30 Recipes That Use Tangy Buttermilk in Genius Ways

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie
Anna Williams

Rich, creamy, and tangy, buttermilk is a prized ingredient in so many sweet and savory recipes. Not only do the tangy cultures in buttermilk offset super sweet flavors in dessert recipes, but they also help to create incredibly moist baked goods. You're most likely familiar with using buttermilk for fried chicken or biscuits, but those recipes often only call for one to two cups. When you're wondering what to do with the remaining buttermilk, we have 30 delicious recipes that'll help you deliciously use up what's left, and we're starting with the Brown-Sugar Buttermilk Pie that's pictured here. The filling is made with dark brown sugar, buttermilk, ground nutmeg and cinnamon, and unsalted butter. It's just the dessert to make for fall when you want a break from the usual apple, pecan, and pumpkin pies.

If you're looking for a classic way to use buttermilk, we have old-fashioned recipes for brunch-worthy buttermilk pancakes and chicken and waffles. The subtle tang of buttermilk shines in these all-star recipes. Should you be interested in preparing something a bit more unexpected, challenge yourself to making vanilla cake doughnuts, which calls for buttermilk in the batter.

Buttermilk also shines in several of our favorite recipes for dips and salad dressings. When paired with silky sour cream and mayonnaise, buttermilk helps to create an ultra-creamy recipe that you can serve alongside chips and crudités or tossed with greens and sliced raw vegetables for a seasonal salad. We even have a genius recipe for homemade ranch dressing, so you can skip the bottled stuff from here on out.

Next time you're wondering how to use up buttermilk, turn to these 30 recipes that will carry you from breakfast all the way through dessert.

01 of 29

Soft-Serve Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Soft-Serve Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Lennart Weibull

Can't decide between an ice cream cake or cupcakes for a celebratory dessert? Why not make this recipe, which is inspired by a mesmerizing chocolate-dipped ice cream cone? Three-quarters of a cup of buttermilk keeps the cake batter super moist.

02 of 29

Test Kitchen's Favorite Buttermilk Pancakes

buttermilk pancakes
Armando Rafael

Learn how to make this classic recipe and you'll never buy the boxed mix again. The use of buttermilk—rather than whole milk—and fresh lemon juice works well against a pat of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup on top.

03 of 29

Banana-Chocolate Chip Bread

banana chocolate chip bread
Marcus Nilsson

We take banana bread to the next level with this recipe that adds ground cardamom and cinnamon, plus a cup of semisweet chocolate chips, for an indulgently sweet and spiced flavor. Buttermilk keeps the batter light and moist.

04 of 29

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken Sandwich

nashville-style hot chicken topped with pickles and served with coleslaw
Chris Simpson

A mixture of hot sauce, paprika, and buttermilk brings a surprising amount of heat to this fried chicken recipe. Boneless chicken thighs are coated in the milk mixture before being dredged in flour and deep-fried until crispy.

05 of 29

Light and Fluffy Yellow Cake

light and fluffy yellow cake

What makes this classic yellow cake taste so good? The acidity of buttermilk, which keeps each slice super moist.

06 of 29

Test Kitchen's Favorite Buttermilk Biscuits

classic buttermilk biscuits with jam butter
Armando Rafael

Buttermilk is used in two ways in this recipe—first, in the buttermilk-based dough, then once the biscuits are rolled and formed, buttermilk is also brushed on top of each one, creating a shiny, golden brown top.

07 of 29

Butter-Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk and Herbs

butter-lettuce salad with buttermilk and herbs
Paola + Murray

Thinly sliced fennel and plenty of fresh herbs are combined with butter lettuce in this elegant salad. Instead of the usual oil and vinegar-based dressing, it's finished with a tangy, creamy one made with buttermilk, crème fraîche, and lemon juice.

08 of 29

Cardamom-Scented Peach-Apricot Cobblers

cardamom-scented peach-apricot cobblers
Paola + Murray

These individual fruity cobblers are totally adorable. Homemade biscuit dough—which gets its flakiness from cold butter, heavy cream, and buttermilk—tops each dessert before they bake.

09 of 29

Quick Fried Chicken and Waffles

fried chicken waffles

Originating in Harlem, New York, this is the ultimate breakfast-meets-dinner recipe. Hot, crispy chicken is a genius pairing for sweet buttermilk waffles and plenty of maple syrup to finish.

10 of 29

Citrus Mousse Cake with Buttercream Frosting

citrus mousse cake with buttercream frosting
Ngoc Minh Ngo

If you find that some layer cake and frosting recipes are too sweet, this recipe is the answer. One-and-a-half cups of buttermilk, plus lemon juice, add just the right amount of acidity to this stunning dessert.

11 of 29

Feta-and-Buttermilk Dip

Feta-and-Buttermilk Dip
Noe Dewitt

Whether you serve it with crudités, pita bread, potato chips, or all three, this speedy dip is sure to be a winner. Simply whisk together sour cream, buttermilk, crumbled feta cheese, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, dill, and lemon juice and refrigerate until it's time to serve.

