How To Substitute Buttermilk For Heavy Cream?

Heavy cream and buttermilk are staple baking ingredients. However, sometimes we forget one of them and wonder if we could substitute one for the other. Is it possible to interchange these two ingredients? How to substitute buttermilk for heavy cream? We researched, and here's what we found:

It is possible to substitute buttermilk for heavy cream in some recipes, but not all. Considering their different tastes and textures, you can interchange these two primary ingredients. The ratio may vary depending on the recipe and intended outcome. 

Here are the things to remember before substituting buttermilk and heavy cream:

  • Texture: buttermilk is lighter or thinner, so not a good thickening agent 
  • Taste: using buttermilk could add a "tangy" or sour flavor to the recipe
  • Calorie content: buttermilk is lower-fat therefore leaves a "less full" feeling after the meal
  • Chemical composition: buttermilk reacts with baking soda but not baking powder

To learn more about the differences between buttermilk and heavy cream and how to interchange them, continue reading as we delve more into the topic.

Mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese, ricotta) in white ceramic bowl top view. Ingredient for cooking italian dessert tiramisu, lady fingers and coffee. Creamy texture. Copy space. Concrete background., How To Substitute Buttermilk For Heavy Cream?

How Can You Substitute Buttermilk For Heavy Cream

buttermilk or yogurt with probiotics

Heavy cream and buttermilk are the main ingredients in baking waffles, cakes, scones, biscuits, soups, stews, and more. However, you can't switch the buttermilk and heavy cream in all recipes, and you need to adjust the ingredients if substitution is possible.

When Can You Not Replace Buttermilk With Heavy Cream?

These are some factors you need to remember:

  • If you plan to make whipped cream, buttermilk is not the proper ingredient to replace heavy cream.
  • You can't use heavy cream in ingredients with baking soda. Buttermilk's acid reacts with baking soda, while heavy cream reacts with baking powder.

How Buttermilk Differs From Heavy Cream

Before replacing heavy cream with buttermilk, there are elements that you should consider before switching these two ingredients. Knowing the basics below will help you realize when and where you can replace buttermilk with heavy cream:


Pouring homemade kefir, buttermilk or yogurt with probiotics.

  • It is low in fat.
  • The texture is lighter and fluffier. If the recipe needs thicker cream or sauce, buttermilk is not a good replacement.
  • Acidic and tastes sour.
  • Made from milk through fermentation.
  • Buttermilk is not for whipping because it gets frothy and will never become whipped cream or butter.
  • Buttermilk curdles when boiled.

Heavy Cream

a cup of whipped cream on wooden table

  • High fat and calories.
  • Thick texture.
  • It becomes butter when whipped.
  • Made from skimmed fats from unhomogenized milk.
  • Heavy milk gets reduced once boiled.
  • Commonly used in savory recipes.
  • Ideal ingredient for dips, sauces, soups, stews, and gravies for a thicker outcome.

Should You Use Whole Milk, Buttermilk, Or Heavy Cream In Mac & Cheese?

Buttermilk has the consistency of low-fat or skimmed milk. Buttermilk is like yogurt, and someone with lactose intolerance can digest it better than regular cow's milk.

If you wish to make buttermilk thicker as the base of mac and cheese, you can add a little more cheese to make it creamy. However, buttermilk has tang or tartness, so some people might not like the tangy taste.

Heavy cream is creamier and thicker than buttermilk. Heavy cream will make you feel full if used as a base for a full-meal serving.

Whole milk has a nice, creamy consistency like heavy cream but doesn't have a tangy taste like buttermilk. Using skimmed milk or low-fat milk as a sauce base for mac and cheese is not recommended because it needs a creamy base which lighter milk can not achieve.

Watch the video with Sarita Ekya from Cookingguide to learn about buttermilk, whole milk, and heavy cream.

Can You Replace Buttermilk For Heavy Cream In Salad Dressing?

You can replace heavy cream with buttermilk. However, the flavor will be different because buttermilk tastes tangy and lighter than heavy cream.

Can You Use Buttermilk In Creamy Soup Instead of Heavy Cream?

You can use buttermilk in replacement of heavy cream in a creamy soup. The soup will have a sour flavor and be lighter than a creamy soup with heavy cream.

Adjust the ingredients to get the best results. Mix one cup of buttermilk with two cups of water if the recipe states you need three cups of heavy cream.

Can You Use Buttermilk Instead Of Heavy Cream In Pasta Sauce?

