How To Make Vegan Buttermilk

by Ali | updated November 15, 2020


Buttermilk is an essential ingredient in all sorts of baking, but vegan buttermilk isn’t something you’ll find in any store.

Luckily for both of us: making vegan buttermilk is super easy!

With two simple ingredients and just one minute of prep, you can make homemade buttermilk for fluffy pancakes, biscuits, cornbread, & more!

How to Make Vegan Buttermilk

For the longest time, I had been making extra fluffy vegan pancakes with a batter that included lemon juice and baking soda. Finally, I stumbled across a recipe that first soured the milk with lemon juice and then added that to the dry ingredients.

I first thought this was just a fun little science experiment: you can watch your plant-based milk curdle, and then it foams up when you add baking soda!

But it also made richer, more reliable pancakes than what I had before. So, now I’m a convert, and use vegan buttermilk in any recipe I can.

Anytime you need vinegar or lemon juice and baking soda, well, you can make it into buttermilk first!

It’s incredibly easy to make vegan buttermilk at home.

  • Just 2 ingredients. Vegan buttermilk, or sour milk, has just two ingredients: plant-based milk and lemon juice. It’s so easy to make, and adds a rich tanginess to biscuits and pancakes, there’s no reason to skip it!
  • Ready in 5-10 minutes. It takes a bit of time for the acid to curdle the milk. Whenever you want to use buttermilk, first add some lemon juice to some soy milk, and then prepare the rest the batter. The buttermilk should be ready by the time you need to add it in.
  • If you don’t see any clumps, try a different kind of plant-based milk. I’ve found soy milk and almond milk to work the most reliably for making vegan buttermilk.

So, if you’re ready to mix up a fresh batch, you can skip down to the recipe below to find out how to make vegan buttermilk.


When to use vegan buttermilk?

The simple answer: use buttermilk whenever a recipe calls for it!

Buttermilk is used in many recipes that use baking soda as a leavening agent. The acidity from the sour buttermilk interacts with the alkaline (basic) baking soda. Just like mixing vinegar and baking soda to make a volcano, the lemon juice and baking soda make a lot of foamy air bubbles that will make your pancakes or biscuits extra fluffy.

Why didn’t my vegan buttermilk curdle? Can I still use it?

Ideally, the proteins vegan buttermilk will curdle slightly after you add the acid. But not all plant milk end up curdling. Some have stabilizers to prevent this reaction, or they just don’t have any protein. (I’m looking at you, coconut milk!)

Hot tip: The types of milk that don’t curdle when you add lemon juice or vinegar are also the ones that won’t separate when added to (acidic) coffee.

Your recipe will turn out just fine whether or not your buttermilk curdles! Or whether or not you wait that extra ten minutes before adding it to your batter. For baking, all you really need from buttermilk is the acid (the lemon juice or vinegar) that you add.

But buttermilk that does curdle will have a richer flavor, and the proteins clump into those transformed curds.

What kind of vegan milk can I use? Can you make almond milk buttermilk?

You can use any kind of non-dairy milk to make vegan buttermilk. But if you’re looking for clumps, here’s my research:

I tested making vegan buttermilk with all the different plant-based milks I had in my fridge. Soy and almond milks work the best.

Here are my results:

  • Soy milk. Works great! Soy milk has lots of protein and clumps up nicely.
  • Almond milk. Also works great! It forms lots of clumps.
  • Oat milk. Didn’t clump with Oatly brand oat milk.
  • Coconut milk. Also didn’t form any clumps.

I haven’t tried it with hemp milk or any other kinds of plant milk, so if you do try that, please comment down below and tell me how it goes!

What’s a vegan substitute for buttermilk?

Out of milk? No problem! You can substitute vegan buttermilk with thinned out non-dairy sour cream or unsweetened yogurt.

  • Non-dairy sour cream. Mix equal parts non-dairy sour cream and water.
  • Unsweetened non-dairy yogurt. Mix 3/4 cup plain non-dairy yogurt with 1/4 cup water.
Yield: 1 cup of buttermilk

Vegan Buttermilk

Vegan Buttermilk

Rich and tangy, vegan buttermilk is an essential addition to pancakes, biscuits, salad dressings, and more. Made with two ingredients, and ready in ten minutes, it's easy to learn how to make vegan buttermilk from scratch.

Prep Time 1 minute
Additional Time 1 minute
Total Time 2 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup soy or almond milk


  1. Add lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Fill up to 1 cup with non-dairy milk.
  2. Wait 5-10 minutes for the buttermilk to curdle.


  • You'll actually use slightly less than 1 cup of soy or almond milk because you'll be adding the lemon juice first, and then filling up to the 1 cup marker.
  • You can use 1 Tbsp white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in place of the lemon juice.
  • You can use any kind of plant-based milk, but soy or almond milk works the best.
  • If you are really short on time, you can immediately add the buttermilk to your recipe. But it won't taste as good!
  • Storage and freezing. Keep vegan buttermilk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.



Ali is the former editor of Vegan HW and a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine. She is the author of two cookbooks and her favorite vegetable is, believe it or not, the mighty pea. Check out her website to learn more about Ali!

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