Is Buttermilk A Suitable Substitute For Milk?

According to their names, milk, and buttermilk both come from the milk family. But, as Shakespeare once said, ‘What’s in a name?’.

We’re here to explore whether this is just a name or whether buttermilk is a suitable substitute for milk!

Is Buttermilk A Suitable Substitute For Milk?

Many people cannot tell the difference between a glass of milk and a glass of buttermilk, implying that you can easily substitute buttermilk for milk in any recipe.

In reality, there are a few differences between the two, and while it is a suitable substitute in many different recipes, you may need to adjust the other ingredients that you are using in the recipe to make the substitute effective.

In this article, we will answer your questions about buttermilk as a substitute for milk in various recipes. Let’s dive in!

Buttermilk Vs Milk

Most of us cannot tell the difference between a glass of milk and a glass of buttermilk. They are similar both in texture and taste, and they can be used interchangeably in certain recipes.

However, the two are not entirely interchangeable and have very different origins.

What Is Milk?

You may not need an explanation of what milk is, but you’re going to get one anyway! It is very common knowledge that milk comes from animals. Typically, cow’s milk is the most common, but humans do also milk other animals.

Once the milk is taken from the animal, it will then be processed and pasteurized. This process is completed for three main reasons:

  • The milk will taste better
  • It will have a longer shelf life
  • It will have a better appearance and consistency

You will find milk in lots of different places, including every grocery store. Milk does not have a very long shelf life, so when you are purchasing the milk, you will need to check the expiration dates.

Also, check the milk as you drink it to ensure that it has not gone sour.

What Is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk was originally defined when people found that the process of creating butter resulted in some leftover milk.

This milk was labeled buttermilk, and it was used in areas with hot climates. This is because milk sours very quickly in these climates, especially when it is unrefrigerated.

Buttermilk is now very commonly made on dairy farms. It is made by taking pasteurized milk and incorporating cultures into it.

Now, you can purchase buttermilk in grocery stores. However, this buttermilk is not the same as the traditional buttermilk that was found through the creation of butter. Instead, it is much thicker and has a much stronger taste.

Properties Of Milk

Is Buttermilk A Suitable Substitute For Milk

Taste Of Milk

Milk is very creamy and the exact flavor of milk can vary depending on the amount of fat in the milk.

Milk is a very popular beverage that is consumed all over the world. It is consumed on its own, in other drinks, and it is used in lots of different recipes.

Appearance Of Milk

Milk has a smooth and thin texture. It is white in color.

Nutritional Value Of Milk

It is very nutritious, and children are encouraged to drink it. It contains many different vitamins and minerals that help our bodies grow and stay healthy. Calcium is one of the main minerals in milk.

Milk also contains 8 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat. It contains more calories in a serving than buttermilk.

Properties Of Buttermilk

While buttermilk and regular milk have many differences, there are also a lot of similarities between the two.

Taste Of Buttermilk

Buttermilk is both sweet and sour. This is because the cultures that are in buttermilk can mean that the buttermilk has a more acidic taste. For some people, this tastes like milk that is slightly off.

Appearance Of Buttermilk

Buttermilk looks very similar to regular milk. The only difference is in the coloring. While it usually has a white appearance, it sometimes has a yellow undertone to it. Buttermilk leaves a thicker residue on the glass that it is in.

Nutritional Value

If you consume milk for health reasons, then it is important to consider the nutritional value of buttermilk vs milk.

Buttermilk is quite low in fat, with one serving containing 2.2 grams. This is because most of the fat would have been used in the butter that was made before the buttermilk.

It is also high in protein with one serving containing 8 grams.

Is Buttermilk A Substitute For Regular Milk?

Is Buttermilk A Suitable Substitute For Milk

You can substitute buttermilk for regular milk in most cases, and it will often have no effect on the dish that you are preparing.

When you are substituting the two kinds of milk, you want to ensure that you consider the taste and consistency of the buttermilk.

This is because it has a sour taste in comparison to regular milk. Consider this because you don’t want your cake to end up tasting super sour!

In baking, substituting buttermilk for milk may not be the best idea. This is because the higher levels of acidity in the milk can cause problems when it comes to the cakes rising.

The acidity in the milk will cause the gluten in the cake to break down. This will impact the rising of your cakes!

Most dishes will not change if you use buttermilk instead of milk. In some cases, it will make the dishes taste even better! You will just need to consider your decision to ensure that it won’t negatively affect your recipe.

In most cases, you will need to make additional substitutes when you are substituting buttermilk for the milk. For instance, you may need to substitute baking soda for baking powder, too.

Making this substitute will ensure that the dish looks and tastes similar to if you were using regular milk.

Is Milk A Substitute For Buttermilk?

In most cases, you can use any milk product to substitute for another. In a lot of cases, one milk will suit the product better than another.

There are slight differences in taste and texture between the two kinds of milk, so in some cases, one milk will work better than another.

Just like when you make the substitution the other way around, there may be some other changes that you need to make to the recipe to ensure that the dish rises correctly and tastes as good as possible.

Is Buttermilk Bad For You?

Buttermilk can cause certain digestive issues in some people. However, this is also true of regular milk. This allergic reaction is usually a response to the lactose in dairy products. Lactose is a natural sugar that a large number of people are intolerant to.

For this reason, lots of people are sensitive to buttermilk because of the lactose it contains.

Can You Use Buttermilk In A Bread Recipe?

Buttermilk is a great substitute for milk in bread recipes. This is because it brings a delicious and rich flavor to the bread, without adding any fat.

In a bread recipe, if you use buttermilk you will also need to adjust the recipe slightly in other ways. Use 2 teaspoons less baking powder in the recipe, and ½ teaspoon more baking soda for every cup of buttermilk that is used.

Substituting Buttermilk For Water

It is a good idea to substitute buttermilk for water! This will make the texture of your products much denser and moister. It will make your cakes and baked goods taste more homemade!

Other Milk Substitutes

Is Buttermilk A Suitable Substitute For Milk

There are lots of milk substitutes out there that have their own pros and cons. These are often referred to as milk alternatives.

Almond milk, soy milk, oat milk and coconut milk are all examples of these milk alternatives. While these kinds of milk are not exact substitutes for milk, they often work as a replacement. This is especially true in drinks.

Sometimes, you may not have milk or buttermilk in the refrigerator, and you may want to improvise with what you do have! If this happens, there are lots of things you can use to replace milk in your recipe.


Yogurt is very similar to buttermilk. It has a similar acidic flavor and it is also a dairy product, giving it a large number of similar properties.

When you are using yogurt as an alternative, you will want to use the same amount of yogurt as you would of buttermilk. For instance, if you would use 1 cup of buttermilk in a recipe, replace it with 1 cup of yogurt.

Sour Cream

Sour cream also works as a substitute for buttermilk. This is another dairy product that has the same acidic, sour taste as buttermilk.

Sour cream is fermented, and during the fermentation process, a lactic acid bacteria is formed. This flavor is similar to that of buttermilk.

Sour cream is a lot thicker than buttermilk, so if you are using it as a replacement in a recipe, you will need to thin it using water. Usually, ¾ sour cream and ¼ buttermilk work well.

Final Thoughts

Buttermilk is a suitable substitute for milk in lots of recipes. This is because the two products are very similar. If you did a taste test on milk vs buttermilk, it is unlikely that you would be able to tell the difference!

However, you will need to consider the substitutions you are making, and ensure you consider how using buttermilk may affect the rest of the ingredients. You may need to make some adjustments to the other ingredients, too.

Mark Williams
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