Waste-Me-Not Wednesdays: 8 of the Best Buttermilk Recipes
Let’s take a moment to discuss red velvet cupcakes. Like their cake cousin, red velvet cupcakes are shaded in bright or rich red hues, are topped with cream cheese frosting, and are utterly delicious. Buttermilk and cocoa powder are the stars of the show, creating that velvety texture so many seek when they bite into any derivative of red velvet. There is however, one downside to red velvet cake: You end up with a lot of leftover buttermilk.
As you might have guessed from last week’s post about bananas, I dislike wasting food or letting good food go to waste. Although there is a buttermilk substitute you can use involving white vinegar (or lemon juice) and milk, there is no replacing the real thing when it is such a prominent ingredient. Fine Cooking explains that the substitute will keep the original’s leavening properties, but when it comes to taste, there is no replacing buttermilk. It is an ingredient that takes your baking to the next level, and whenever possible, use buttermilk when a recipe calls for it.
Not only does it make your food taste better, but it is good for you, too. According to Livestrong, buttermilk is chock-full of probiotics. This makes it easy to digest, while also maintaining digestive health. Buttermilk protects the colon and can boost your immune system, too. It is lower in lactose than traditional milk, but like regular milk, has B12, phosphorous, potassium, and is a good source of calcium. So the next time a recipe calls for buttermilk, use the real deal and then make one of the following eight delicious recipes with the leftovers.
1. Red velvet cupcakes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3½ cups cake flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 cups canola oil
- 2¼ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- 1¼ cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2½ teaspoons white vinegar
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line cupcake tray with liners. (For the three-cake layer alternative, place a teaspoon of butter in each of the three round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter, and line bottoms with parchment.)
Whisk cake flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: It may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar, and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
Fill the cupcake wells ¾ of the way full (or divide batter among pans). Place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, between 20 and 25 minutes for cupcakes, 40 to 45 minutes for the cakes, checking ⅔ of the way through the minimum baking time. Cool completely before frosting. For the cakes, let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over, and peel off parchment.
2. Oven-baked buttermilk chicken fingers
Wishful Chef starts out marinating chicken strips in a buttermilk mixture. The best results for the chicken strips — and for fried chicken — happens after the strips have soaked overnight. At the very least, make sure you begin preparing your chicken three to four hours before you want to eat so that there is plenty of time for marinating and cooking. The yield is about 6 servings.
- 1 pound chicken strips
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1½ cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- olive oil
Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chicken strips in a gallon-size freezer bag. Add in the buttermilk, paprika, sugar, salt, and pepper. Seal and shake so the chicken pieces are well-coated. Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, for the best flavor.
Place the bread crumbs in a dish. Remove chicken strips from the buttermilk mixture and dredge in the bread crumb mixture to evenly coat. Arrange strips on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until cooked through and golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
3. Buttermilk mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes, like macaroni and cheese, is one of the ultimate comfort foods. Food Fanatic has a recipe for mashed potatoes that will help you use up leftover buttermilk and fill any creamy, cheesy mashed potato cravings you have at the time.
- 8-10 white potatoes (5 cups’ worth when mashed)
- 1 head garlic, roasted
- 1½ cups aged asiago cheese, grated
- ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons green onions, chopped, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup buttermilk
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap the whole bulb of garlic in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the cloves feel soft. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins from each clove of garlic and chop the cloves. Set aside.
While the garlic is roasting, bring a pot of water to a full boil. Chop the potatoes into large chunks and place them in a steamer. Place the steamer with the potatoes into the pot of boiling water. Cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft when poked with a fork.
Add all of the ingredients to a large pot and mash the potatoes using a potato masher (do this while the potatoes are still hot so that the cheese and butter melts). Pour the mashed potatoes into a large serving dish and garnish with green onion.
4. Macaroni and cheese
It just seems cruel to mention macaroni and cheese as a comfort food and then not mention a way to use buttermilk in a cheese-covered pasta recipe. When you want to bring a little heat and a lot of cheese to table, make Scarletta Bakes’ cheesy mac.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ¼ cup onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons chipotle chile, ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
- ½ teaspoon coriander, ground
- ½ teaspoon white pepper, ground
- ½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cups whipped cream cheese
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 6 cups cooked elbow pasta (any short pasta may be substitute.)
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese, grated (optional)
Directions: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more. Stir in the remaining butter, flour, chipotle chile, cumin, coriander, and white pepper, carefully mixing until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream and whipped cream cheese. Just as the cream cheese is melting, stir in the cheddar cheese.
Once the cheddar is completely melted into the other ingredients, stir in the buttermilk and finally the pasta, one cup at a time. Top with pepper jack cheese and place under a low broiler for approximately 3 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and golden on top. Remove and serve immediately.
5. Roasted strawberry buttermilk cake
If all the red velvet cupcakes haven’t caused a cake overdose in your life, make Joy the Baker’s roasted strawberry buttermilk cake. The cake bakes in a cast iron skillet, but an 11-inch round pan works as well.
- 8 ounces medium strawberries, hulled
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
- roasted strawberries
- 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar for topping
Directions: For the strawberries, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. The strawberries get juicy, so a rimmed baking sheet is important. Set aside.
Cut each strawberry in half and place in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, and salt. Whisk together until completely incorporated. Drizzle the mixture over the strawberries and toss until each strawberry is coated. Arrange strawberries in a single layer across prepared baking sheet.
Roast strawberries for 40 minutes. The juices will thicken, but remove the strawberries from the oven before the juices begin to burn. Remove the berries and juice from the pan while still warm. Place in a small bowl, stir in balsamic vinegar, and set aside.
To make the cake, place a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 11-inch cast iron skillet. You can also use an 11-inch round tart or quiche pan, or a 9-by-13-inch pan — although the cake will be more thin and you’ll need to keep a close eye on it in the oven.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and butter. Whisk in the vanilla or almond extract.
Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined and no lumps remain. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Top batter with half of the roasted strawberries and juice. Sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool to room temperature before slicing to serve. Serve with the remaining roasted strawberries. Cake will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to three days.
6. Blueberry buttermilk pancakes
A classic breakfast, fluffy buttermilk pancakes are exactly what you need to make on a weekend when you have too much buttermilk on your hands. The Food Network added blueberries and advises serving the pancakes with whipped cream. Be careful not to over-mix the batter, though, because you will end up with heavy, flat pancakes.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk
- ¼ cup melted unsalted butter, plus some for frying
- 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Directions: In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat the eggs with the buttermilk and melted butter. Combine the dry and the wet ingredients into a lumpy batter, being careful not to over-mix.
Heat some butter in a skillet over medium heat. Spoon ⅓ cup of batter into the skillet and sprinkle the top with some of the blueberries. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and maple syrup.
7. Buttermilk ranch dressing
Another way to use buttermilk that could save you money at the grocery store is to make your own dressing. Simply Recipes‘ version will have you ditching store-bought versions; it makes 1.5 cups of dressing.
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
- ¼ teaspoon of dry dill (or a teaspoon chopped fresh)
Directions: In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste. Keeps for a week, covered, in the fridge.
8. Buttermilk soup
Cool off on a warm summer evening with this chilled buttermilk soup from Epicurious. The soup comes together in minutes, and you won’t heat up your house with the oven or stove, since it doesn’t require any cooking.
- 3 cups well-shaken, chilled buttermilk
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped, bottled, pickled beets, plus 1/4 cup pickled beet liquid
- 1 cup chopped seedless cucumber (usually plastic-wrapped)
- ½ cup chopped radish
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Directions: Whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, and salt in a bowl, then stir in remaining ingredients. Chill 15 minutes before serving.