Buttermilk Vs. Heavy Cream: What Is The Difference?

Buttermilk and heavy cream are dairy products, but they have different uses. Buttermilk is a type of low-fat milk that has been fermented, while heavy cream is high in fat content.

They both have nutritional benefits, but there are some critical differences between them.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between buttermilk and heavy cream.

What Is Buttermilk? 

Buttermilk is a dairy product that is made from sour milk. After churning butter, the thicker, solid components leftover are known as buttermilk.

It has a slightly acidic taste and can be used in regular milk for drinking or baking.

Many people use it in recipes that call for low-fat or non-dairy ingredients because it’s thicker than regular milk and has a lower fat content.

What Is Heavy Cream? 

Heavy cream is high in fat content and thick like other skimmed dairy creams such as taking cream and double cream. It is made from whole milk rather than separated into layers like other cream-based products.

Heavy cream is used in many recipes because it’s ideal for whipping, blending, and cooking since it doesn’t curdle or separate. Many commercial products are made from heavy cream rather than buttermilk because it has a longer shelf life.

What Are The Benefits? 

Buttermilk contains calcium which can help build strong bones. Calcium also aids the body with muscle control and enzyme reactions that occur throughout the body.

Heavy cream contains saturated fat, which can help support healthy brain function. If you’re trying to eat healthier, heavy cream is not an ideal dietary choice because of its high level of saturated fat that can increase your risk of heart disease.  

How Are They Used? 

Buttermilk is used in many recipes. Some popular buttermilk cooking dishes include biscuits, pancakes, and waffles. Many people drink it because it contains live cultures, aiding digestion.

Heavy cream is often used to make sauces or topping for desserts, and it’s also common to whip the cream before using it for other purposes like filling pastries or frosting cakes.

Which One Should You Use? 

If you’re looking to eat healthier, choose buttermilk over heavy cream since it has less saturated fat and can provide your body with helpful nutrients, especially calcium and healthy bacteria.

Buttermilk vs heavy cream: 

Buttermilk is thinner than heavy cream, so if you want a thicker product, ratio 1 cup buttermilk to 1 cup heavy cream for a substitute. Buttermilk is also lower in fat content, so it makes a better choice when you’re trying to reduce saturated fat from your diet.

What is old-fashioned buttermilk?

Most people think of buttermilk as a beverage, often enjoyed with breakfast. But old-fashioned buttermilk is not unlike another dairy product you might be familiar with: heavy cream.

Heavy cream is thicker than milk, and it has more fat in proportion to its volume. A cup of heavy cream weighs almost twice as much as a cup of whole milk does. What about buttermilk? Well, let’s compare the ingredients of both products so you can better understand their differences!   

For every one cup of heavy cream, there are 36 grams of fat. On the other hand, you have nine grams of sugar for every one cup of low-fat milk. That means that an eight-ounce glass of heavy cream has about the same sugar content as almost two cups of whole milk.

Buttermilk is low-fat milk with bacterial cultures added, which sour it slightly and gives it a unique flavour that some people love but others find unpleasant. The fat content of one cup of buttermilk is 11 grams on average.

What is cultured buttermilk?

In cultured buttermilk, lactic acid bacteria cultures transform carbohydrates into acid, which gives it its sour taste and thick texture. In the United States, cultured buttermilk must contain at least 4 per cent milkfat from cream to be labelled as such on a food label.

When can’t you swap heavy cream and buttermilk?

Buttermilk is thinner, less fatty, and has a slightly acidic flavour. Buttermilk can be used in place of heavy cream to create delicious sauces or dips that are lower in calories.

Heavy cream can also make these foods, but it will have a much thicker texture and more fat than buttermilk.

Buttermilk can also be used in baking recipes to add moisture and increase the rising process. However, other ingredients provide similar effects without leaving behind the sour taste of buttermilk.

Recipes for this type of substitution should generally instruct the cook not to use anything thicker than milk when trying to imitate buttermilk’s texture using another ingredient.

Heavy cream is ideal for whipped cream because it can be whipped much more quickly than buttermilk.

The high-fat content of heavy cream makes it a popular ingredient for baking and cooking because the fats left behind after heating heavy cream add flavour, texture, and richness to food.

Heavy cream also has a relatively long shelf life compared to buttermilk, although both dairy products should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling.

Can I Substitute Heavy Cream for Buttermilk?

You can’t substitute heavy cream for buttermilk either because the resulting flavour will be off-putting to many palates. Heavy cream is not sour like buttermilk, and it will negatively affect the taste of your recipe if you use it in place of buttermilk.

What Can I Substitute for Buttermilk?

If you find yourself needing to substitute buttermilk for another dairy product due to dietary restrictions or preferences, you can try one of these options instead:

Can’t find buttermilk at the grocery store? Some recipes that call for it may instead use plain yoghurt or sour cream without too much flavour alteration. Just make sure that whichever replacement option you choose has at least 0.5% fat content by weight.

Buttermilk Alternatives:

  • Plain Yogurt (0% – 4% fat)
  • Sour Cream (0.5% – 18% fat)

What are the Ingredients for Heavy Cream?

Heavy cream is considered to be the heavy version of whipping cream. Whipping/heavy cream contains around 35% milk fat.

It’s higher in fat than regular light whipping cream, containing around 30%. Heavy cream also has zero to tiny amounts of sugar or other ingredients.

What are the Ingredients for Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a low-fat dairy drink made from reduced or low-fat milk. This buttermilk recipe takes one cup of reduced-fat milk and mixes it with half a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. It then allows it to sit at room temperature for five minutes before using it as you would traditional buttermilk.

Is heavy whipping cream the same as heavy cream?

No, heavy whipping cream is a type of heavy cream. There are different types of cream depending on their fat content, and heavy cream has a high-fat content, while light cream has a lower fat content.

Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream contain more fat than regular cream, with 36% or more in each. Heavy whipping cream can be kept for longer and is ideal for pastry mixtures, piping, and garnishes.

What can you use in place of buttermilk?

You can use several substitutes for buttermilk in both baked goods and smoothies. For example, you can use 1 cup of yoghurt, 1 cup of milk, or 1 cup of sour cream. Alternatively, you can make your buttermilk by adding one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes before using.


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