How to Freeze Buttermilk

Create buttermilk "ice cubes" to use later for recipes

frozen buttermilk in ice tray
Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Tired of buying buttermilk for a recipe only to have the rest of the carton go bad before you figure out what to do with it? Freeze your leftovers, and they'll be there the next time you need them.

Just pour your extra buttermilk into an ice cube tray, pop it in the freezer, and transfer the cubes to a freezer bag once they're frozen. It's that easy. 

Buttermilk "Cube" Conversions

Of course, if you plan to use your frozen buttermilk "cubes" in a recipe, you'll need to know the conversions.

The approximations listed in the table below are based on the typical ice cube tray, which makes 1-ounce cubes. Measure your ice cube tray if you want precise measurements.

Buttermilk Cubes

Cup(s)

Tablespoons

Two

1/4

4

Four

1/2

8

Six

3/4

12

Eight

1

16

For larger cubes, consider investing in ice cube trays that make 2-inch cubes. This will give you cubes that are 1/2 cup each. It's a handy size for freezing buttermilk, as well as leftover wine and broth.

Plan Ahead

If you already know what you're going to use the buttermilk for, measure out the amount that you'll need before you freeze it. Pour individual servings into freezer bags. Label the bags, including how much buttermilk you put in each one. Then, arrange them on a cookie sheet, and freeze the whole tray. This will give you flat bags that are easy to stack and take up minimal space in the freezer.

Using Frozen Buttermilk

Thaw your cubes or freezer bags of frozen buttermilk in the fridge overnight, or add them directly to hot dishes.

If you don't have time to wait for them to thaw, defrost them in the microwave. Just go slowly; you don't want to cause your buttermilk to curdle or burn.

Freezing will cause the whey in buttermilk to separate from the milk fats. Just stir the buttermilk vigorously, or give it a quick whirl in the blender to bring everything back together.

Tips and Warnings

Before you freeze your buttermilk, take the time to ensure it has not passed its shelf life. Buttermilk will stay good in the fridge for about two weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So, make sure to keep track of the expiration date and freeze your buttermilk before then.

Freezing buttermilk will also alter its consistency and cause it to clump and separate, so don't use frozen buttermilk for drinking or uncooked recipes. It will still have its acid content, which is what is you need for baking because the acid helps baked products rise. (You can also use it as a meat tenderizer.)

If you're still not sold on the idea of freezing buttermilk, there are plenty of recipes that call for this versatile drink, such as buttermilk cake and fluffy buttermilk pancakes. And, if you're out of buttermilk, you can always use a buttermilk substitute or even make your own buttermilk