HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Are you making a specialty food? Share your adventure

What do you think of powdered buttermilk?

dipsy Jun 7, 2008 11:57 AM

I saw, and then bought, a container of buttermilk powder at Whole Foods last night. It seemed like it would be good in a pinch. Does anyone use it? I find I often buy buttermilk but toss it before I get around to using it, unless I have a specific recipe in mind when I'm grocery shopping, so this seemed like a possibly good pantry staple. Thoughts?

  1. Ruthie789 Oct 6, 2013 05:04 AM

    You can freeze the excess for future use.

    1. lynnlato Oct 5, 2013 06:19 PM

      I use it to make a healthier version of green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. Here's a link to the recipe:


      1. Ruthie789 Oct 11, 2012 06:23 PM

        I bought some and used for my Red Velvet Cake. The cake was very good but wonder if the texture would have been better with the regular buttermilk. It is very handy, and keeps well and is always on hand this way when recipes call for it. I see this is an old thread so have you been using it and what are your thoughts on it now. I was also wondering if the powder could be used with milk instead of the called for water?

        22 Replies
        1. re: Ruthie789
          MacGuffin Oct 5, 2013 08:26 AM

          Ah, but there's a difference between supermarket buttermilk and the powder, e.g. Saco (which I have at all times in my fridge). Supermarket buttermilk is cultured skim milk and Saco is powdered churn buttermilk blended with some powdered whey. IOW, one isn't the powdered version of the other.

          Why would you want to reconstitute with milk? First,the powder is already milk and second, the recipes calling for buttermilk are looking for a liquid that's both acid AND very low in fat. Adding milk to reconstitute the powder could likely result in a greasier product than what you want. Sometimes it's best to resist the urge to gild the lily.

          1. re: MacGuffin
            The Professor Oct 5, 2013 10:05 AM

            Actually, the SACO stuff is quite good when reconstituted with skim milk (or lowfat milk, which is what I use).

            1. re: The Professor
              MacGuffin Oct 5, 2013 10:38 AM

              For my purposes, that's overkill (especially since SACO already has added whey) but would be better than using whole milk. I occasionally buy Skim Plus that I immediately freeze it into ice cubes and store for use in certain smoothies; beyond that and with the exception of the churn buttermilk I now have access to, I never buy low-fat or skim milk--it's whole all the way, preferably thermized or raw and from Jerseys. Since you seem to have it on hand, why bother with buttermilk powder at all? You can just sour what's needed with vinegar, 1 T. white vinegar and milk to equal one cup (I'm all about keeping it simple).

            2. re: MacGuffin
              paulj Oct 5, 2013 11:20 AM

              But most cake recipes are high in fat. Some have described cakes as 'trying to use as much fat and sugar as the flour and eggs can support'.

              If the recipe does not use other fat (butter or oil) then the use of buttermilk (dry or fresh) as a low fat substitute for plain milk makes sense. But more likely it is there for the flavor and/or acidity. The amount of fat that 2 or 4% milk adds to a cake recipe is usually incidental.

              1. re: paulj
                MacGuffin Oct 5, 2013 02:34 PM

                I agree (although I can't think of any cake recipes offhand that lack fat). But too much fat can result in a coarse, greasy crumb, especially if there's an ingredient like cocoa which home bakers often don't consider is high in fat (manufacturers of premium ice cream take this into account and use less butterfat in chocolate ice cream than in other flavors).

                Kind of apropos of your non-fat point: I can think of at least one recipe that was traditionally made with sour whole milk that now calls for buttermilk (I suppose because it sounds better than sour milk), and that's Irish soda bread, both white and wholemeal. There's no added fat in the recipe so sour milk really does make for a nicer product than buttermilk.

                1. re: MacGuffin
                  paulj Oct 5, 2013 03:47 PM

                  Traditional soda bread is at the low-fat end of the biscuit continuum. I hadn't noticed whether traditional recipes distinguished between sour milk and buttermilk (not even the traditional kind, left over from making butter). But I agree that the inclusion of some fat improves the taste, especially when it is no longer fresh and hot.

                  1. re: paulj
                    MacGuffin Oct 5, 2013 05:02 PM

                    I have an Irish friend in her late 60's who grew up in rural Eire. She told me that her mother always had whole milk clabbering for use in baking. As you probably know (since you're clearly familiar with the biscuity quality of authentic soda), Irish flour is soft and baked goods are leavened with baking soda, hence the need for acid. Her mom didn't pasteurize her milk either, so it clabbered nice and thick and smooth instead that yechy separated and malodorous mess we know and love.

              2. re: MacGuffin
                Ruthie789 Oct 5, 2013 05:53 PM

                I find the regular buttermilk thick as opposed to the powdered but love the convenience of it and I do love anything baked with buttermilk.

