Can You Substitute Buttermilk For Heavy Cream? Read Here

Buttermilk and heavy cream are primary ingredients in so many recipes. They are also staples for baking biscuits, cakes, pancakes, and pastries. However, the question is; can you substitute buttermilk for heavy cream?

Asides from all that has been stated, you can also use them for sauces and marinades. Consequently, because of the versatility of both dairies, people think they can use both interchangeably.

Specifically, people think they can substitute buttermilk for heavy cream. This article will give a definite answer concerning this topic.

What is buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy drink. It is the liquid left behind after churning cultured cream. You can drink this dairy straight and even use it for cooking.

In the production of soda bread, the acid in this dairy product reacts with the raising agent, sodium bicarbonate, to produce carbon dioxide, which acts as a leavening agent.

Buttermilk is common in warm climates where preserved milk sours quickly. The environment’s acidity aids in the prevention of the growth of potentially hazardous microbes, extending shelf life.

Traditional buttermilk

People initially used buttermilk to describe the liquid left over after making butter from cultured or fermented cream. Before inventing homogenization, people allowed milk to sit for a set period for the milk to separate from the cream.

During this time, the milk by naturally present lactic acid-producing bacteria went through fermentation. Since fat from cream with a lower pH coalesce more readily than that from fresh cream, this makes the process of making butter easier.

Many Arabic, Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Finnish, Polish, and Dutch homes still consume traditional buttermilk, although other Western nations rarely utilize it. It is a popular beverage served with roasted maize in homes throughout India and Nepal.

Cultured buttermilk

Milk that you pasteurize, homogenize and then inoculate with a culture of Lactococcus lactis with leuconostoc citrovorum to mimic the naturally occurring bacteria in the traditional product is known as commercially available cultured buttermilk.

Lactic acid bacteria create lactic acid as they ferment lactose. The primary sugar in milk is chiefly responsible for the tartness of cultured buttermilk. The primary milk protein, casein, precipitates as the pH of the milk drops.

Simultaneously, the bacteria produce lactic acid causing the milk to curdle. Buttermilk becomes thicker through this process than regular milk. In the 1920s, cultured buttermilk was first made available in the US.

Acidic buttermilk

You can get acidic buttermilk by combining food-grade acids like vinegar or lemon juice with milk. You can make this with one tablespoon (0.5 US fluid ounces, 15ml) of acid and one cup (8 US fluid ounces, 240ml) of milk.

Mix the acid and milk, then allow the mixture to settle for ten minutes or until it begins curling. Any amount of fat content is ok for you to utilize. Acidification occurs throughout the paneer process while being heated.

SEE: Buttermilk vs Half and Half

What is heavy cream?

Heavy cream is a blend of milk and milk fat. It contains emulsified fat thoroughly mixed into the milk so it doesn’t become separated. You can also call it heavy whipping cream, and as the name suggests, it is cream that is not light and is perfect for whipping.

With no less than 36% milk fat, the dairy is accountable to the standards of the Food Drug Administration. Heavy cream is a magical dairy product. You can whip it into a semi-solid shape that will hold its shape for any recipe.

Typically, you find brands of cream with 36% milk fat in the grocery. Restaurants get the best heavy cream with 40% fat content.

SEE: What Does Heavy Cream Taste Like?

Can you substitute buttermilk for heavy cream?

Yes, you can. You can swap both in recipes because they are dairies. However, it depends on the recipe you prefer.

Some recipes can’t allow buttermilk to be used interchangeably because of specific qualities it doesn’t have.

Here are a few things to consider when switching buttermilk for heavy cream.

  • You can’t whip buttermilk.
  • Buttermilk is low fat, so you can’t substitute it for heavy cream in recipes that require high fat.
  • Buttermilk has a sour taste. This taste is one of its selling points and should be taken into consideration when choosing the recipe to substitute.
  • Both dairies have different textures. Buttermilk is soft and downy, while heavy cream is thick and nourishing. If a recipe calls for either based on these qualities, the exchange won’t work.
  • Buttermilk is acidic and reacts with baking soda. This reaction makes whatever you are cooking rice.

How do you substitute buttermilk for heavy cream?

As long as you consider their differences, substitution is not an issue. To solve the buttermilk sour taste problem, endeavor to add a splash of vinegar or lemon.

Another issue might be buttermilk’s role as a leavening agent. When substituting while baking, replace baking soda with baking powder.

Can you substitute buttermilk for heavy cream in a recipe?

Yes, you can. Buttermilk has a tangy taste and gives dishes a cheese-like flavor. It is slightly sour and goes well in recipes that require a bit of acidity. You can use it in fried chicken, soups, mashed potatoes, and even salads.

Can you substitute buttermilk for heavy cream in frosting?

No, you can’t. You cannot use buttermilk in frosting because it doesn’t whip. It has lower fat content than heavy cream, making food lighter and fluffier. It is highly impossible to make frosting from buttermilk.

Can you use buttermilk instead of heavy cream in alfredo sauce?

Yes, you can. Using buttermilk in alfredo sauce gives it an exceptional taste but less fat than the heavy cream sauce. Fortunately, the fat content is not a problem. Pour the buttermilk into a pan and whisk the flour. Ensure it’s on the lowest heat so it doesn’t burn.

Add all the spices you love, and remember, vegetables go with this sauce. Enjoy your sauce.

Can you substitute buttermilk for heavy cream in baking?

Yes, you can. Buttermilk is acidic; instead of using it with baking soda and causing a mishap, use baking powder. You can also add a splash of vinegar or lemon to affect the tangy and sour taste in your baking.

SEE: What The Active Ingredients In Baking Soda Contains

Can you substitute buttermilk for heavy cream in icing?

No, you can’t. This recipe requires an ingredient with high-fat content that can whip and hold shape. Unfortunately, buttermilk is not that ingredient. While it makes food light and fluffy, it doesn’t beat.


How long can you use buttermilk?

Buttermilk can last up to 14 days in the fridge opened and may be able to survive beyond its expiration date if unopened. However, it’s better to use it as soon as possible.

Can you freeze buttermilk?

Yes, you can. It’s incredibly straightforward. Measure out what you need, keep it in a container and preserve it in a freezer.

What are the properties of heavy cream?

Heavy cream is rich in flavor and has a thick texture. It’s not sugary as there are no added sugars.

Can you put buttermilk in soup?

Yes, you can. Adding buttermilk instead of whole milk to your tomato soup will thicken it and give it a new flavor.


Buttermilk and heavy cream are different even though they fill similar roles in recipes. For this reason, you must be very intentional when substituting one for the other.

The outcome with all ingredient switch-ups depends on how well you make the final taste and texture come out.

Thank you for reading.

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