30 Uses for Buttermilk (Because That Half-Full Carton Has Been in Your Fridge for a Week)

Buttermilk is a magical ingredient: It tenderizes meats, gives pancakes maximum fluff and can lend itself to a mean batch of biscuits. So then why do we always end up with at least half a carton of the stuff lingering in the depths of our fridge until it’s three weeks expired and we guiltily throw it in the trash? Not anymore: With these 30 uses for buttermilk, we can all all rest easy knowing there will be no wasted leftovers in site.

7 Vegan Buttermilk Substitute Options That Are Plant-Based Baking Game Changers

1. Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread With Tomatoes And Scallions

Think of this as the dinner-party-ready upgrade to traditional cornbread. The buttermilk makes it tangy and tender, and the colorful toppings make it shine.

2. Cinnamon Sheet Cake With Cider Frosting

Little known fact: Along with adding tang, the acid in buttermilk reacts with baking soda to give cakes like this one their lofty rise. Now you know.

3. Nutella Pancakes

It’s the buttermilk that makes these decadent pancakes pillowy soft and fluffy (and the Nutella that makes them irresistible).

4. Pomegranate-sumac Chicken With Roasted Carrots

Jake Cohen’s secret to extra-tender roast chicken? Marinate it in buttermilk.

5. Pancake Tacos With Cheese And Bacon

Can’t choose between a sweet breakfast and a savory one? Now you don’t have to.

6. Julia Turshen’s Skillet Cornbread With Cheddar And Scallions

The trick to getting a crispy crust on this tangy cornbread is to preheat your skillet until it’s piping hot before pouring in the batter.

7. Apple-cider Doughnut Holes

There’s only a small amount of buttermilk in this recipe, but it makes all the difference for light—not heavy—doughnut bites.

8. Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini Ranch

One of our all-time favorite uses for leftover buttermilk? Homemade ranch dressing. This version has tahini for an unexpected twist.

9. Skillet Peach Cobbler

A cobbler is basically just jammy fruit topped with buttermilk biscuits, and that is a very good thing.

10. Mini Chicken And Waffles

You can’t make fried chicken without dredging it in buttermilk, right?

11. Mini Skillet Funnel Cakes

You don’t need a county fair (or a deep fryer) to make funnel cakes at home. These babies are as easy as pancakes, promise.

12. Double Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops

Top of the muffin to you!

13. Sheet Tray Pancakes With Peaches And Strawberries

For times when you don’t feel like flipping flapjacks by the stove, there’s a sheet tray waiting in the wings.

14. The Ultimate White Cake

This impossibly airy (and surprisingly easy) masterpiece really takes the cake, if you catch our drift.

15. Gingerbread Pancakes

They’re spicy, sweet and way too tasty to save for just Christmas morning.

16. Doughnut Muffins

Oh look, our two favorite morning treats got together and made something delicious.

17. Chicken And Waffle Sandwiches

A mixture of hot sauce and, yep, buttermilk make the marinade for this classic fried chicken. Even better, there’s buttermilk in the waffles too, so you can use it all up at once.

18. Johnnycakes With Rhubarb And Sour Cherries

What are johnnycakes, you ask? They’re Southern-style cornmeal pancakes…also known as genius.

19. Green Goddess Wraps

This homemade green goddess dressing is almost too easy to make, thanks to your handy food processor.

20. Cinnamon-roll Pancakes

Are you sick of pancakes yet? No, because that’s just impossible.

21. Spicy Glazed Popcorn Chicken

OK, we admit that they’re basically adult chicken nuggets. But we bet you can’t eat just one.

22. Savory Cheese Waffles

Waffle batters don’t always call for buttermilk, but here it plays up the savory quality quite nicely.

23. Apple Pie Biscuits

So apple pie and buttermilk biscuits walked into a bar…

24. Baby Blooming Onions

We love bloomin’ onions and we don’t care who knows it, so we’re making them at home.

25. Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Every time we ask ourselves, “Is it a pie, a cookie or a cake?” (And then we eat one before we can figure out the answer.)

26. Snickerdoodle Chocolate-chunk Bundt Cake

A cinnamon-spiced Bundt cake is hard to improve, until you add chocolate chunks and a chocolate glaze and realize what you had been missing out on.

27. Apple-cider Pear Spelt Cake

This pretty loaf cake leans on the healthy-ish, not-too-sweet side of the spectrum, which is great because we’re helping ourselves to two slices.

28. Slow-cooker Cherry Cobbler

You barely have to lift a finger to make this classic dessert. The added buttermilk ensures that the biscuits will be delicate and light—not overcooked hockey pucks.

29. Cheddar Biscuits With Caramelized Onion Gravy

This white gravy is made with half-and-half, but you could swap in buttermilk for extra tang if you wanted.

30. Mini Chocolate Snowball Cakes

When all else fails, cover everything in sweetened coconut flakes and call it a day.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...