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Leftover Buttermilk Is Too Good To Waste — 11 Delicious Ways To Use It Up

It adds so much flavor to desserts, marinades, smoothies and more, you'll never go back to plain milk!

When your homemade biscuits or pancakes need a rich and tangy flavor, you know reaching for buttermilk is the way to go. This creamy ingredient works wonders for those brunch staples. Trouble is, you may not use an entire quart all at once. Rather than letting buttermilk go bad in your fridge, there are lots of ways to use it in other dishes that are sweet, savory, hot or cold. That way, you’ll get the most bang for your buck and give your favorite foods a delicious boost. Keep reading for the best tricks to use up leftover buttermilk:

How buttermilk is made

All buttermilk isn’t the same as there are two types: a sweet cream version and a cultured variety. The sweet cream kind forms during the butter-churning process, once the butterfat separates from the buttermilk. As you could imagine, this buttermilk has a sweeter flavor and thinner consistency than the cultured type.

In contrast, cultured buttermilk is made by fermenting active bacteria cultures with milk before the butterfat separation process. This results in a dairy product that’s thick with a sour yet buttery taste that’s versatile in many dishes. (Click through to learn how to make your own buttermilk using only two ingredients.)

Regardless of the type of buttermilk you gravitate toward, there are plenty of ways to ensure that it doesn’t go to waste. 

8 things to do with leftover buttermilk

Grace Vallo, founder and food blogger at Tastefully Grace, shares her eight favorite ways to use up leftover buttermilk for breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes.

  1. Coleslaw: For coleslaw, buttermilk adds a tangy creaminess to the dressing, complementing the crispness of the cabbage and other vegetables. It also provides the side with a refreshing taste. Try this Buttermilk Coleslaw recipe for your next BBQ or summer gathering.
  2. Mashed potatoes: When mashed potatoes are made with buttermilk, they become creamier and tangier. Why? The acidity helps cut through the richness of the potatoes, resulting in a well-balanced and flavorful side dish. Simply take any mashed potatoes recipe and replace half or the full amount of milk with buttermilk.
  3. Meat marinades: Buttermilk works as an excellent base for marinating meats like chicken and pork because its acidity helps tenderize the protein. It also infuses a subtle tangy flavor into the meat, enhancing its taste. Use this buttermilk marinade recipe as a guide for marinating meat in this rich ingredient.
  4. French toast: Similar to pancakes, buttermilk adds acidity to the batter, resulting in light and fluffy French toast. The tanginess pairs well with sweet toppings like syrup or fruits. Test out this clever spin using this French Toast Waffles recipe, substituting whole milk for buttermilk.
  5. Homemade cakes and muffins: Incorporating buttermilk into cake or muffin batter helps make it moist and tender while imparting a slight tang that balances the sweetness of other add-ins like fruit or chocolate chips. Try Vallo’s recipe for Olive Oil Cake, which is light and flavorful thanks to the fruity oil and buttermilk.
  6. Salad dressing: Buttermilk provides salad dressings with a velvety texture and sharpness that goes well with a variety of greens and vegetables. Whip up either of these two versions of buttermilk salad dressing to taste it for yourself!
  7. Fried onion rings: Soaking onion rings in buttermilk helps break down the fibers within the onions so they’re tender once fried. Also, it helps onion rings crisp up in the oil. These Buttermilk Onion Rings from Leite’s Culinaria are definitely worthing preparing as a crunchy snack or side dish.
  8. Fruit smoothie: Buttermilk adds a sharp and creamy element to fruit smoothies, enhancing their texture and taste. Just swap half or the full amount of dairy in your favorite smoothie recipe with buttermilk, taste and adjust other ingredients if needed.

3 recipes to use up leftover buttermilk

Along with the mouthwatering ideas above, these three recipes prove that a little buttermilk goes a long way. Whether you’re looking to make a refreshing side salad or creamy berry tart, the uses for leftover buttermilk are seemingly endless!

