Don't have buttermilk in your refrigerator? Use this easy buttermilk recipe with milk and vinegar to make your own DIY buttermilk at home.

It's not difficult to make homemade buttermilk. Yes, the real deal liquid, not a substitute. This recipe and method yield not only buttermilk, but butter to boot.

Keep in mind, however, that homemade buttermilk is thin and slightly sweet tasting, nothing like the thick, tangy, bottled buttermilk we buy in stores. If your baking recipe calls for buttermilk, it's wise to use store-bought because the leavening often includes baking soda (an alkaline) to balance the acidity of commercial buttermilk. Showcase your homemade buttermilk in recipes that are not leavened, such as soups, stews, potatoes, salad dressing, or smoothies. It's also delicious to drink when served ice-cold.

How to Make Your Own Homemade Buttermilk

The key is to cultured buttermilk is to use pasteurized cream, but not ultra-pasteurized. The extra heat required for ultra-pasteurization, albeit brief, kills off the good cultures required to create buttermilk and tasty butter. Most cream from large producers is ultra-pasteurized to increase its shelf-life and tolerance for shipping. Pasteurized cream tends to come from smaller, regional or local dairies.

Buttermilk Recipe Ingredients

  • 4 cups very fresh heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt with live cultures or cultured all-natural sour cream (or buttermilk from a previous batch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (optional)
  • 4 cups very fresh heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt with live cultures or cultured all-natural sour cream (or buttermilk from a previous batch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (optional)

Homemade Buttermilk and Cultured Butter Recipe Instructions

Ready to make your own buttermilk? This homemade buttermilk recipe makes 1 pint buttermilk and 8 ounces butter

  1. Heat cream in a large saucepan over low heat until it reaches 70 degrees. Pour into large bowl and stir in yogurt. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature (ideally 72 degrees) for 24 hours. The mixture will thicken slightly and resemble pancake batter. The ambient temperature of the room is critical. Too warm and the milk goes bad. Too cool and the culture won't grow.
  2. Stir gently and pour into bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Process on high speed for 5 to 8 minutes or until small bits of butter form. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Let sit 10 minutes, pressing gently on butter with a clean spoon from time to time to encourage draining.
  3. Rinse butter (still in sieve) under cold running water, pressing and squeezing with clean fingertips to help butter form a firmer lump. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add lump of butter and knead gently to remove last traces of buttermilk, which will make the water turn cloudy. Drain and repeat until water remains clear. This might take 2 to 4 changes of ice water.
  4. For unsalted butter, transfer into clean glass container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. For salted butter, press butter into a slab on a clean work surface. Sprinkle butter with salt. Fold butter over in thirds as if folding a letter to gently blend in the salt. Taste the butter and add more salt, if desired. Transfer into clean glass container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  5. Pour buttermilk into a clean glass jar, cover tightly, and store refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Buttermilk Recipes

So how can one use a fresh carton of buttermilk? Let us count at least 13 lucky ways:

  1. Biscuits
  2. Cornbread
  3. Pancakes and waffles
  4. Pound cake
  5. Marinade for fried chicken
  6. Brine for grilled skirt steak
  7. Smoothies and milkshakes
  8. Mashed potatoes or grits
  9. Instead of coconut milk or cream in curries and soups
  10. Chocolate cake
  11. Muffins
  12. Creamy salad dressing
  13. Refreshing beverage
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