Homemade Buttermilk

homemade cultured buttermilk in a bottle
Uh huh, you heard that right.  Homemade buttermilk.  You can, and should, make your own homemade buttermilk.  Who knew?!

Sounds goofy and awry and weird but it's simpler than you or I could have ever imagined.  Plus, as a major bonus, it's perpetual.  Perpetual in the sense of like a sourdough starter.  Once you have it and keep it going, you'll have your own buttermilk forever.

Until you stop.  Or miss your chance at using it up before it goes bad.

Becky, seriously, come on, why the heck would I want to bother making my own flippin' buttermilk of all things when I can just pick up a jug at the store?, you might be wondering. 

Well, my friend, several reasons. 

And Becky, this is not a baking recipe either, for goodness sake.  I thought this was a baking blog, ya dork, you are most definitely thinking.

True 'dat, my friend, but buttermilk ends up in a slew of baked goods so this here recipe is a pantry staple, an ingredient basic.  And things have been a bit difficult around these parts, so please pardon the non-baking.

So wait, why the heck would I want to make my own buttermilk?  Becky.  Weirdo.

One, because it's jaw-droppingly easy.  Pour.  Wait.  Chill.

Two, because it's a time and money saver and who doesn't have time or money they would like to save? 

Considering many buttermilks you can purchase at the store do not have long shelf lives, their expiration date comes quite quick, this here recipe saves you from running to the store constantly to pick up more.  Right when you're in the middle of or about to make that tasty goodie, like Buttermilk Biscuits.

buttermilk biscuits cooling in a basket
Or Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes.

buttermilk chocolate chip crumb cupcake on a plate
And more yum.

Or Irish Soda Bread Muffins.

interior of Irish soda bread muffin on a plate
And yum yum yum.
Or many a savory recipe or marinade or or or....

Or my list is gonna get real long at some point on this blog too because I like to bake with buttermilk.  It lends a nice tang when needed and it most definitely makes baked goods moist.  Sorry if that word makes you cringey.

Oh two, sorry, back to the list....Two, this saves money because while buttermilk isn't necessarily overly expensive, it is more expensive in their smaller containers when compared to milk.  A half gallon or quart of milk is less than a pint or quart of buttermilk.

Three, like I said, this is like creating a sourdough starter of sorts.  Once you start your buttermilk, you use a portion of the old batch to start the new.  And you can keep it up therefore keeping the process going as long as you want.

finished buttermilk in a milk bottle
Four, you'll rest assured having some on hand so you can make any of these recipes at any given moment, any time day or night, without fear of being without.

But Becky, this is a commitment.  Like, I'm committed to have buttermilk all the time, like, I don't bake that much.  You're ridiculous.

Leads us to reason five, you can make any quantity you'd like.  Need only a cup or so around at a time?  Scale down the recipe.  Need more on hand for several baking projects?  Scale the recipe up.  Or stop any time and start up anew whenever, no biggie.

Ultimately, you should just bake more, IMO. 

Six, I know right, who'da thought there'd be so many reasons to make homemade buttermilk?!, you can use whatever milk fat percentage you'd like.

Most cultured buttermilks at the store, while ok aren't true buttermilk, are low fat which is fine.  What you can do is use any percentage level you prefer -- skim, one, two, or whole milk.  Me, I'm in on whole.  The additional milk fat makes richer baked goods and if you're going to bother to bake, do it up.

Use cream and you've made homemade créme fraîche.  Right?!  So fancy!  You're cool and hip!

Seven, all right I'm probably getting tedious with my list, seven, you're keeping any additional ingredients like thickeners or whatever a buttermilk manufacturer may have tossed in to their commercial product (eventually) to a minimum.

Have I convinced you yet?  I sure hope so.

It really is as simple as combining a bit of store-bought buttermilk with the milk of your choice and letting it sit on the counter overnight to become homemade.

Is that scary and bad for you?  Nope, not remotely.  It's a fermented food filled with good bacteria.

Ok, run yourself to the store and grab a small thing of buttermilk and some milk.  Go ahead and get the good stuff buttermilk, may as well, since you're buying a small amount and you won't be buying it again.

Me, like I said, I buy a half gallon of whole milk so therefore I scale up the recipe.


milk and buttermilk combined in glass bowl
Pour everyhing into a non-reactive bowl* and leave it on the counter overnight.  I don't cover it, just shove it in a safe corner.  Mine usually takes about twelve hours but it could take more or less time.

overnight changes to mixture
This brand of buttermilk made my homemade stuff a bit curdly, so just whisk it out.  Other brands, the top when initially stirred was more like a brand new container of yogurt, scoop-able.  Both are perfectly fine.
Give a stir, give a sniff test, see if it smells like buttermilk, then pour it into your storage container and refrigerate.

buttermilk in a bottle
Right?!  That's it!  I'm off to make something delicious with mine so catch you real soon!

Homemade Buttermilk

Homemade Buttermilk

4 half cup servings
Prep time
5 Min
Inactive time
12 Hour
Total time
12 H & 5 M
Save money and learn how to make your own homemade buttermilk so there's always a constant and continual stash at the ready!


  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) store-bought cultured buttermilk (see note)
  • 2 cups (473 ml) whole milk (see note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) kosher salt


  1. In a nonreactive mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, the milk, and salt.  Stir to mix.
  2. Cover lightly as desired or leave uncovered and allow to sit on the counter for 12-18 hours.
  3. After about 12 hours, lightly stir and if it has thickened and smells like buttermilk, it is ready.  If there are any curdles, use a whisk to blend them away.
  4. Pour into a storage container and refrigerate.


Buttermilk note: once the process begins, reserve the 1/2 cup (118 ml) or scaled amount of homemade buttermilk to make the next batch. Store-bought will only be needed once at the beginning.

Milk note: any milk fat content, whole, 2%, 1%, or skim, is fine and will work.

General note: scale the recipe for more or less as desired.

Adapted from several recipes including Epicurious.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)


Sat. Fat (grams)


Carbs (grams)


Fiber (grams)


Net carbs


Sugar (grams)


Protein (grams)


Sodium (milligrams)


Cholesterol (grams)


Please see the "info" section for nutrition details.

milk, buttermilk

*The non-reactive bowls are an Amazon affiliate link.  Happy baking, thanks!  Please see the "info" tab for more, well, info.

Share your thoughts :

  1. So where do I store the 1/2 cup of prepared homemade buttermilk? Won't it spoil just like store bought buttermilk?

  2. sorry...forgot to mark that I wanted follow up comments sent to my email.

    1. No worries! The half cup to reserve for the next batch? I usually wait until the current batch gets low then use that but you can also reserve it into a jar or bottle, whatever's on hand. I have yet to run into the buttermilk spoiling from batch to batch.

      Thanks for your great question!

  3. Can you use out of date, store bought buttermilk for your starter?

    1. You probably could but you might not get as much time out of your batch, unless you intend to use it quickly. I personally buy the freshest containers of each and start that way. Thanks for the great question!

  4. Thanks so much for your reply.

  5. Would this also work to make buttermilk using Califia original Almond Milk?

    1. Honestly, I'm not quite sure. If you're looking to keep the almond milk vegan, adding a dairy will negate that. You can do the vinegar or lemon juice trick (1 tablespoon in a measuring cup, fill to 1 cup with alternative milk, let sit 5-10 minutes) but as I haven't tried adding store bought to almond, I can't say for sure. If you try it, do keep me posted! Thanks for your good question!


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