Spaghetti Carbonara with bacon and cheese

You can use buttermilk as a substitute for heavy cream as a pasta sauce if heavy cream is not available in your kitchen. Buttermilk will be a better replacement because of its tangy and rich flavor with lower fat content.

How To Substitute Buttermilk

To substitute buttermilk, you can make your buttermilk using thinned yogurt, soured regular milk, or sour cream. To make your buttermilk, mix sour milk with any acid, such as lemon juice or apple cider. For flavored or plain yogurt or sour cream, mix well with water.

With Sour Cream

You can substitute sour cream with buttermilk in the baking recipe. Since buttermilk is more liquid than sour cream, mix it in butter to get the same texture.

Mix 177.44 milliliters (3/4 cup) of buttermilk and 59.15 milliliters (1/4 cup) of butter to substitute one cup of sour cream, and beat the mixture well until you get the desired texture of sour cream.

With Lemon Or Vinegar

Pour three teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar into a measuring cup, then fill it with water. Stir and leave it for 5-10 minutes.

The milk will curdle while the mixture rests. The outcome is not like a thick buttermilk from the store, but the mixture will be acidic enough to work like a buttermilk.

With Cream Of Tartar

Mix 5 grams of cream of tartar with other ingredients first to prevent it from clumping while mixing with milk. After mixing all dry ingredients with cream of tartar, add 240 milliliters of milk to create a buttermilk substitute.

Another alternative is to whisk 30 milliliters of milk with cream of tartar, then add it to the remaining milk to prevent clumping.


Mix 177.44 milliliters (3/4 cup) of yogurt (plain or flavored) with 59.15 milliliters (1/4 cup) of milk or water. This is the substitute for every cup of buttermilk.

What Are The Best Buttermilk Powders?

Listed below are some of the buttermilk recommendations for your recipes:

Hoosier Hill Farm Buttermilk Powder

Buttermilk Powder is sweet and creamy, which works best for biscuits, pancakes, bread, and other recipes with buttermilk staples. It has a 100% rich, real dairy flavor.

Click here to check buttermilk powder on Amazon.

SACO Cultured Buttermilk Blend

Cultured buttermilk blend is ideal for cooking and baking. It has low cholesterol and low fat. Add the buttermilk blend with dry ingredients, then add water if liquid buttermilk is required.

Click here to check the cultured buttermilk on Amazon.

Uncle Bob's Buttermilk Syrup

Buttermilk syrup is rich and creamy and made from top ingredients. Best toppings for waffles, pancakes, crepes, ice cream, toast, and more. Buttermilk syrup is gluten-free and all-natural.

Click here to check buttermilk syrup on Amazon.

Anthony's Premium Buttermilk Powder

This premium buttermilk powder is ideal for pancake mixes, salad dressings, and other recipes with buttermilk. Tested and verified gluten-free.

Click here to check buttermilk powder on Amazon.

Judee's Buttermilk Powder

Judee's buttermilk powder is ideal for cheesecakes, brownies, cookies, frostings, and pound cakes. You can also use this product in stews, soups, and sauces. For dips and other recipes that need liquid buttermilk, add 1/4 cup to the buttermilk powder.

Click here to check Judee's Buttermilk Powder on Amazon.

It's Just Buttermilk Powder

It's Just Buttermilk Powder is 100% made from sweet cream buttermilk. This buttermilk powder is ideal for cookies, cakes, pancakes, and biscuits. You can also use it in marinades, soups, and salad dressings.

Just add one cup of buttermilk powder to four cups of warm water. Stir and dissolve the powder. You can refrigerate the mixture for up to three days.

Click here to check buttermilk powder on Amazon.

Healthier Comforts Organic Buttermilk Powder

Organic buttermilk powder is USDA Certified Organic and perfect for baking varieties of pancakes, biscuits, bread loaves, and more.

This product is ideal as your food staples. You can mix 1/4 cup of buttermilk powder with a cup of water for the liquid buttermilk requirement in the recipe.

Click here to check organic buttermilk powder on Amazon.


Learning the characteristics of buttermilk and heavy cream characteristics will help you decide whether you can substitute one for another. We hope we have helped you. Have fun in the kitchen!

If you want to learn more about cooking and other kitchen ideas, read these posts:

Should Buttermilk Smell Sour?

What Can I Substitute For Milk In Quiche?

Pancake Batter Too Thick and Sticky — What to Do?

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