Can you freeze buttermilk?

Buttermilk, the delightfully tangy liquid, originates from the butter-making process, resulting in a blend of water, milk proteins, sugars, and a touch of fat. In the past, it fermented naturally, but today it’s cultured for consistency. 

However, many are unsure whether they can freeze buttermilk without compromising its quality.

So Can You Freeze Buttermilk, And If Yes Then How Do We Freeze It?

Yes, you can freeze buttermilk for up to three months. Portion and seal it in airtight containers, labeling them with the date. Thaw in the refrigerator and stir before use. Freezing preserves its usability for various recipes.

How To Freeze Buttermilk?

Freezing buttermilk is a practical solution when you have leftovers or want to stock up for future baking or cooking endeavors. Buttermilk adds a delightful tanginess and moisture to recipes like pancakes, biscuits, and dressings. Here’s a simple guide on how to freeze buttermilk effectively:

  • Choose the Right Container: Opt for an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. Ensure it’s clean and has enough space to accommodate the quantity of buttermilk you want to freeze.
  • Portion Control: Consider freezing buttermilk in smaller portions, like ice cube trays or measured cups. This way, you can thaw only what you need without wasting any.
  • Mix Well: Give the buttermilk a gentle stir before freezing to redistribute any separated solids.
  • Labeling: Don’t forget to label the container with the date you froze it. This helps you keep track of its freshness.
  • Freeze: Place the container in the freezer. Buttermilk can be safely frozen for up to three months.
  • Thaw and Use: When you’re ready to use the frozen buttermilk, transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw slowly. Use it in your favorite recipes as you would fresh buttermilk.
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How To Defrost Frozen Buttermilk?

Buttermilk can go directly from the freezer to the recipe, no defrosting is required. The frozen buttermilk will defrost once mixed with the other ingredients. Extra time may be needed if the recipe requires smooth, liquid buttermilk. To defrost buttermilk quickly, place the frozen container in the refrigerator overnight. A pint container usually defrosts within 12-24 hours. Larger amounts may take up to 2 days.

For faster defrosting, leave the container at room temperature for 1-2 hours. After thawing this way, immediately return unused buttermilk to the refrigerator.

To thaw just what you need, remove buttermilk cubes from the freezer and place them in a bowl. Use hot water to speed up thawing, changing the water until cubes can be mashed smooth.

Avoid defrosting buttermilk on the counter or microwave, as heat can alter the taste and cause separation. Gently mix defrosted buttermilk before use.

How To Tell If Buttermilk Has Gone Bad?

It can be challenging to tell if buttermilk has gone bad, but there are a few signs to watch for:

  • Curdling – Fresh buttermilk should be smooth and creamy. If it looks curdled with clumpy bits, it has likely spoiled.
  • Thick texture – Buttermilk naturally thickens over time but becomes very thick and paste-like when expired.
  • Mold – Check the sides and bottom of the container carefully for any mold growth. Toss if any fuzzy spots appear.
  • Sour smell – Buttermilk has a tangy smell when fresh. An overly sour, bitter odor indicates spoilage.
  • Off tastes – Small sips should not taste unpleasant if buttermilk is still good. A distinct bitterness or sourness means it has gone bad.
  • Past expiration date – Buttermilk is only good 1-2 weeks past the “sell by” or “use by” date on the container.
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When in doubt, it is best to discard buttermilk. Freezing can extend the shelf life if you cannot use it immediately after opening.

How To Use Frozen Buttermilk?

Frozen buttermilk can be used just like fresh in recipes. Here are some tips:

  • Allow extra time for frozen buttermilk to defrost and incorporate smoothly into wet ingredients like batters and doughs.
  • Shake or stir thawed buttermilk before using it to distribute the thickness evenly. Mixing well helps avoid clumping.
  • For drier recipes like biscuits, quick breads, and pancakes, grate the frozen buttermilk into the dry ingredients. It will defrost and blend as the dough comes together.
  • Buttermilk defrosted in the refrigerator may separate a bit. Whisk or blend before use to re-emulsify. The taste is unaffected.
  • Avoid defrosting buttermilk in the microwave, as high heat alters the flavor. Room temperature thawing works best.
  • Drain off any excess liquid after defrosting. The buttermilk solids are what provide lift and tang in recipes.
  • Frozen buttermilk works wonderfully in baked goods, marinades, salad dressings, ice cream, and any recipe needing buttermilk.

With proper freezing techniques, frozen buttermilk retains its acidic nature to react with baking soda and helps cakes, quick breads, and muffins rise. The results will be moist and tender.

How To Store Buttermilk?

For the best quality and longest shelf life, buttermilk requires proper storage:

  • Refrigerate unopened buttermilk immediately, even before the expiration date. Keep the temperature at or below 40°F.
  • Place cartons on an interior refrigerator shelf away from the door. Frequent temperature fluctuations shorten shelf life.
  • Once opened, transfer unused buttermilk to an airtight container. Mason jars or resealable plastic bottles help prevent contamination.
  • Leave 1⁄2 inch of headspace in containers to allow for expansion during freezing. Seal tightly.
  • Label frozen containers with quantity, date frozen, and “buttermilk.” Store no more than 2-3 months.
  • When freezing cubes, transfer them to sealed freezer bags once solid. Exclude as much air as possible and flatten bags to save space.
  • Thaw frozen buttermilk overnight in the refrigerator for best results. Gently stir or whisk before using to evenly distribute thickness.
  • Use thawed buttermilk within 1-2 days. Do not refreeze buttermilk once it has thawed. Discard if any mold, curdling, or sour smells develop.
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Following proper refrigeration and freezing guidelines will maintain buttermilk’s freshness, texture, and flavor. With careful storage, none of these versatile ingredient will go to waste.


Q1. Why can you not freeze buttermilk?

A1. The texture of buttermilk changes when frozen, causing it to curdle or separate once thawed.

Q2. Can you freeze buttermilk and use it later?

A2. It’s not recommended as frozen buttermilk will curdle after thawing due to texture changes during freezing.

Q3. Does freezing buttermilk change the texture?

A3. Yes, freezing gives buttermilk a chunky, curdled texture. It does not retain its smooth liquid state.

Q4. Does frozen buttermilk curdle?

A4. Yes, frozen buttermilk tends to curdle and separate after thawing due to irreversible texture changes.

Q5. Is frozen buttermilk good for baking?

A5. No, frozen buttermilk won’t work well for baking. The curdled texture doesn’t produce the same results.

Q6. How long will buttermilk keep in the refrigerator?

A6. Buttermilk will be kept refrigerated for up to 2 weeks past the use-by date printed on the carton.

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Melissa Baker

Melissa Baker

I am a food lover and the founder of FoodQueries. I have years of experience when it comes to food. I have been cooking since childhood and I know a thing or two about storing, cooking and freezing food in the right way.