1. Corn and Green Bean Salad

Corn & Green Bean Salad
Line + Angles


  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. celery seeds
  • 2 cups fresh corn, from 3 to 4 ears corn
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, about 3 oz., cut into thin slivers
  • ½ red pepper, cut into thin slivers
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper
  • Celery leaves (optional)


  • Active: 20 mins
  • Total time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. In bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, buttermilk, celery seeds, salt and pepper.
  2. In separate bowl, combine corn, beans, red pepper and celery. Garnish with celery leaves.
  3. Serve with dressing.

2. Chef Curtis Stone’s Meatball Sandwiches

Chef Curtis Stone’s Meatball Sandwiches
Adobe Stock

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone says you can make the marinara, pesto and garlic butter for this signature sandwich from his restaurant called Gwen up to 2 days ahead.


Marinara sauce:

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 (26 oz.) can whole tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 Tbs. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

Meatball sandwiches:

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, blanched
  • ⅓ cup pickled peppadews + ¼ cup liquid
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 ¼ cups grated Parmesan
  • 5 Tbs. + ¼ cup olive oil
  • 8 Tbs. butter
  • 10 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • ¾ cup crumbled day-old ciabatta bread
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 lb., 6 oz. good-quality ground beef
  • 10 oz. 20% fat ground pork
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ⅔ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 ½ Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • ½ tsp. whole fennel seeds, toasted
  • 4 hoagie rolls, halved
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, torn


  • Active: 50 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr., 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. Marinara: In pot, heat oil over medium- low heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in salt, sugar and cayenne; cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook, stirring, 15 min. Add butter and balsamic. Reduce heat to low; cover.
  2. Sandwiches: In food processor, combine broccoli rabe, peppers, pickling liquid, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp. red pepper and ¾ cup Parmesan. With machine running, stream in 5 Tbs. olive oil; reserve. In bowl, combine butter, 2 Tbs. parsley and 2 cloves garlic; reserve. In bowl, mix bread and buttermilk; let sit 30 min. Squeeze out and discard excess buttermilk; mix in beef, pork, eggs, ½ cup Parmesan, Pecorino, ½ cup parsley,  2 cloves garlic, salt, oregano, fennel and ½ tsp. red pepper. Form into 12 to 16 balls. In nonstick skillet, heat ¼ cup oil over medium heat. Add meatballs; cook, turning, until browned, 12 minutes. Transfer to pot with sauce; simmer until cooked, 5 minutes.
  3. Spread garlic butter over rolls. Broil 1 to 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe mixture, meatballs, sauce and mozzarella; broil 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Buttermilk Berry Tart

Leftover buttermilk_featured image
Food and Photo

A baked custard made with buttermilk, lemon and sour cream adds tartness to balance out the sweetness of the berries in this luscious treat.


  • 1 cup, plus 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour, divided
  • ¾ cup, plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, diced and divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbs. sour cream
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries


  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 8 servings
  1. In processor, pulse 1 cup flour, 2 Tbs. sugar, almonds, salt and 1 stick butter until coarse crumbs form. Pulse in ice water (about 3 Tbs.) just until dough forms. Wrap; chill 1 hour. 
  2. Roll out dough to 10-inch round; arrange in 9-inch tart pan. Line with foil; add pie weights. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights. Bake 10 minutes. more.
  3. Melt remaining butter. Whisk next 6 ingredients and remaining flour and sugar until smooth; add butter. Pour into crust. Bake 20 minutes; let cool. Top with berries. Chill.

How to store buttermilk for future use

Any remaining buttermilk can be refrigerated in its original container for around 1 to 2 weeks. Or you can extend its storage life to 3 months by freezing the buttermilk, then thawing when you’re ready to use it. “Consider freezing the buttermilk in ice cube trays and then transferring the frozen cubes into a resealable bag,” says chef Nathaniel Lee, of “This method allows you to easily portion out the buttermilk for future use.” (Click through for tips on how to use up leftover rice by turning it into crispy rice and to learn if champagne does or doesn’t go bad.)

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