What You Need To Know To Make Vegan Buttermilk Like A Pro

If you don't consume dairy products, finding substitutes for all your kitchen needs can be a little tricky. Non-dairy milk and butter can now commonly be found in grocery stores, but other items, like plant-based buttermilk, are a little harder to find. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can make your own at home — and you may even have the ingredients on hand already. Plus, making your own may be a little bit cheaper, and more convenient if you only need a small amount.

By learning to whip up your own vegan buttermilk, you can easily use it in a variety of recipes. Buttermilk is used in many baked goods to create light and fluffy results, thanks to its reaction with baking soda. The acidity of buttermilk can break down proteins, so it's often added to marinades meant for tenderizing meats, but you can do the same with vegan protein like seitan or oyster mushrooms. Or, with some extra herbs, you can turn that homemade buttermilk into a creamy ranch dressing — perfect for pairing with a veggie tray or drizzling on top of your salad. 

How to choose the right ingredients

All you'll need to make your own vegan buttermilk is your plant-based milk of choice and a little acidity. A 50-50 blend of almond and soy milk will yield the best results, but either will work on its own, too. Extra watery options, like rice and coconut milk, should be avoided. You'll also want to make sure that whatever milk you choose is unflavored and unsweetened. Added sugar can alter the sweetness of your food, while any flavor like vanilla can impact the flavor of your finished dish.

You'll also need an acidic element to slightly curdle the non-dairy milk. The best options for this include lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar. You'll want to avoid overly flavorful vinegar options, like wines, sherry, and balsamic. The acidity present in these is too strong and will cause your milk to curdle too much. This can make for a chunky result, rather than a smooth, thick liquid.

Combine both elements to create the buttermilk

You can swap this homemade alternative cup for cup in nearly any recipe that calls for traditional buttermilk. To make it, add a tablespoon of your chosen acidic ingredient to a cup of plant-based milk. Stir the mixture until it's evenly combined, then allow it to rest for around ten minutes to thicken.

If you want to make this ahead of time to have on hand, vegan buttermilk can be stored in an airtight container, like a mason jar, in the fridge for up to four days.  When you're ready to use the buttermilk, give it a quick stir to make sure everything is evenly combined, then add it to your recipe as normal. This may not seem like a very long time, so if you'd like to make a bigger batch to store more long-term, you can also freeze it for up to three months.