5 Simple and Surprising Ways to Use Buttermilk

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Buttermilk is that wonderful, tangy ingredient that helps us make mouthwatering biscuits, ultra-fluffy pancakes, and rich salad dressings. But there’s more magic to be had with all the other amazing (and surprising) ways it can be used.

5 Surprising Ways to Use Buttermilk

I used to approach recipes that listed buttermilk as an ingredient with serious trepidation. While I might use one cup from the quart (if I was lucky) for my recipe, it was a real struggle to find a smart and enjoyable way to take advantage of the rest of the container.

Sure you can freeze leftover buttermilk, and of course there are the standard ways to use it up that everyone usually resorts to — pancakes, biscuits, salad dressing, and the like — which are all good choices, but not anything new. With adventure in mind, each of these recipes will take you beyond your typical uses for buttermilk.

These recipes won’t only become a new go-to when you have some extra buttermilk to use up, but may also be the reason to purchase it in the first place.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

1. Buttermilk Milkshake

Serves 1

Grab a straw — it’s time to shake up the way you make your milkshakes from now on. Swap your regular milk with an equal amount of buttermilk, and you’ll be rewarded with a creamy shake, with a sweet and tangy taste.

Combine three scoops of any ice cream with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of buttermilk (depending on how thick or thin you prefer your shake) in the blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

2. Chickpea and Potato Buttermilk Curry

Serves 2

Use buttermilk just as you would a can of coconut milk, cream, or even stock to create a curry with a richer, creamier texture, plus an tangy twist. I love this curry on its own or with a side of white rice.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 chopped onion and 1 minced clove of garlic, and cook until soft and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and then cook for about a minute. Add 1 Russet potato that’s been peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Stir to coat with the spice mixture and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup diced tomatoes and 1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

3. Buttermilk Mac and Cheese

Serves 1 to 2

Homemade is always nice, but sometimes the convenience of store-bought mac and cheese wins out. Give it a super-simple upgrade with a huge flavor boost by using buttermilk instead of regular milk. And if you insist on homemade, go ahead and make the same swap. Just be sure to stick with a mild cheese, so as not to overpower the sweet tang of the buttermilk.

Prepare one box of store-bought macaroni and cheese according the instructions on the package, using an equal amount of buttermilk in place of regular milk.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

4. Buttermilk Quiche

Swap the traditional combination of milk and cream for the sweet tang and added richness you’ll get from buttermilk. It’s a nice way to up the flavor of any quiche, no matter what you decide to fill it with.

Quiche Recipes

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

5. Buttermilk Caramel Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

Add a twist to this sweet dessert topping by swapping the heavy cream for tangy buttermilk.

In a large pot, combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 2/3 cup buttermilk, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon corn syrup, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring regularly until it reaches a deep amber color.