Whole Cultured Buttermilk: The Secret to Perfect Baked Goods

Have you ever wondered how professional bakers make perfect, moist baked goods every time? The secret ingredient might surprise you – whole cultured buttermilk. While many people associate buttermilk with Southern cooking, this versatile ingredient can take your baking to the next level, whether you’re making fluffy pancakes, tangy biscuits, or rich chocolate cake. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of using whole cultured buttermilk in your baked goods and share some easy recipes to get you started.

What is Whole Cultured Buttermilk?

Whole cultured buttermilk is a byproduct of making butter. Traditionally, buttermilk was the leftover liquid from churning fresh cream into butter. However, most modern buttermilk is made by adding lactic acid bacteria to skim milk, giving it a tangy flavor and thick, creamy texture. Whole cultured buttermilk is made from whole milk and contains a higher fat content, which adds richness and flavor to baked goods. It’s often used in recipes that call for acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice or vinegar, because the acidity activates baking soda and helps baked goods rise.

Benefits of Using Whole Cultured Buttermilk in Baked Goods


One of the main benefits of using whole cultured buttermilk in baked goods is its ability to add moisture. The fat content in whole milk helps keep baked goods moist and prevents them from drying out. This is especially important when making cakes and bread, which can become dry and crumbly without the addition of some type of liquid ingredient like buttermilk.


Whole cultured buttermilk has a tangy, slightly sour flavor that balances the sweetness in baked goods. It can also add depth and complexity to recipes by enhancing the flavor of other ingredients. For example, adding buttermilk to a chocolate cake recipe can bring out the richness of the chocolate and make it taste more complex and satisfying.


The acidity of whole cultured buttermilk can help tenderize gluten strands in baked goods, resulting in a softer, more tender texture. This is particularly important when making biscuits, scones, and other quick breads, which can become tough and chewy if overworked. The acidity of buttermilk also activates baking soda, which helps baked goods rise and gives them a fluffy, light texture.

Nutritional Value

Whole cultured buttermilk is a good source of calcium, protein, and other nutrients. It’s also lower in fat than some other dairy products, such as heavy cream. Adding buttermilk to your baked goods can add some nutritional value to your diet, particularly if you’re using whole milk buttermilk.

Recipes Using Whole Cultured Buttermilk

Buttermilk Pancakes


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole cultured buttermilk


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together milk, egg, and melted butter.
  3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk.
  5. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat.
  6. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake.
  7. Cook for 1-2 minutes until bubbles form on the surface.
  8. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are golden brown.
  9. Repeat with remaining batter.

Buttermilk Biscuits


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 3/4 cup whole cultured buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in buttermilk.
  5. Using a fork, stir until the mixture forms a soft dough.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently for 30 seconds.
  7. Roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thickness and cut into biscuits using a biscuit cutter or a glass.
  8. Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Serve warm with butter and jam.

Common Questions About Whole Cultured Buttermilk

Is whole cultured buttermilk the same as regular buttermilk?

Whole cultured buttermilk is made from whole milk, while regular buttermilk is made from low-fat or skim milk. The two types of buttermilk can be used interchangeably in most recipes, but whole cultured buttermilk has a higher fat content and richer flavor.

Can I make my own whole cultured buttermilk at home?

Yes, you can make your own whole cultured buttermilk by adding a small amount of buttermilk or plain yogurt to whole milk and letting it sit at room temperature for several hours or overnight. The bacteria in the buttermilk or yogurt will ferment the milk and create a tangy, thick liquid similar to store-bought buttermilk.

Can I substitute something else for whole cultured buttermilk?

If you don’t have whole cultured buttermilk on hand, you can use regular buttermilk or a mixture of milk and yogurt or sour cream. You can also make your own buttermilk substitute by adding a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk and letting it sit for a few minutes to curdle.


  • Bon Appetit. (2021). What is Buttermilk and What Makes It So Delicious? Retrieved from https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-buttermilk
  • MyRecipes. (2021). What’s the Difference Between Whole Buttermilk and Low Fat Buttermilk? Retrieved from https://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/cooking-questions/whole-buttermilk-vs-low-fat-buttermilk
  • Sally’s Baking Addiction. (2021). Homemade Buttermilk Substitute. Retrieved from https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/homemade-buttermilk-substitute/

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