12 of 29

Biscuit-Jelly Roll with Rhubarb and Raspberries

biscuit jelly roll with rhubarb and raspberries
Yuki Sugiura

Rhubarb needs something sweet, such as raspberries, to contrast its tart flavor. That's why this recipe, a rolled riff on strawberry shortcake, works so well.

13 of 29

Vanilla Cake Donuts

vanilla cake donuts with vanilla glaze on pink background
Bryan Gardner

While we're all for buying a baker's dozen from a local donut shop, it's fun to try making donuts at home. For a classic, old-fashioned-style donut, you'll need buttermilk, vanilla extract, sugar, butter, and flour.

14 of 29

Crusty Buttermilk Biscuits

crusty buttermilk biscuits served on a black and gold plate
Con Poulos

An intriguing combination of wheat flour and cake flour is used in these Southern buttermilk biscuits. Using cold butter keeps the biscuits flaky.

15 of 29

Cornbread Dressing with Sage and Pecans

cornbread stuffing sitting atop a blue towel
Con Poulos

This mighty stuffing recipe is just what you want to serve on Thanksgiving. Plus, you can make the buttermilk cornbread in advance, which saves prep time on turkey day—or any day you want to serve this.

16 of 29

Classic Ranch with Broccoli Dippers

Broccoli and Ranch Dip recipe
Yuki Sugiura

Blanched broccoli is just the thing to serve alongside our very own ranch dressing made from sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, and lots of fresh herbs.

17 of 29

Butter-Lettuce Salad with Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing

Butter-Lettuce Salad With Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing
Lauren Ross

Tired of the same old dressing? How about this rich and fragrant recipe made with ripe avocado, garlic, fresh dill, lemon juice, and buttermilk?

18 of 29

Chili-Glazed Fried-Chicken Lettuce Cups

chili-glazed fried-chicken lettuce wraps served on wooden cutting board
Chris Simpson

Mix Old Bay seasoning with buttermilk for the base of these fried chicken thighs. Then, mix part of the mixture with flour and baking soda, which will create small flour clumps for a crispy, craggy surface on the chicken once it's fried.

19 of 29

Strawberry Biscuit Sheet Cake

strawberry biscuit sheet cake
Alpha Smoot

Inspired by a classic strawberry shortcake recipe, this crowd-friendly sheet cake recipe starts with a large buttermilk biscuit, which is topped with freshly made whipped cream and macerated strawberries.

20 of 29

Martha's Buttermilk Pie


Lemon zest enhances the creamy, tangy buttermilk in this fabulous custard pie recipe.

21 of 29

Fried Catfish

Buttermilk-and-Cornmeal-Fried Catfish on serving plate
Ryan Liebe

A Southern favorite, this recipe starts by marinating catfish fillets in buttermilk, which keeps the fish flaky and tender. Then the fillets are dredged in a combination of cornmeal and flour and shallow-fried until golden brown and crispy.

22 of 29

Watercress-Buttermilk Cooler

watercress-buttermilk cooler served in a glass
Ren Fuller

A delicious twist on a classic green smoothie, this three-ingredient recipe is made with watercress, tangy buttermilk, and celery salt.

23 of 29

Gluten-Free Buttermilk Pancakes

gluten free buttermilk pancakes on white plate at breakfast
Bryan Gardner

A combination of brown-rice flour and potato starch are mixed with buttermilk and eggs for picture-perfect batter for a gluten-free version of everyone's favorite sweet breakfast.

24 of 29

Sorrel Green-Goddess Dressing

green goddess dressing
Paola + Murray

We've amplified a classic green goddess dressing with two-and-a-half cups of sorrel leaves. Sorrel has an intense lemony flavor that works so well against the creamy, savory dressing.

25 of 29

Glazed Lemon-Ginger Scones

lemon ginger scones on plate next to butter dish
Mike Krautter

The slight tanginess of buttermilk works so well in these light and bright scones made with both fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, plus chopped crystallized ginger and ground ginger.

26 of 29

Irish Soda Scones

Irish Soda Scones
Raymond Hom

Inspired by the traditional bread of the same name, these scones are made with caraway seeds, dried currants, grated orange zest, and yes, buttermilk!

27 of 29

Cardamom-Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Pomegranate

Yunhee Kim

Panna cotta is usually served in individual portions but this recipe has a crowd-friendly format. The creamy base is made with gelatin, heavy cream, and buttermilk.

28 of 29

Kentucky Bourbon-Brown Butter Cake

Stephen Kent Johnson

Buttermilk keeps this rich cake with notes of caramel super moist. A boozy glaze made from butter, Kentucky bourbon whiskey, and sugar ties it all together.

29 of 29

Buttermilk and Steamed-Potato Soup

Bryan Gardner

The combination of cold buttermilk and vegetables (sautéed fennel, shallots, and steamed potatoes) creates a delicious, refreshing soup.

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