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How To Use Dry Buttermilk Powder

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Dry buttermilk powder is an extremely handy ingredient that we wished we knew about earlier!

It is literally just the dried form of fresh buttermilk but has many other benefits including having a longer shelf life, being a flavor enhancer, stabilizer, and emulsifying ingredient.

But, how do you use dry buttermilk powder? It depends on why you want to use it. If you are using it as a substitution for fresh buttermilk, you have to re-hydrate it and use it in a liquid form. You can also add it dry, but it will change the texture of the final product.

If you are using buttermilk powder as a flavor enhancer, you can whisk it into recipes with moisture, or simply sprinkle it over snacks.

It also acts as a binding ingredient and should be mixed along with the other ingredients, preferably added to the dry ingredients in the recipe.

Today, we will have a look at all things dry buttermilk powder including how it is made, how it functions in baking and cooking, the many pros it has, and how to best use it in recipes. 

What Is Dry Buttermilk Powder?

Before discussing exactly what dry buttermilk powder is, let’s have a look at what regular buttermilk is and how it is usually used.

Buttermilk is a type of fermented dairy-based drink. Buttermilk is made in 2 ways: traditionally and commercially.

Traditional buttermilk is less common today. It is made from the leftover liquid when butter is churned.

This liquid is then fermented using healthy (beneficial) bacteria. The acidity in the product made it beneficial because it had a slightly longer shelf life compared to regular milk.

Cultured buttermilk is commercially made and includes two additional processes to ensure that the milk is completely safe to consume. This includes being pasteurized and homogenized before the milk is fermented.

The safe milk is then inoculated with a specific bacterium to produce lactic acid, which gives this milk its tart flavor.

How Dry Buttermilk Is Made

So, like with most dry” products made from liquids, dry buttermilk is the dried form of its liquid counterpart. 

Commercial buttermilk is usually used to make dry buttermilk powder. This is because of the safety issues involved with traditional buttermilk. So, commercially made powdered buttermilk is made from pasteurized cream.

But, before the buttermilk is condensed (to create the thick liquid we know), the water inside it is evaporated to create a powder.

The water content of liquid buttermilk is reduced to roughly 5%. There are some other specific characteristics that the powdered form (by law) should have:

  • Less than 5% moisture content
  • More than 4.5% Milkfat (by weight)
  • A minimum protein content of 30%
  • May not be derived from or contain any dry milk powder, dry whey powder, skimmed milk powder, or non-fat milk powder
  • It may not contain any preservative
  • It may not contain any neutralizing agents or chemicals (like flavor enhancers)

Pros And Cons Of Dried Buttermilk

Dried buttermilk has a few pros and cons, especially when it is directly compared to fresh liquid buttermilk.


The biggest benefit is arguably that it has a much longer shelf life because of its low moisture content. Bacteria need moisture to survive and thrive.

So, by removing as much moisture as you can, the bacteria will take much longer to multiply to visible and dangerous levels. 

This enables you to keep dry buttermilk on hand at all times and use it in a pinch. You can also, in a way, have a lot more buttermilk on hand compared to buying fresh buttermilk the whole time.

You only need a tiny bit of dry buttermilk powder to create lots of liquid buttermilk.

It also has many functional advantages which we will discuss below. Some of these functions are much better compared to when using fresh buttermilk.

For example, dry buttermilk powder acts as an emulsifier and binding ingredient, something which fresh buttermilk powder doesn’t and cannot do.


The biggest con to using dry buttermilk is that it is dry buttermilk. While it should only contain buttermilk, it still doesn’t compare to the fresh product.

It will never be able to add the same amount of creaminess and mouthfeel that fresh buttermilk does.

Powdered buttermilk can also be hard to find depending on where you are located.

And then, on top of that, surprisingly, sometimes dried buttermilk is just as expensive, if not more expensive, than fresh buttermilk because it is considered a specialty ingredient.

Functions Of Dry Buttermilk Powder In Recipes 

Dry buttermilk powder has many uses in baking and cooking!