                1. re: Ruthie789
                  MacGuffin Oct 5, 2013 06:17 PM

                  You can't beat it for convenience and it's nice and tart, too. It's also a nice add-in for smoothies that benefit from added "tart milkiness." I also use it for Red Velvet Cake and find it works great. Are you using cake flour and sifting it before measuring? You really need it for good texture.

                  1. re: MacGuffin
                    Ruthie789 Oct 5, 2013 06:58 PM

                    I sift my flour even when making quick breads and use the proper measuring cups for dry and wet ingredients. I should probably use a scale for super accurate measures, not there yet.

                    1. re: Ruthie789
                      MacGuffin Oct 5, 2013 07:17 PM

                      You need cake flour for RVC. Swans Down is good. Trust me on this. :(=)

                      1. re: MacGuffin
                        Ruthie789 Oct 6, 2013 05:02 AM

                        I have one recipe using the cake flour and the other all purpose. I like Swans Down cake flour and use it often!

              3. re: Ruthie789
                paulj Oct 5, 2013 09:20 PM

                Regarding the use of buttermilk in RVC:

                "James Beard's 1972 reference, American Cookery,[1] describes three red velvet cakes varying in the amounts of shortening and butter, also vegetable oil. All used red food coloring, but the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in cocoa and keeps the cake moist, light and fluffy. Before more alkaline "Dutch processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced."

                p.s. - just noticed that the original post was 2008. Though the topic still relevant.

                1. re: paulj
                  Ruthie789 Oct 6, 2013 05:03 AM

                  I agree that it is still relevant. Buttermilk is a great addition to many recipes, I also make an oven-fried chicken using it. Buttermilk and chicken = great combination.

                  1. re: Ruthie789
                    pine time Oct 6, 2013 08:51 AM

                    Last month, I experimented w/ buttermilk in brownies: whoohoo, fantastic!

                  2. re: paulj
                    MacGuffin Oct 6, 2013 01:30 PM

                    Oh, no...once again this dreaded online "reference to a reference" rears its head. Despite having read this claim a gazillion times, I have yet to find anything even remotely resembling it in AC (or any other Beard cookbook for that matter). He lists recipes for three cakes with cocoa that use red food coloring: Red Velvet, Red Devil's Food and a variation on it called "Mahogany"; all, BTW, call for butter. If this is true, I'd really like to know where it actually appeared so I can read it for myself.

                    1. re: MacGuffin
                      paulj Oct 6, 2013 03:45 PM

                      Are you worried about the oil use?

                      This is a buttermilk thread.


                      Most of these 'chocolate beet' cakes use oil (but no buttermilk, or even milk).

                      this one has oil and buttermilk

                      1. re: paulj
                        MacGuffin Oct 6, 2013 04:00 PM

                        Not in the least. I only make reference to the (as far as I can tell apocryphal) Beard "description" you posted that appears verbatim all over the Internet. If it's in American Cookery, it's not in the index, or the cake chapter, or the recipe. It might be somewhere else but if it's in AC, its location there is beyond my powers of divination. Not that it matters, but his recipe calls for both buttermilk and cake flour, not to mention (go figure) cinnamon.

                        1. re: MacGuffin
                          paulj Oct 6, 2013 07:51 PM

                          Inspired by this thread I just made a chocolate cake, working roughly from the recipe on a box of Trader Joes cocoa. I changed butter to oil, reduced the sugar, and included almond meal. I was quite pleased with the result. It wasn't red in anyway, but with a strong chocolate flavor, moist, but clearly more cake than brownie, with hint of the almond meal texture.

                          1 c flour
                          1/2c cocoa
                          1/2c sugar
                          1/2c almond meal
                          1/2t salt
                          1/2t baking soda
                          1t baking powder
                          add (no need for a separate bowl)
                          2 eggs
                          1/2c oil
                          1 t vanilla
                          3/4c buttermilk (more or less to make a right looking batter)
                          mix till well combined (used electric hand mixer)
                          9" pan, 350, 40 min, or until pulling away from edges and probe comes out clean.

                          The TJ cocoa is Columbian, which they claim is richer in cocoa fat. In this cake is gives a good lingering flavor, similar to a good dark chocolate.

                          This is recipe on the box

                          1. re: paulj
                            MacGuffin Oct 6, 2013 10:13 PM

                            I'm also a fan of TJ cocoa. I actually prefer this one http://livesuperfoods.com/raw-vegan-f... , but it's a LOT more expensive. I save it for special occasions.

                            Did you use SACO?

                            1. re: MacGuffin
                              paulj Oct 6, 2013 11:17 PM

                              No - fresh buttermilk (TJ). I do have powdered bm in the fridge, but haven't used it much since I started using the fresh quarts. Powdered was my 'gateway' to buttermilk. But now I use enough to buy it fresh (about a quart every 2 weeks). Plus TJ's fresh is good quality.

