Buttermilk vs. Milk

What's the Difference?

Buttermilk and milk are both dairy products, but they have distinct differences in taste, texture, and nutritional content. Milk is a white liquid produced by mammals, primarily cows, and is consumed in its natural form or used as an ingredient in various recipes. It has a creamy and slightly sweet taste, making it a popular choice for drinking, baking, and cooking. On the other hand, buttermilk is a fermented dairy product made by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk, resulting in a tangy and slightly sour flavor. It has a thicker consistency compared to regular milk and is often used in baking to add moisture and enhance the flavor of baked goods. In terms of nutrition, milk is a rich source of calcium, protein, and vitamins, while buttermilk is lower in fat and calories but still provides essential nutrients. Ultimately, the choice between buttermilk and milk depends on personal preference and the specific culinary application.


Photo by Mario Raj on Unsplash
SourceByproduct of butter-makingMammary glands of mammals
Calories99 kcal per cup103 kcal per cup
Protein8g per cup8g per cup
Fat2g per cup2.5g per cup
Calcium285mg per cup276mg per cup
Vitamin D0.5mcg per cup2.9mcg per cup
Photo by Eiliv Aceron on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to dairy products, milk and buttermilk are two popular choices that offer distinct flavors and nutritional profiles. While both are derived from cows, their production processes and compositions differ, resulting in unique attributes. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of buttermilk and milk, highlighting their taste, texture, nutritional content, and culinary uses.

Taste and Texture

Milk, known for its creamy and slightly sweet taste, is a staple in many households. It has a smooth texture and a refreshing quality when consumed cold. On the other hand, buttermilk has a tangy and slightly sour taste, which is a result of the fermentation process it undergoes. Its texture is thinner compared to milk, making it a popular ingredient in various culinary preparations.

Nutritional Content

When it comes to nutritional content, both milk and buttermilk offer a range of essential nutrients. Milk is an excellent source of calcium, protein, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. It also contains other vitamins and minerals necessary for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. On the other hand, buttermilk is lower in fat and calories compared to milk. It is rich in probiotics, which promote a healthy gut and aid in digestion. Additionally, buttermilk contains vitamins such as riboflavin and vitamin B6.

Culinary Uses

Milk is a versatile ingredient used in various culinary applications. It is commonly used in baking, making creamy sauces, and adding richness to coffee or tea. Milk is also the base for many dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. On the other hand, buttermilk is a popular ingredient in baking, particularly for making fluffy pancakes, tender biscuits, and moist cakes. Its acidity helps activate baking soda, resulting in a lighter texture in baked goods. Buttermilk is also used in marinades for tenderizing meat and in salad dressings for a tangy flavor.

Production Process

The production processes of milk and buttermilk differ significantly. Milk is obtained by milking cows and then undergoing various processes such as pasteurization and homogenization to ensure safety and consistency. On the other hand, buttermilk is a byproduct of the butter-making process. It is the liquid left behind after churning cream into butter. Traditionally, buttermilk was obtained by allowing cream to naturally ferment, resulting in a tangy flavor. However, modern buttermilk is often made by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk, which ferments the lactose and creates the characteristic taste.

Health Benefits

Both milk and buttermilk offer health benefits, but their profiles differ. Milk is an excellent source of calcium, which is crucial for maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also provides protein for muscle growth and repair. Additionally, milk contains vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. On the other hand, buttermilk's probiotic content promotes a healthy gut microbiome, aiding digestion and potentially boosting the immune system. The lower fat content in buttermilk makes it a suitable option for individuals looking to reduce their calorie intake.


In conclusion, while both buttermilk and milk are derived from cows, they possess distinct attributes that set them apart. Milk offers a creamy and slightly sweet taste, while buttermilk has a tangy and sour flavor. Milk is rich in calcium, protein, and vitamins, while buttermilk is lower in fat and calories and contains beneficial probiotics. Both have their culinary uses, with milk being a versatile ingredient and buttermilk being particularly useful in baking. Understanding the differences between these two dairy products allows individuals to make informed choices based on their taste preferences and nutritional needs.

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