  • It is an excellent product that promotes browning, especially in baked goods. The proteins inside of the buttermilk powder react with other ingredients which then help promote the Maillard reaction (the browning effect of sugars when heat is applied). And, because it is in powdered form, the sugars are much more concentrated.
  • It is a flavor enhancer in baked products or when heat is applied (in savory cooking like when making sauces). The buttermilk powder gives items a baked flavor and also gives you hints of creamy dairy products.
  • Dry buttermilk powder acts as an emulsifying ingredient. As you may know, oil (fat) and water don’t mix very easily. By using the dried form (of fat), it aids in stabilizing the fat and water mixture and creates an overall emulsified product, like a sauce for example.
  • This dried powder also improves the overall mouthfeel of your dishes. It creates a creamy and smooth texture that can be especially useful in low-fat recipes.
  • Dry buttermilk powder also adds nutritional value to your products. It contains a high amount of calcium, protein, and some other vitamins and minerals.
  • It works as an excellent binding ingredient, especially for liquid products as it absorbs most of the moisture. As the milk powder absorbs and helps bind the ingredients together, it also retains the moisture and creates a moist product.

When To Use Dry Buttermilk Powder In Recipes

Buttermilk powder is more commonly used in baking recipes than in savory dishes like soups and sauces. This is for a couple of reasons.

When baking, chemical reactions need to take place and by using very specific ratios. If for example, you are substituting ingredients and a recipe has too much moisture, you would need to increase the dry ingredient ratio.

This can be done, for example, by substituting the fresh buttermilk with a dried powder.

By extension, this means you can fix recipes while still adding beneficial characteristics. If you were, for example, to add more flour to a recipe (to make it dried) it would only make a denser product.

But, by adding dry buttermilk powder, it acts as a binding ingredient, emulsifier, and improves the texture, flavor, and color of the item.

Other than adjusting the characteristics of baking recipes, there are some other ingenious ways to use buttermilk.

Because buttermilk does act as a flavor enhancer, by mixing some with sea salt flakes, you can brilliantly season fresh salads, ground meat, soups, and sauces.

You can also dip fresh fruits in some buttermilk powder before grilling or roasting them. The sugars in the buttermilk will caramelize and create a much more evenly browned and rich color. Not to mention the delicious flavors it will add!

It is also an excellent way to adjust the consistency of sauces and dips without having to compromise the flavor. Not only does it add flavor, but it will help thicken your sauce.

And to thin it, simply combine some buttermilk powder with water and use this liquid to help thin the item.

How To Use Dry Buttermilk Powder In Recipes

Dry buttermilk powder is extremely easy to use, but you have to consider which form you want to use it in.

Substituting Fresh Buttermilk

If you need it in liquid form or to substitute fresh buttermilk, you will have to re-hydrate the powder. But this is extremely easy.

The exact ratio to re-hydrate the powder varies from brand to brand. This is because different powders have different moisture percentages.

So, as an average rule of thumb, we would recommend combining ¼ cup of dry buttermilk powder with 1 cup of water. Make sure to mix the two ingredients well to ensure that there aren’t any lumps present.

If you don’t want to re-hydrate the dry buttermilk, you can still make the recipe as you usually would and simply add the dry buttermilk along with the dry ingredients.

The recipe should be more or less the same, but keep in mind that there will be a difference in texture.

When Adding Flavor

Depending on what you are flavoring, you can either simply sprinkle the buttermilk powder over the item, or add it to the recipe alongside the dry ingredients.

For example, you can easily sprinkle it over popcorn or make a seasoning salt with it. But, if you want to add it to sauces or soups, you will have to whisk it into the base.

How To Correctly Store Dry Powdered Buttermilk

Dry buttermilk powder, like any type of powder, should be kept in an airtight container to prevent moisture from altering its texture.

When buttermilk powder comes into contact with any moisture, it will immediately start absorbing it and form lumps.

This also means that you should store it in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight or any heat sources. Heat or high humidity could cause condensation inside of the package or container, which will then be absorbed by the powder.

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