Are you worried about sour milk ruining your favorite recipes?
You don’t have to throw out spoiled milk with these 5 best substitutes for sour milk.
Discover the best replacements for when you find yourself without the real deal.
What’s Sour Milk?
Sour milk is a product created when bacteria interacts with lactose present in cow’s milk.
Its acidic composition acts as a leavening agent, allowing baked goods to rise properly.
It gives the dough or batter an additional flavor and moist texture.
When sour milk is used in baking, its application varies depending on the recipe and can include stirring it directly into batter or mixer or brushing it onto the surface as a topping.
It should be noted that sour milk should not be used to make recipes with uncooked dough or batter such as pancakes, waffles, cookies, and muffins.
It’s important to note that sour milk can spoil quickly, so if you don’t plan on using it within a short amount of time after opening it, consider freezing it to extend its shelf life up to 3 months.
5 Best Sour Milk Substitutes to Consider
If your recipe calls for sour milk, no need to worry.
There are plenty of easy-to-find substitutes that you can use instead.
Here’s an overview of the five best options:
1 – Buttermilk
Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product, made by crumbling a small amount of cultured butter into milk and leaving it to thicken overnight.
It has a subtle tang and creamy texture, as well as almost double the amount of fat as regular milk.
It also contains beneficial probiotic bacteria, making it not only a tasty substitute for sour milk but also a healthy one.
To use buttermilk in your baking, dilute it with plain water (1 cup of buttermilk to 3/4 cup of plain water) or substitute its volume for the sour milk you need.
Buttermilk can be used in cakes, sweet breads and muffins — all of which will benefit from its delicious flavor.
Beware that using buttermilk can cause baked goods to appear darker in color than normal — this is something to keep in mind if you’re expecting light-colored goods.
2 – Make Your Own Sour Milk
Making your own sour milk at home is a great option for those times when you don’t have any sour milk on hand.
All you need is regular milk and an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar.
The acid will curdle the milk, giving it that distinctive sour flavor.
To make your own sour milk, measure out one cup of regular milk, then add 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar, depending on how sour you want the mixture to be.
Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until it thickens and curdles.
You can use this in recipes just as you would store-bought sour milk.
3 – Milk Kefir
Milk kefir is a cultured milk product made by adding kefir grains to milk.
This creates an enzyme- and microorganism-rich fermented product, with a slightly sour, tangy taste.
It also contains probiotics that help with digestion, unlike plain milk.
The fermentation process does change the flavor of the milk so if you opt for this substitute for sour milk, keep that in mind.
Milk kefir can be used in recipes or consumed on its own, though it may have an acquired taste for some.
It can usually be found at most grocery stores in the dairy aisle or organic section; if you’re having trouble finding it locally, try looking for it online as well.
Try replacing sour cream or yogurt in recipes with milk kefir as a tasty alternative and receive all of the health benefits too.
4 – Yogurt
Yogurt is another great substitute for sour milk.
It has a creamy, tangy flavor that comes from the fermentation process it undergoes, which adds a mixture of both acidity and sweetness to it.
As an added bonus, yogurt is a source of probiotics and other beneficial bacteria which can help boost your gut health.
Additionally, yogurt ‒ like all dairy products ‒ is rich in calcium and protein.
However, make sure you choose unsweetened versions since they tend to have the highest amount of acidity and can give you the best taste whenever possible.
5 – Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a soft, mild-tasting cheese made from cow’s milk that is commonly used as a spread or in cooking.
It is similar in texture to sour milk, although it does have a slightly different flavor.
Since cream cheese is typically sold in bricks, you will need to soften it before using it as a substitute for sour milk.
This can be done by placing the cream cheese into a microwave-safe dish and microwaving it until it becomes soft and spreadable.
Cream cheese can be used as a 1:1 substitute for sour milk in baking recipes, although it should not be used in savory recipes.
In conclusion, sour milk can be an invaluable ingredient in many recipes as it provides a slightly sour and tangy flavor.
However, if you don’t have any on hand or you’re simply looking for an alternative, there are several good substitutes worth considering.
You can try substituting plain yogurt or buttermilk instead of sour milk, depending on what you’re using it for.
For vegans and people with dairy allergies, soy milk can work just as well.
If all else fails, diluting vinegar in water and adding it to your recipe is also a popular solution.
Whichever substitute you choose to use, they will all help bring the same desired flavor to your dish without having to deal with the hassle of keeping sour milk around.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!