What is Buttermilk and How Do You Make it?

From buttermilk cookies to buttermilk cakes and elegant buttermilk confectionery, buttermilk is one prized dairy product with a rich taste. It is different from regular dairy milk as it has fewer fats and a creamy texture that makes it an indulgent beverage. It is also rich in nutrients, and hence, is a standard ingredient in many cuisines and bakery items like biscuits and pancakes. People also use it as a creamy base in soups or dish dressings.  

Despite its popularity, there are multiple misconceptions about it. The most common one remains that buttermilk contains butter because of its name: the truth, however, is oddly different. Buttermilk has no butter and yet has a creamy and smooth texture. So what is buttermilk, then? And how can you make it? Let us have a look at everything you need to know.

Our article covers buttermilk’s description in-depth with its nutritional profile, health benefits, and drawbacks. We will walk you through its easy-to-make substitute recipes as well for factory-made varieties.

What is Buttermilk?

What is Buttermilk? Well, there are two answers to this question: a new and an old one. 

The old answer refers to the ancient buttermilk. It was a thin, non-fat, but rich tasting liquid produced after churning milk to make butter. Full of delicious and healthy cultures developing naturally to enhance buttermilk, buttermilk had a longer shelf life than regular dairy milk. It is this property, in old times before the advent of refrigeration systems, that made it a popular ingredient of dishes. 

The modern buttermilk, however, is different as it is no more a by-product. It is cultured milk, similar to kefir and natural yogurt. You pasteurize milk with cultures of harmless lactic acid bacteria, and they transform it into buttermilk. Nowadays, most buttermilk produces in an industrial environment. Pasteurized milk contains a bacteria culture. Few people add butter pieces as well. After that, the milk ferments at a low temperature for 12 to 14 hours. They may add salt and sugar according to preferences for flavoring. 

Although it tastes and has a rich and creamy texture, traditional churned buttermilk has always been fat-free because all milk fat would wound up in homemade butter. Today, cultured buttermilk differs as it can range from full-fat to skim. However, the most common one is low-fat in local stores.

About Buttermilk: Nutritional Facts 

All dairy products hold nutritional values, and buttermilk serves a heap of nutrition into a tiny low serving. Buttermilk is a healthy source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients.                                               

The following is its nutritional value per 100 grams of serving:

  • Carbohydrates: 4.8 
  • Fat: 0.9 
  • Protein: 3.3
  • Sodium:16% of the daily need
  • Calcium; 22% of the daily need
  • Energy:169 kJ (40 kcal)
  • Vitamin B12: 22% of the daily need
  • Pantothenic acid: 13% of the daily need

Some Benefits of Buttermilk

Buttermilk is rich in vitamins and minerals that assist in the preservation of healthy bones. It also has compounds that can help with oral and cardiovascular health. The following are some benefits of consuming it:

1. Improves Digestive Systems and Is Easy to Digest Itself

Natural sugar lactose is found in almost all dairy products. The lactic acid present in buttermilk makes the lactose content easier to digest. It means that people who have developed mild lactose intolerance also find it easy to digest and benefit from it. 

It also aids digestion in general as a potent source of active cultures and probiotics. Consuming buttermilk helps soothe your gut and elevates your digestive health.

2. Strengthens Bones and Teeth

Buttermilk is a rich source of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. It allows consumers to have healthy teeth and bones. It also improves oral health. However, make sure to not rely on it to treat oral conditions: it does not treat any. 

Many people do not get enough of these nutrients. They are imperative for preserving bone strength and avoiding degenerative bone diseases like osteoporosis. Therefore, buttermilk might be a good supplement for you!

3. May Reduce Cholesterol levels

Spingholipid is a compound present in fat globule membranes of milk. The absorption of cholesterol in your gut is inhibited by these compounds present in buttermilk. 

In a small study of 8-weeks, about 34 adults consumed 45 grams of buttermilk. The study revealed a 3% reduced total cholesterol and 10% reduced triglycerides compared with a placebo.

4. Linked with Low Blood Pressures

Some studies present a positive correlation between reduced blood pressure and buttermilk consumptions.

In one particular research, 34 adults consumed buttermilk to test this hypothesis. Their systolic blood pressure dropped by 2.6 mm Hg while meaning arterial blood pressure went down by 1.7 mm compared to a placebo.

How to Make Buttermilk?

While it is best to stick with store-bought buttermilk, there are many recipes through which you can prepare buttermilk. You can prepare acidified buttermilk with the following two recipes: 

Acidified Buttermilk: Recipe One


  1. 1 Cup High-Fat Content Dairy Milk
  2. Lemon Juice 1 tablespoon 


You will need fat content dairy milk and acid such as lactic acid to make an acidified buttermilk. The milk will curdle up when these two are combined.

You may use pure plain yogurt as a fermented dairy product replacing whole milk with the ratio of 1 cup (240 ml ) of yogurt to 1 tablespoon(15 ml) of acid as well.

Acidified Buttermilk: Recipe Two


  1. Cream of Tartar
  2. Whole Dairy Milk


Viticulture produces cream of tartar as a by-product. It is a leavening agent that is widely used in baking. 

Enable 1 cup (240 mL) milk to rest for a few minutes with 1 3/4 teaspoons (6 grams) cream of tartar. Mix the cream of tartar with a few teaspoons of milk before applying it to the rest of the milk to prevent the mixture from being lumpy.

Acidified Buttermilk: Recipe Three for Vegan Milk


  1. Cashew or Almond Milk
  2. Lemon Juice


You may use cashew or almond milk with acids like lemon juice and white vinegar to make acidified buttermilk with non-dairy milk alternatives.

Combine these two ingredients with a ratio of 1 cup (240 ml) to 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of acid. Set aside for 15 -10 min, or until the mixture starts up to cuddle.

Some Drawback of Buttermilk

Although it is nutritious overall, the following are some downsides of this dairy milk:

Has High Sodium Content

Buttermilk has high sodium content, which can cause heart and kidney problems to people who are sensitive to dietary salts.

Cause Allergic Reactions

People with milk or dairy allergies may not find this product suitable. It results in severe allergic reactions like an upset stomach, hives, vomiting, and even anaphylaxis in grave cases. However, it will only affect those with pre-existing allergic conditions. Therefore, do not consume it if you have dairy allergies. Immediately consult a doctor if you are unsure.

Has Lactose for Intolerant Ones

Lactic acid may not help in the digestion of lactose fully. It may cause problems to some lactose intolerants, which can show milk allergic reactions as well.

The Bottomline

Buttermilk is a vitamin and mineral-rich dairy food that can have some health benefits for your muscles, heart, and mouth. Those with lactose sensitivity or a milk allergy, however, can encounter problems. We have plant-derived dairy substitutes like almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, rice milk, and hazelnut milk. Buttermilk is a perfect and flexible supplement to a healthier diet if you tolerate dairy.