Buttermilk, is it butter or milk or what????


            What is buttermilk? Does buttermilk contain butter? Enquiring minds want to know. So many people labor under the misconception that buttermilk is a buttery, high-fat milk-ly drink. Nope, surprise, surprise there is no butter in buttermilk. Rather this slightly sour liquid is what’s left over after the “butter” has been churned out of it. Old fashioned buttermilk sometimes has tiny globs of sweet, creamy butter that did not quite make it to the top to be skimmed out.           Most commercial buttermilk, however, is made by adding a lactic acid cultures to pasteurized milk.

 The flavor of buttermilk is sort of like yogurt. It’s slightly thicker in texture than regular milk but not as heavy as cream.  Buttermilk is excellent in baked goods, and also as a soup and salad dressing base. It lends a rich, hearty flavor with fewer calories than milk or cream. The tangy flavor of buttermilk goes well with sweet fruits such as peaches, cherries, and pears, particularly as creme fraiche.

A lot of cooks like to dip meat, poultry and fish in buttermilk rather than milk before coating for frying and baking because of the slightly tangy flavor it imparts. If you have no buttermilk, you can make your own substitute, but go for the real thing if you can. Yogurt may be substituted for buttermilk on a 1 for 1 basis. Using buttermilk recipes usually calls for the inclusion of baking soda not baking powder. This is because the buttermilk has more acid than regular milk and using it with baking powder can upset the recipe balance of acid to alkali needed for leavening.

So, rule of thumb, when using buttermilk instead of milk, substitute baking soda for some or all for of the baking powder. For each cup of buttermilk used in place of sweet milk, reduce the amount of baking powder by 2 teaspoons, and replace with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.

The recipes below all depend on buttermilk for their distinctive taste. However, if you don’t want to buy a lot of buttermilk the following equivalents will help.

Buttermilk Substitutes, Equivalents and Measures

• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup yogurt
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk PLUS 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (let stand for 10 minutes before using in recipe)
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk PLUS 1-3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1/4 cup milk PLUS 3/4 cup yogurt


1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup dry cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat with mixer at med. speed for 2 minutes. (batter will be thin). Pour batter into a greased and floured (or sprayed) 13×9″ pan or two 9” cake pans. Bake for 35-40 min. for oblong pan or 30-35 min. for round cake pans. Cool and frost as desired.


2 cups mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives
6 medium cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 heads iceberg lettuce, cored and cut into 2-inch chunks

Whisk together mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth, then whisk in chives. Put cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce into bowls and serve with dressing.


3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper plus additional for sprinkling
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
Coarse sea salt

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine buttermilk and green onions in medium bowl. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt cornmeal, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper in large bowl to blend. Add 1/2 cup chilled butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk mixture and stir until moist clumps form. Gather dough together. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead gently just to combine, about 3 to 4 turns. Roll out to 3/4-inch thickness. Using floured 2-inch cookie or biscuit cutter cut out rounds. Re-roll scraps and cut out additional rounds. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter. Sprinkle each lightly with coarse sea salt and ground black pepper. Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 12 to 14


3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon minced dried onion
1 clove garlic — minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Mix all ingredients except buttermilk in a small bowl. While stirring, slowly blend in buttermilk. Chill at least 2 hours before using


1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

1/4 teaspoon of dry dill (or a teaspoon chopped fresh)

In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Keeps for a week, covered in the fridge.


2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoon sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup milk

3 tablespoon melted butter

1 cup blueberries

1 tablespoon of butter or vegetable oil

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Mix the eggs, milk and buttermilk in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until the batter just comes together. Add the melted butter. Mix lightly. Fold in the blueberries (or wait to add them once the batter has already been poured on the griddle – this will keep them from bleeding). Heat a flat iron surface – griddle or large pan – to medium high heat. Oil the pan with either a tablespoon of butter or vegetable oil. Ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle to the desired size, usually about 5 or 6 inches wide. When air bubbles start to bubble up to the surface at the center of the pancakes (about 2-3 minutes), use a flat spatula to flip them over. After a minute, peak under one for doneness. When golden or darker golden brown, they are done. Note that cooking the second side takes only about half as long as the first side. And the second side doesn’t brown as evenly as the first side. Serve immediately. Serves 3 to 4.


The chicken needs to marinate overnight, so start this recipe a day in advance.

2 cups buttermilk

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons hot sauce

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 skinless chicken thighs

4 skinless chicken drumsticks

1 1/4 cups corn flake crumbs

4 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl combine the buttermilk, garlic, hot sauce, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne and stir until evenly combined. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels, then transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour buttermilk mixture over chicken, cover, and refrigerate 12 hours, turning once. Heat the oven to 400. Place a metal cooling rack inside a baking sheet and set aside.

Place corn flake crumbs in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip off, and place in corn flake crumbs, turning to coat completely and pressing crumbs onto chicken. Transfer to the rack-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken. Drizzle melted butter over chicken pieces. Bake the chicken on the cooling rack on the cookie sheet for 30 to 40 minutes until golden. Serves 4


1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan. In large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest until light in color. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir this mixture into the egg mixture, in 2 or 3 additions, alternately with buttermilk. Beat only until combined – don’t over beat! – then spoon the batter into the well-greased (or paper-lined) muffin pan, filling the cups nearly to the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Makes 12 muffins.


Blueberry Muffins: Stir 1 cup fresh or frozen (don’t defrost them) blueberries into the batter before spooning it into the muffin pan.

Chocolate Chip Muffins: Stir 1 cup chocolate chips into the batter before spooning it into the muffins pan.

Poppy Seed Muffins: Mix 1/4 cup poppy seeds into the buttermilk and let soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Add to the batter and bake

Cranberry or Cherry Muffins: Stir 1 cup of chopped dried cranberries or dried cherries into the batter before baking.


2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 oil for brushing on waffle pan (spray stuff works great!)

In a bowl combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.  In another bowl mix together the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt and the egg yolks. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat it. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Beat the egg whites with the whisk or electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter.  Spread a ladleful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven. 4 to 6 servings


4 to 4 1/2 cups flour

2 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 Tablespoon butter

1 cup raisins

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 cups buttermilk

 Preheat oven to 425. Sift together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives (can also use your fingers), work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then stir in raisins. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so that it comes together. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough. Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch or so deep in an “X” shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. (If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.) Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If the top is getting too dark while baking, tent the bread with some aluminum foil.

Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.

Makes 1 loaf


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