Vegan Buttermilk Substitutions


If you’re anything like me you take ordinary traditional recipes and tweak them to make them vegan and/or gluten-free. I do this a lot.

From time to time I’ll come across a recipe that asks for buttermilk – especially in baking – and depending on what kind of recipe it is, there are different types of substitutions you can make.

In Baking

If you’re baking a cake and the recipe calls for buttermilk, it’s likely for the acidic quality of buttermilk rather than for flavor. This one is easy.¬†Take the amount of requested buttermilk and substitute your favorite (unsweetened, plain) non-dairy milk and add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Let it sit a few minutes before adding it in.

In Dressings, etc.

If you’re needing buttermilk for something that isn’t going to be ‘hidden’ in baking … think of a dressing, a dip, or a sauce, then you’ll want something that not only has the tartness of buttermilk but also the thickness/creaminess of buttermilk. This one is also easy but just takes a bit more time.

Vegan Cashew Cream ‘Buttermilk’

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Soak raw cashews with first amount of water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Drain water from cashews and discard. Place the cashews into the blender.
  3. Add fresh water and lemon juice.
  4. Blend until smooth and creamy.

This is a thicker consistency than the normal cashew cream I make which is exactly perfect for buttermilk. It makes about 1 1/2 cups worth of ‘buttermilk’.

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12 Responses to “Vegan Buttermilk Substitutions”

  1. Mellissa
    January 11, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    Question: do I put the water or the nuts in the blender after draining? Thanks!

    • January 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      You put the cashews into the blender. Discard the water you soaked it in. I’ll update the post to make that a bit clearer.

  2. YaYa
    January 19, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    I’m having trouble pinning this recipe.

    • February 6, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

      Sorry YaYa, I didn’t have a picture added to allow pinning. I’ve created a simple graphic you can use to pin the recipe on Pinterest. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Kari
    April 27, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    Any suggestions for GF/vegan ranch without cashews?

    • April 27, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

      How about blanched almonds? You’ll probably need to soak them a lot longer and possibly add more liquid. A high-powered blender is likely a must for harder nuts like almonds. If you give it a try let me know how it turns out!

  4. Veronica
    March 29, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Hi. I am NOT vegan, nor vegetarian. I very rarely eat meat, but I will eat meat and I live respectfully with meat eaters. (That’s just a quick disclaimer, because I do promote the incorporation of more raw and living and plant foods in a person’s daily diet and when I share recipes, I would like to be able to include options for making them vegetarian or vegan.)

    I am looking for a vegan substitute for buttermilk for a blueberry pancake recipe. Do you think the flavor of the ACV or lemon would leach through? (I suppose the lemon flavor might not be to terrible in a pancake if fairly subtle.)

    Thank you.

    • March 30, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      To be perfectly honest, I don’t ever taste the vinegar or lemon in the end result. Your tongue feels the acidity but not really a specific flavor to it and especially once it’s cooked into something I am almost positive you won’t taste anything. Hope that helps.


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