                              We don't drink much fresh milk, so I do stock powder whole milk (Nido) for use in sauces and the like.

                              1. re: paulj
                                MacGuffin Oct 7, 2013 04:59 AM

                                LOL powdered was my gateway OUT (or at least "out" from souring fresh). We must've passed each other coming and going. :) The irony is that SACO had been a staple in my fridge for quite a few years as a smoothie add-in before I had my "DUH" moment. And are you aware that they also produce a cocoa blend?

                2. m
                  MmmDatGood Oct 11, 2012 12:27 PM

                  I use it and I like it for baking, pancakes, etc. The good thing about it is that it is handy and keeps for months in the fridge. But I think if you were making, say, a salad dressing, you might want to use the real deal from the dairy rack. A good powdered brand is Saco.

                  1. meatn3 Oct 10, 2012 11:09 AM

                    The dried is great. Just a heads up, as long as it is sealed well it will last for years in the fridge!
                    As another-adam said, I wouldn't use it for buttermilk soup but it is terrific in other applications.

                    1. a
                      alliels Oct 9, 2012 03:59 PM

                      Curious question for you powdered buttermilk users.

                      I've followed the directions and added the powder to the dry ingredients and water to the liquid ingredients. However what if a recipe asks you to alternate between adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the already mixed wet ingredients (this is for quick bread recipes)?

                      Sounds weird to be alternating between adding flour and water.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: alliels
                        paulj Oct 9, 2012 11:01 PM

                        Why would a quick bread recipe add the buttermilk like this? Why doesn't it just add all the buttermilk the wet, and then mix the wet and dry as in a normal 'muffin method'. Does it suggest adding only enough buttermilk to give the right consistency?

                        I can think of two options:
                        - mix the buttermilk powder with the water, and use that like regular buttermilk
                        - put the water in the wet bowl, and then mix wet and dry, ignoring the 'alternate' instructions.

                        1. re: paulj
                          alliels Oct 10, 2012 02:24 AM

                          Yea I think I'm gonna go with skipping the alternate instructions. I was looking at past quick bread recipes I've made and they vary from doing the alternate method to the regular wet into dry method.

                          I always thought adding it by alternating is a good way to prevent overmixing the batter with the addition of all the dry ingredients but I think I've made enough quick breads to hopefully know what I'm doing!

                      2. pattisue Jun 8, 2008 02:17 PM

                        I use it for Texas Sheet Cake (great chocolate cake). It's very convenient to have on hand.

                        1. sarahjay Jun 8, 2008 01:27 PM

                          I use it in my red velvet cake and use water from cooking beets as the liquid to color the cake without food color. Definitely a staple.

                          1. f
                            fern Jun 8, 2008 07:26 AM


                            Do yourself a favor and make Candy's Chocolate Pound Cake. The first link above takes you to some discussion about using fresh vs powdered buttermilk in the recipe. I tried it with powdered and have done it that way each time. It's really delicious.

                            The second link takes you to the recipe.

                            Powdered buttermilk is very handy.


                            1. q
                              QSheba Jun 8, 2008 06:20 AM

                              Second the rec. for Saco/Saeco sp? We use it for all our baked goods, pancakes, etc. Better than normal buttermilk! We don't use it as a sub for things like, salad dressing however.

                              1. q
                                Querencia Jun 7, 2008 08:18 PM

                                SACO powdered buttermilk makes the best biscuits I have ever been able to produce. The recipe used to be on the can but isn't always nowadays, but here it is: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 3 tablespoons SACO, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp soda, 1 tablespoon sugar. Cut in 1/3 cup cold butter. Quickly stir in 2/3 cup ice water. Pat to 1" thickness, cut into biscuits, bake on greased cookie sheet @400* x 10-12 minutes.

                                1. heidipie Jun 7, 2008 07:48 PM

                                  Indispensible in my weekly pancakes. I haven't branched out into much else besides baked goods though. Thought about sprinkling some into my mashed potatoes tonight, but didn't get around to it.

                                  1. a
                                    another_adam Jun 7, 2008 06:23 PM

                                    Ditto, I love the stuff! THough I wouldn't necessarily use it for something where buttermilk is the front row ingredient (e.g., buttermilk soup), I use it in just about anything else!! I think it's one of the greatest inventions of the modern era. :)

                                    1. speyerer Jun 7, 2008 03:00 PM

                                      I use it like well...buttermilk. After all buttermilk powder is pasteurized buttermilk that is concentrated with an evaporator and dried to produce the buttermilk powder

                                      1. The Librarian Jun 7, 2008 12:24 PM

                                        I have it in the frig at all times. I use it in cornbread and biscuits, any kind of baked item calling for buttermilk. I initially bought it because I was tired of throwing out half-empy cartons of fresh.

                                        Show Hidden Posts