Buttermilk Substitute For Fried Chicken

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Are you making fried chicken? Are you missing buttermilk? If you are, then you’re likely looking for a solid buttermilk substitute for fried chicken. Well, how about 10? Keep reading to see how you can easily substitute buttermilk in any fried chicken.

Buttermilk Substitute For Fried Chicken


Southern style fried chicken or buttermilk fried chicken is made using ingredients like chicken, buttermilk, all purpose flour, paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne powder, and baking powder.

In recipes like this, the buttermilk is used mainly to tenderize the meat. But, what if you’re about to marinate your chicken and you realize that there is no buttermilk in your fridge?

You might be wondering if you should just omit the buttermilk completely or if there are some easy buttermilk replacement ideas that can save the day.

The answer is yes! There are at least 10 easy buttermilk substitute ides that can be used to make fried chicken without actual buttermilk!

Why is buttermilk used in fried chicken?

Buttermilk is made from milk into which lactic bacteria has been added. This combination makes a slightly acidic product that is often used to tenderize chicken.

The chicken is tenderized through a process whereby the buttermilk and a few seasonings of your choice are mixed together to form a marinade. The raw chicken is then added to the buttermilk marinade and left to marinate for a minimum of 1 hour or as long as overnight.

This process tenderizes the chicken, adds flavor and makes for fried chicken that is tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. 

Thankfully, there are other easy ways to achieve these results or very similar results without using buttermilk. Keep reading to learn how.

Ingredient substitute printable chart


Best substitutes for buttermilk in fried chicken 

Milk and lemon juice

Milk and lemon juice


One of the most popular ways to substitute for buttermilk in fried chicken is by using milk and lemon juice. The lemon juice and milk mixture will also help to tenderize chicken meat. 

While this substitute works great to tenderize chicken before it is fried it also works for all other buttermilk needs.

For this substitute any type of milk will do. This includes almond milk, whole milk, coconut milk, soy milk etc.

To substitute use 1 cup of any milk of your choice and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, microwave for 30 seconds to warm it up. Then let sit for 10-25 minutes or until it has thickened and curdled before using. You can learn more about how to make a buttermilk recipe for fried chicken here.

This concoction can replace 1 cup of store bought buttermilk, or a 1:1 ratio.

Milk and lime juice

Milk and lime juice


Another combination that works well is milk and lime juice. So, if you happen to have limes instead of lemons, this substitute is good too.

Mix 1 cup of any milk of your choice with 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Let this sit for 10-25 minutes until it curdles, then use as you would use store-bought buttermilk in a marinade.

1 cup of this milk and lime juice mixture will easily replace 1 cup of regular buttermilk from the store.

Milk and vinegar

Milk and vinegar


You may not have lemon juice or lime juice on hand, but, if you happen to have vinegar, this ingredient will work too. Like the substitutes above, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk and stir. Set aside for 10-25 minutes then use like you would regular buttermilk.

Any type of vinegar including white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar etc will work in this case.

Milk and cream of tartar

Milk and cream of tartar


You can also use a combination of milk and cream of tartar as a replacement for buttermilk in fried chicken.

To make, use 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar. Stir this mixture well as the cream of tartar does tend to clump when added to the milk. Set aside for 10 minutes then use like you would use buttermilk.

Yogurt and lemon juice

Yogurt and lemon juice


Another suitable buttermilk substitute for fried chicken is a yogurt and lemon juice mixture. To make add ½ cup of yogurt and the juice of 1 large lemon.

Also add your favorite seasonings and use this yogurt marinade to marinate the raw chicken. A 1:1 substitute ratio is ideal here.

Heavy cream and lime juice

Heavy cream and lime juice


Besides milk and yogurt, you can also make a heavy cream and lime juice marinade to replace buttermilk in fried chicken. To make a buttermilk substitute with heavy cream, add ¾ cup of heavy cream, ¼ cup of water and 1 tablespoon of lime juice to a jar, mix well and let sit until it thickens or curdles.

Note: You can use heavy cream on its own without the extra water. It all depends on how thick you’d like your homemade buttermilk with heavy cream to be.

In case you want it thick, don’t bother thinning it out with water. Instead, just use 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of lime juice.

Heavy cream and lemon juice

Heavy cream and lemon juice


Another easy substitute is heavy cream and lemon juice. To make this, use ¾ cups of heavy cream and ¼ cup of water, as well as 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. 

If you want this concoction to be thicker, simply leave out the water and use a full cup of heavy cream instead.

One cup of this mixture is a solid substitute for 1 cup of buttermilk when you are brining chicken that you intend to fry.

Heavy cream and vinegar

heavy cream + vinegar


If you have no lime juice or lemon juice available, but you have some type of vinegar, then heavy cream and vinegar can make a good substitute too. 

For a thinner homemade buttermilk made with these ingredients, then mix ¾ cup of heavy cream, ¼ cup of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar together and set aside for 10 minutes before using.

For a thicker homemade buttermilk for fried chicken, mix 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, mix and set aside for 10 minutes before using.

Once cup of homemade buttermilk made with heavy cream is enough to replace 1 cup of store-bought buttermilk.

Sour cream and water

sour cream


Lastly, sour cream and water makes another great buttermilk substitute in fried chicken. In fact, this substitute tastes very close to buttermilk.

To make this, simply use ¾ cup of sour cream and ¼ cup of water and use like you would buttermilk.

Final thoughts

Fried chicken marinated in buttermilk makes for some really juicy and tender chicken pieces. No other fried chicken really tastes quite the same and this is what makes buttermilk a very important ingredient in many fried chicken recipes.

If you were out of buttermilk, or just looking for ways to make a buttermilk marinade without buttermilk, you may have thought that there were little to no options that actually worked.

Now, with this list of 9 buttermilk replacements for fried chicken you have so many options to make equally juicy, tender fried chicken without buttermilk. Who new there were so many alternatives for buttermilk?

More buttermilk substitute ideas for specific recipes


Don’t have buttermilk, or the popular milk and lemon juice that is used as a substitute? Here are 9 clever buttermilk substitutes for fried chicken with items in your kitchen!


Are you making fried chicken? If you are and you're out of buttermilk, you may be thinking that there is no way to make fried chicken without buttermilk. But you'd be wrong. Check out this post to see 10 buttermilk substitutes for fried chicken that make for tender, flavorful chicken! #buttermilksubstituteforfriedchicken

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