Buttermilk Powder Is a Superhero Ingredient of Summer

updated Jul 9, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

While I’ll always have a deep love for classic buttermilk (it’s a must-have in my house for weekly biscuit baking), this summer I’ve fallen hard for its powdered cousin. Buttermilk powder is exactly what it sounds like: buttermilk that has been processed to a fine powder. It’s great for occasional bakers who often can’t use up a full carton of buttermilk before it goes bad, but its superpowers go far beyond pancakes and biscuits. Here’s how to use it all summer long.

What Is Buttermilk Powder, and How Do You Use It to Make Buttermilk?

Buttermilk powder is made from low-fat buttermilk that has been concentrated with an evaporator and then spray-dried or roller-dried to create a superfine powder. The Saco Pantry powder is easy to find in most grocery stores in the baking aisle. To use it as a replacement for liquid buttermilk, you mix a few tablespoons into a cup of water (most brands call for 4 tablespoons to 1 cup, but this varies slightly). You can also add it to baking mixes like pancake mix to help with leavening — the acidity reacts with baking powder or soda to give baked goods a higher rise.

4 Ingenious Ways to Use Buttermilk Powder Beyond Baking

You can absolutely add buttermilk powder to your baked goods (a few tablespoons in chocolate chip cookies is revelatory), but the powder can do so much more — it packs a powerful punch of flavor without adding extra fat or liquid to anything you make. Here are my favorite ways to use it in the summertime.

  • Dressing up produce. A sprinkle of buttermilk powder and crunchy salt turns sliced tomatoes into a legit side dish for almost any meal. Coat thinly-sliced cucumbers in buttermilk powder and add finely minced chives for a salad that doubles as a pickle-like topping for sandwiches. Give peaches a dip in buttermilk powder and brown sugar and then toss ’em on the grill for a dessert you won’t soon forget.
  • Flavoring dips without thinning them out. Buttermilk powder can be turned into dips, spreads, and dressings to make summer produce even more delicious. Ranch is an obvious start, but even just adding a tablespoon to a cup of mayonnaise (with a generous amount of black pepper) makes a sandwich spread or dip for veggie platters and BLTs.
  • Making flavorful marinades and rubs. Buttermilk grilled chicken is one of my family’s favorite meals, and with buttermilk powder I can replicate the taste in half the time. You can also combine buttermilk powder with garlic and onion powders for a simple rub for grilled or roasted chicken, pork, or eggplant.
  • Jazzing up ice cream. Add buttermilk powder to a basic vanilla ice cream recipe for a sweet tang that pairs particularly well with fresh summer berries. I also love to add a bit to classic caramel sauce (for ice cream topping) because the acidity cuts caramel’s natural sweetness.

Buttermilk powder can also be sprinkled on popcorn or buttered Saltines, or added to basic vinaigrettes to make them taste creamy without cream. In short, there are endless uses for the shelf-stable milk powder. Grab some on your next grocery run, or order my favorite brand here: Anthony’s Premium Buttermilk Powder.