6 Easy and Healthy Buttermilk Substitutes for Fried Chicken

Buttermilk is a great way to make your chicken crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, and it’s healthier than using oil. 

You probably love buttermilk fried chicken but feel guilty about the calories. Well, don’t worry, here are some great buttermilk substitutes for frying chicken. 

The best buttermilk substitutes for fried chicken are buttermilk powder and water, milk and an acidic ingredient, milk and cream of tartar, yogurt and lemon juice, heavy cream and an acidic ingredient. Most of them work perfectly when frying chicken.

Top Buttermilk Substitutes To Use With Fried Chicken

1. Buttermilk Powder and Water

If you often make fried chicken then you may love to know the best substitute for buttermilk for your recipes. Buttermilk powder takes first place. Try buttermilk powder and water blend. It works the same way as buttermilk and is a better option when it comes to storing. 

While buttermilk won’t last long, it’s easier to store powdered buttermilk and always have it in hand. It usually lasts up to 2 years if you store it the right way. Keep the unopened package in the pantry and the opened one in the fridge. Try to keep it away from moisture.  

Check the package to know the ratio of the powder and water you need to mix to replace buttermilk in fried chicken. 

2. Milk + An Acidic Ingredient (Homemade Buttermilk)

If you don’t have buttermilk in your fringe you can make it with the help of milk and vinegar or lemon juice. This is a great alternative to buttermilk even if you don’t want to use dairy products. 

How? You can use any milk you like depending on your diet and preferences. The best choices besides whole milk for fried chicken are vegan milks including unsweetened soy milk, coconut milk and almond milk. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk. 

3. Milk and Cream of Tartar

Mix milk and cream of tartar and use it in place of buttermilk in fried chicken recipes. Cream of tartar is the powdered version of tartaric acid.

Mix 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar with 1 cup of milk and use as a marinade for fried chicken. Since cream of tartar has an acidic taste it will make the milk taste tangy just like buttermilk. 

4. Yogurt and Lemon Juice

Another good marinade to use instead of buttermilk is the mixture of yogurt and lemon juice. Yogurt comes with a thicker texture but it eventually becomes looser when you add a liquid in it. In this case we offer adding lemon juice. 

Try to use unsweetened plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, but if you have neither of them, then add some seasonings to balance the taste of the marinade as common yogurts come with a distinct flavor. 

5. Heavy Cream and An Acidic Ingredient

Just like in the case of milk and an acidic ingredient, you can use heavy cream and lemon juice or vinegar. Lemon juice and vinegar sour the milk and you get buttermilk for fried chicken. Lime juice can also work if you don’t have lemon or vinegar. 

Although heavy cream may have some sweetness, it won’t change the flavor of your dish if you balance it with appropriate seasonings. 

You  need to use 1 tablespoon of an acidic ingredient for each cup of heavy cream. 

6. Sour Cream and Water

Unlike heavy cream, sour cream has a specific flavor which will be reflected in your dish. However you can change it with the help of water and condiments. On the other hand you can thin out the thickness of sour cream this way. 

Add some water to sour cream and mix to reach a similar texture to buttermilk. You can mix  ¾ cup of sour cream and ¼ cup of water and use instead of buttermilk. 


Can you substitute heavy cream for buttermilk for fried chicken?

Many people wonder if they can substitute heavy cream for buttermilk in fried chicken recipes. While heavy cream does not have the same acidity as buttermilk, it can still be used as a tenderizer. Simply soak the chicken pieces in cream for several hours before cooking. 

In addition, the cream will help to create a crispy coating when the chicken is fried. As a result, heavy cream is an excellent substitute for buttermilk in fried chicken recipes.

What does buttermilk do to fried chicken?

Buttermilk is a key ingredient in many southern fried chicken recipes. It helps to tenderize the chicken and gives it a delicious flavor.

How long to soak chicken in buttermilk?

Most recipes recommend soaking the chicken for at least 4 hours, or overnight if possible. However, it is important not to soak the chicken for too long, as this can result in a mushy texture. 

If you are short on time, you can also marinate the chicken in buttermilk for 30 minutes before cooking. Either way, you’re sure to end up with tender and flavorful chicken.

Can you use milk instead of buttermilk for fried chicken?

Buttermilk is often used as the liquid component of the breading, as it helps to tenderize the meat and adds a touch of Tang to the finished dish. However, milk can also be used as a substitute for buttermilk in fried chicken recipes. 

While it may not add the same flavor, it will help tenderize the meat and create a crispy coating. As a result, milk is a perfectly acceptable substitute for buttermilk in fried chicken recipes.


Buttermilk fried chicken is a southern staple, however buttermilk is not the only choice you have. There are easy and healthy buttermilk substitutes for fried chicken that will give your fried chicken a delicious flavor boost. So go ahead and indulge in this tasty comfort food – just make sure to do so in a healthier way!

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