red velvet cake

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Are you looking for some buttermilk substitutes for a red velvet cake? If you are, then you will be glad to learn about these 7 easy ways to substitute for buttermilk in red velvet cake. Keep reading to find out how!

red velvet cake buttermilk substitute

Red velvet cake is a soft, moist red, red-brown, or crimson chocolate layer cake topped with cream cheese frosting or another frosting of your choice.

Red velvet cake is usually made with ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, butter, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vinegar, and red food color. But, what happens if you have all the ingredients to make a red velvet cake except buttermilk? Can you replace it and still make a great cake?

You sure can!

You don’t have to skip on your favorite red velvet cake just because you have no buttermilk, as there are several other alternatives that you can use to make a soft, moist red velvet cake that tastes just as good as any other red velvet cake!

Why is buttermilk used in red velvet?

Buttermilk is fermented milk that is thicker than regular milk. Butter milk is typically used in quick baked goods to make them more tender.

Buttermilk is also acidic and is used for these reasons in red velvet:

  • To balance out the sweet flavors in red velvet.
  • To activate baking soda which helps make baked goods like red velvet rise.
  • To break down the proteins and gluten in baked goods which in turn helps recipes like red velvet by giving them a more moist and tender crumb.

What are the best buttermilk substitutes in red velvet cake?

The best substitutes for buttermilk in a red velvet cake are milk and vinegar, milk and lemon juice or lime juice, heavy cream and vinegar, sour cream, greek yogurt, mayonnaise,  and condensed milk.

Each of these will be discussed in more detail below.

Substitutes for buttermilk in red velvet cake

Milk and vinegar

milk and vinegar

To replace buttermilk in a red velvet cake, the easiest option is to make your own homemade buttermilk. This can be made with a mixture of whole milk and apple cider vinegar 

To make a homemade buttermilk mixture, mix 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar together in a jar. Set this aside for 5 to 10 minutes until the milk starts to curdle and changes to mimic the texture and taste of buttermilk.

If you plan on using this homemade buttermilk to make your red velvet cake, substitute it on a 1:1 ratio. Meaning, you will use 1 cup of homemade buttermilk in place of 1 cup of regular store-bought buttermilk.

Related: ways to replace milk in cakes

Milk and lemon or lime juice

Milk and lemon or lime juice

This is another easy DIY buttermilk recipe that you can use in place of store-bought buttermilk. It is essentially the same as the example above except this one uses either lemon juice or lime juice in the event you have no apple cider vinegar on hand.

To make it, add 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of lime or lemon juice to a jar. Whisk together, then set aside for 5 minutes until the milk curdles slightly and gets a texture and taste similar to that of buttermilk.

Use 1 cup of this buttermilk made with lemon juice to replace 1 cup of store-bought buttermilk in any red velvet cake recipe.

Heavy cream and vinegar

Heavy cream and vinegar

Another good buttermilk substitute that can be used to make a good red velvet cake recipe without buttermilk is heavy cream. I use ½ cup of heavy cream to make an average size red velvet cake.

Heavy cream works well on its own, but, if you want to make the cake fluffier, add 1 teaspoon of vinegar along with heavy cream.

Sour cream

Sour cream

Yet another way to replace buttermilk in a red velvet cake recipe is with sour cream.

Sour cream is often used together with buttermilk in most red velvet cakes. However, there are some cases where sour cream is used without any buttermilk. In cases like these, milk is the next best ingredient. 

Sour cream is great as it adds moisture to your cake without thinning out the batter and makes for a cake with a fine crumb.

Many red velvet cake recipes that use sour cream to replace buttermilk use about 1 – 1 ½  cups of sour cream and ½ cup of whole milk.


Greek yogurt

greek yogurt for red velvet cake

Greek yogurt is another easy way to substitute for buttermilk if you’re making a red velvet cake. 

Greek yogurt is ideal if you’re looking for ways to cut corners and make your red velvet cake a little more healthy. 

Most recipes that use yogurt, use about 1 – 2 cups of yogurt to make an average size cake.




Have you ever made a mayonnaise red velvet cake? Maybe you haven’t but, mayo is another ingredient that can be used to replace buttermilk in a red velvet recipe.

Mayo is made of eggs and oil which are ingredients that are typically used in cakes anyway, and adding mayo to a cake helps to add moisture and give a nice rich flavor to your cake.

Sometimes both mayo and buttermilk are used in red velvet recipes, but many other times, mayo is used without the buttermilk.

Use about 1 cup of mayonnaise for every 2 cups of flour used to make your cake recipe.

Condensed milk

condensed milk

Lastly, condensed milk can also work as an alternative for buttermilk in red velvet baked goods like cakes, cupcakes, donuts, and more.

Though not as popular as the other substitutes above, condensed milk can be used to make a fabulous, moist red velvet cake if you have no buttermilk on hand.

Use 1 cup of condensed milk for every 1.5 cups of flour used to make the cake.

Red velvet cake recipes with buttermilk substitutes 

There you have it! 6 easy ways to replace buttermilk when making red velvet cakes. These substitutes make it so that if you’re ever out of sour cream, you can easily find one of these in your fridge or pantry and continue on with your yummy cake recipe!

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