cow’s milk, you can make vegan buttermilk.

Wooden table with lemon juice and soy milk needed to make vegan buttermilk recipe.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott

How to Make Vegan Buttermilk

The process for making vegan buttermilk is essentially the same, but you’ll substitute dairy-free milk for cow’s milk. It’s important to note that not all non-dairy milks will curdle, so your best bet is to use soy milk. While I don’t recommend it, unsweetened almond milk will also work in a pinch. However, almond milk buttermilk produces a much thinner vegan buttermilk, and your final recipe may not be as rich or tangy. Coconut milk is not a good vegan milk for vegan buttermilk.

If you choose vinegar as your acid, white distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar work best. Do not use other kinds of vinegar like white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar.

Sage Advice: You can also use lime juice as the acid in this vegan buttermilk recipe.

Woman whisking cake batter in a glass bowl.
Photo Credit: Canva

Cooking with Buttermilk

Buttermilk adds a distinctive tangy flavor and tenderizing quality to recipes. Its acidity helps to break down gluten, leading to softer, more tender baked goods. So that’s the scientific reason why buttermilk biscuits and buttermilk pancakes are always more delicious than those made with regular milk!

I asked some of my favorite food bloggers about cooking with buttermilk, and here’s what they said:


"I like to cook with buttermilk. It just makes food a little bit more tender and pancakes light and fluffy."

"Vegan buttermilk is a delicious base for creamy dressings!  Mixed with garlic and fresh herbs it becomes a flavorful homemade buttermilk dressing or use it in your favorite ranch or green goddess style dressing to add the perfect tang!"

“I love using vegan buttermilk when making vegan waffles, pancakes, and even batter for fried foods.“

A white plate of waffles topped with blueberries , powdered sugar, and chocolate sauce.
Photo Credit: Canva

What to Cook with Buttermilk

Buttermilk can enhance a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. Use vegan buttermilk, instead of standard issue buttermilk, to make muffins, quick breads, pancakes, and biscuits including this pumpkin pound cakeYou can also substitute an equal amount of vegan buttermilk for Greek yogurt in recipes like this lemon cobbler or these raspberry muffins, strawberry muffins, or buttermilk blueberry muffins.

Once your sweet tooth has been satisfied, use dairy-free buttermilk as a marinade for fried chicken and in other savory recipes.

Related Article: Dairy Free Baking: Proven Tips for Beginners

Storing Vegan Buttermilk

You can store homemade vegan buttermilk in the fridge for up to a week. However, it’s so quick and easy to make it that it’s best to make it up as needed.

Can You Freeze Vegan Buttermilk?

Like regular buttermilk, vegan buttermilk is freezer friendly. Simply pour the leftover buttermilk into ice cube trays and allow it to freeze. Then move the frozen cubes to a zippered freezer bag or other storage container. When you’re ready to use your frozen buttermilk, transfer the necessary number of frozen buttermilk cubes to a liquid measuring cup and let them thaw in the fridge.

An ice cube is typically 2 tablespoons. Based on your recipe, you’ll need to defrost this many frozen buttermilk cubes:

  • 1 cube = 1/8 cup
  • 2 cubes = 1/4 cup
  • 4 cubes = 1/2 cup
  • 6 cubes = 3/4 cup
  • 8 cubes = 1 cup
In addition to freezing any leftover buttermilk, you can also check out one of these 100+ recipes that use buttermilk.

Vegan Buttermilk

Make your own vegan buttermilk in just a few minutes with two ingredients. This dairy-free buttermilk substitute is perfect for vegan pancakes, vegan buttermilk biscuits, vegan cakes, and other vegan baking recipes.
5 from 144 votes
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Course Ingredient
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cup
Calories 110 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or vinegar use either white distilled or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup soy milk MINUS 1 tablespoon


  • Pour lemon juice or vinegar into a liquid measuring cup.
  • Add soy milk up to the 1 cup line.
  • Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, allowing the lemon juice or vinegar to curdle the milk.
  • Stir, and your vegan buttermilk is ready to be used in your favorite recipes.



Calories: 110kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 7gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 118mgPotassium: 348mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 928IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 331mgIron: 1mg
Keyword alpha-gal friendly, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

Thank you for sharing!

6 thoughts on “Sour Power: How to Make Vegan Buttermilk for Baking”

  1. 5 stars
    I’m a big fan of sour power! I’ve been using it in my baked goods for years, and it’s so much more economical than buying buttermilk. I love that you’re making it at home now. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    It’s so hard to find vegan buttermilk, so I had to try out this recipe — it worked great in my pancakes that I made for the kids. Thanks for the tips on which milks to use — do you know if you can use homemade soy milk for this application?

    1. That’s a great questions! I would imagine it works the same way, but I haven’t tried it myself as I just buy my soy milk. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

  3. 5 stars
    I love the simplicity of this vegan buttermilk! The instructions are easy to follow and enough information is given to have such an amazing buttermilk. Such a keeper!

  4. 5 stars
    I made mine for some muffins and it worked out great. It’s just as easy as making homemade buttermilk with dairy so YAY! Easy is what I love. Thank you for this!

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