Buttermilk vs Heavy Cream: Know the Differences

Buttermilk vs Heavy Cream
Buttermilk vs Heavy Cream

When it comes to cooking and baking, the choice between Buttermilk vs Heavy Cream can make a big difference.

Buttermilk and heavy cream are two dairy products that are commonly used in cooking and baking.  They are dairy products, they differ in terms of their fat content, consistency, and taste. 

Understanding the differences between buttermilk and heavy cream is essential for achieving the desired results in your culinary creations. In this article, we will explore the distinctive characteristics of these two dairy products and how to use them in cooking and baking.

difference between buttermilk and heavy cream


What is buttermilk

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product that is made by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk. This process causes the milk to thicken and develop a tangy flavor. Buttermilk is low in fat, with only around 2% fat content, and is often used in baking as it can help to tenderize baked goods like biscuits and cakes.

Traditional buttermilk is the liquid that remains after butter is churned from cream, but modern buttermilk is typically made by adding bacterial cultures to low-fat milk.

What is heavy cream?

Havy cream, also known as whipping cream. It is a dairy product that is made by skimming the top layer off of fresh milk. It has a high fat content, typically around 36%, and is often used in cooking and baking to add richness and creaminess to dishes like sauces and soups.

While both buttermilk and heavy cream are dairy products, their nutritional values differ significantly. Buttermilk is low in calories and fat, making it a healthier option for those watching their weight. Heavy cream, on the other hand, is high in calories and saturated fat, making it a less healthy option but a great ingredient when you want to add richness and decadence to your recipes.

Health Benefits: Buttermilk vs Heavy Cream

Choosing Between Buttermilk and Heavy Cream

Buttermilk and heavy cream are two dairy products that have distinct nutritional differences that can impact our health.

Health Benefits of Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a low-fat, low-calorie, and high-protein beverage. It is made from the liquid left over after churning butter, and it has a tangy, sour taste. Heavy cream is a high-fat, high-calorie, and low-protein dairy product that is commonly used in desserts, sauces, and soups. It is made by skimming the cream off the top of milk, and it has a rich, creamy texture.

Health Benefits of Heavy Cream

Exploring the Contrasts of Buttermilk and Heavy Cream

Heavy cream is its lower fat and calorie content. For individuals who are watching their weight or trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, buttermilk can be a great alternative to heavy cream. A cup of buttermilk contains only 99 calories and 2.2 grams of fat, while a cup of heavy cream has a whopping 821 calories and 88 grams of fat. This means that buttermilk can help you feel full and satisfied without adding unnecessary calories and fat to your diet.

Protein and Calcium Content

Another health benefit of buttermilk is its higher protein and calcium content compared to heavy cream. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues in our bodies, and it can also help us feel fuller for longer periods. A cup of buttermilk contains 8 grams of protein, while a cup of heavy cream has only 6 grams. Calcium is also critical for maintaining strong bones and teeth, and buttermilk is a rich source of this mineral. A cup of buttermilk contains 285 milligrams of calcium, while a cup of heavy cream has only 85 milligrams.

Buttermilk has several health benefits over heavy cream. It is lower in fat and calories but higher in protein and calcium, making it a healthier choice for individuals who are watching their weight or trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. By choosing buttermilk over heavy cream, you can enjoy the same delicious taste and texture in your recipes while reaping the nutritional benefits.

When to Use: Buttermilk Vs Heavy Cream


Two ingredients that are often used interchangeably are buttermilk and heavy cream. However, each one has its own unique properties that make it better suited for certain recipes over the other.

When deciding whether to use buttermilk or heavy cream, it is important to consider the specific recipe and the desired outcome. If you want to add tanginess and leavening to your baked goods, buttermilk is the way to go. If you want to add richness and creaminess to your sauces and desserts, heavy cream is the better choice. By understanding the properties of each ingredient, you can make informed decisions and create delicious dishes every time.

Regional variations of buttermilk and heavy cream

Heavy Cream

Regional variations of buttermilk and heavy cream are vast and diverse. In Southern American cuisine, buttermilk is a staple ingredient used in many dishes, including biscuits, pancakes, and fried chicken. It is also commonly used as a marinade for meats, providing a tangy flavor and tenderizing the meat. Heavy cream is often used in desserts, such as pecan pie and banana pudding, and as a base for sauces and gravies.

In Indian cuisine, buttermilk is known as chaas or lassi and is a popular drink during the hot summer months. It is made by blending yogurt with water and spices such as cumin, ginger, and mint. Heavy cream is used in rich curries such as butter chicken and is also added to desserts like kulfi, a type of Indian ice cream.

In French cuisine, heavy cream, or crème fraîche, is a key ingredient in many dishes, including soups, sauces, and desserts. It is often used to add richness and depth of flavor to dishes like quiches, gratins, and crème brûlée. Buttermilk is not commonly used in French cuisine, but it can be substituted with yogurt or sour cream in recipes that call for it.

The regional variations of buttermilk and heavy cream reflect the unique cultural and culinary traditions of different parts of the world. Whether it’s used to make fluffy biscuits in the American South, refreshing drinks in India, or decadent desserts in France, these ingredients are versatile and essential components of many cuisines around the globe.


In conclusion, the debate of Buttermilk vs Heavy Cream comes down to personal preference and the desired outcome. Buttermilk is a tangy and acidic dairy product that is perfect for baking and marinades, while Heavy Cream is a rich and fatty ingredient that is best used for creating creamy sauces and desserts. Both have their unique taste and composition, and it is important to understand the differences when cooking or baking.

Whether you choose to use Buttermilk or Heavy Cream, it is essential to choose high-quality ingredients that will enhance the flavor of your dishes.

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