Can You Freeze Buttermilk?

Yes! Here’s how.

Don't pour out your leftover buttermilk! Freeze it to make it last months past its expiration date. Here's what you need to know about freezing and thawing buttermilk:

How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

A refrigerated carton of unopened buttermilk should be safe to drink up to two weeks after its best-by date. An opened container stored in the fridge, meanwhile, will be good for 14 days after it's opened.

How Can You Tell If Buttermilk Has Gone Bad?

When buttermilk is past its prime, its consistency will change: It will become thick and chunky instead of smooth. Fresh buttermilk has a relatively tangy odor, but expired buttermilk will smell strong and sour. Of course, if your buttermilk is growing mold or is discolored, throw it out.

Can You Freeze Buttermilk?

Yes! You can freeze buttermilk, and you absolutely should if you don't think you'll use it up before it expires. It should stay good in the freezer for about three months — about two and a half months longer than refrigerated buttermilk.

How to Freeze Buttermilk

You can freeze buttermilk in its original carton, but only if you've already used some of it. Liquid expands as it freezes, so it needs a little bit of room to grow. You can also freeze buttermilk in an ice cube tray (this is especially handy if you'll only use a little bit at a time).

Our favorite way to freeze buttermilk, though, is in precise measurements in freezer-safe bags. Why? You'll only have to thaw exactly how much you need for a given recipe. Make life a little easier on your future self by dividing the liquid up into common portions (1 cup, ½ cup, ¼ cup, etc.) and labeling the containers with the date and amount.

To freeze buttermilk:

  1. Decide how you want to divide the buttermilk. One quart-sized carton contains about 4 cups. You could freeze four cups separately or you can mix and match the measurements: Cover all your bases by freezing two 1-cup portions, two ½-cup portions, and four ¼-cup portions.
  2. Label freezer-safe bags with the date and measurements. You'll want to get your labeling out of the way before divvying up the buttermilk, as it's no fun trying to write on liquid-filled bags. If you want to go the extra mile, you can pull out your calendar and calculate the date three months from now — this'll serve as your easily accessible expiration date.
  3. Pour the buttermilk (in pre-measured portions) into the bags. Remove as much excess air as you can before sealing the top. Lay the bags flat in the freezer to save space.

How to Thaw Buttermilk

To thaw frozen buttermilk, simply transfer it from the freezer to the fridge the night before you plan to use it. If you're short on time, fill a bowl with warm (not hot or boiling) water and submerge the sealed bag. The buttermilk should thaw in about half an hour, though you may need to replace the water once or twice as it cools.

What to Do With Leftover Buttermilk

a slice of Bundt cake on a plate with the rest of the cake in the background
Baking Nana

If you don't want to go through the trouble of freezing your leftover buttermilk, there are plenty of ways to use it up before it expires. Try one of these Buttermilk Cakes to Use Up Your Carton or explore our entire collection of Buttermilk Recipes.


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