How big a deal is it if I use whole milk instead of buttermilk in a recipe?



Trish R. November 21, 2018
So Carly, you don't have an answer either? Figures! And since when is a food that makes someone sick a health problem?

AND there is a substitute, Smaug. There are several but the easiest and quickest one is 1 3/4 tsp into 1 cup of milk, give or take, depending on what the recipe calls for.
Smaug November 21, 2018
You complained when people offered substitutes. You insisted on an answer to the original question- if you didn't see "no" as an answer, then it's a big enough deal that no one with any sense would do it. I would suggest that if you are bothered by people trying to be helpful, you're in the wrong place.
Trish R. November 21, 2018
OMG! The question was "How big a deal is it if I use whole milk instead of buttermilk in a recipe?" Not "how do you make nasty a$$ buttermilk." Why can't people just answer the question asked? I puke every time I get near buttermilk so I would like to know the answer to the original question. Thanks
Smaug November 21, 2018
If you want a simple answer, it is not an appropriate substitution.
Anitalectric January 25, 2011
Agreed. 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar per cup of milk. Stir it in and allow to curdle a little before adding to recipe. PS- this trick also works with coconut, almond or other nondairy milk.
innoabrd January 25, 2011
for any kind of baking you're using buttermilk for the acid in it. Baking soda needs an acid to work, without it you're likely to end up with a rather brick-like corn bread. Baking powder, on the other hand, comes with its own acid so it wouldn't be as big a deal.

For non-baking recipes, plain milk is more likely to be OK, though yogurt or even sour cream might give a better result. Really depends on what you're making!
Vanessa M. January 15, 2018
What if you’re making chicken tenders & you only have 1 % low-fat milk?
Nicholas P. April 4, 2019
Buttermilk is used for fried chicken because the acid will tenderize it. You'd need to add lemon juice if you want the same effect.
RobertaJ January 24, 2011
If you routinely find yourself needing buttermilk, it may be worth your while to find some instant, dried buttermilk powder. It's shelf-stable until you open it, and then can be kept in the fridge for a very long time. You just put it in with your other dry ingredients, then add water in the amount of the buttermilk the recipe needs (the ratios are printed on the can). I know King Arthur Flour sells it, and I've seen it in the grocery stores around here, the brand name is Saco.
Smaug November 21, 2018
Great stuff- once it's opened it should be in a well sealed container, like a glass jar; it can absorb moisture and turn rock hard. I haven't found refrigeration necessary.
Nicholas P. April 4, 2019
You only need refrigeration if you're in a humid climate. Up here in the northeastern US my milk powders stay dry and haven't yet turned rock hard (Been using them for months)
Allycakes January 24, 2011
I have always used regular milk with a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice in it to replace buttermilk typically gives the same effect!
Soozll January 24, 2011
You can use milk but you need to add baking powder to your mixture. If there are any acidic ingredients in the recipe, you may need to keep some of the baking soda in the recipe as well. Here's a much better explanation from King Arthur Flour, the formula for subing is at the bottom of the page.:
isabelita January 24, 2011
Thank you everyone. I knew about the milk/lemon or vinegar or creme of tarter but wondered how the recipe would be affected if I did not use buttermilk but whole milk instead. Mrslarkin the loss of acidity makes sense. I'm making the cranberry/cornmeal quick bread from Epicurious.
esgray January 24, 2011
Darn. I'm not sure my link worked, but it's the same trick both the others mentioned, with the lemon juice/vinegar and buttermilk. Good luck!!
mrslarkin January 24, 2011
If you are baking something and your recipe is using only baking soda, it will be a big deal if you don't compensate for the lost acidity from the buttermilk. Mix 1 tablespoon or so of lemon juice or white vinegar into the milk to make a buttermilk substitute. What are you making??
Lexmccall January 24, 2011
yeah, no, milk is not a good sub on its own here. But do you have a lemon lying around? Add a teaspoon of lemon juice for each cup of milk, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then you have (for baking purposes) buttermilk. Also a good sub: plain yogurt (but not fat free, and not greek yogurt)
esgray January 24, 2011
My dad's wife taught me a great trick for turning whole milk into a buttermilk substitute. Found a link to it here:
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