Should You Freeze Buttermilk?

This Southern staple has a longer shelf life than you think.

Herbed Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Photo: Alison Miksch

We've all been there: You bought a quart of buttermilk to make our best-ever biscuits, and suddenly a week has gone by and you still have half of a carton left in the refrigerator. While there are tons of delicious and creative ways to use buttermilk (Herbed Buttermilk Ranch Dressing or Triple-Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake, anyone?), you can store it in your freezer with great results.

Simply give the buttermilk a good shake and pour it into ice cube trays by the tablespoon. Once they are frozen, pop the cubes into a ziplock plastic freezer bag. Like all frozen foods, buttermilk will keep indefinitely if properly frozen, but it will taste best if used within three months.

Watch: Triple Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake

When a recipe calls for buttermilk, defrost as many cubes as you need in a small bowl or jar in the refrigerator, or heated for ten seconds at a time on 'LOW' in the microwave. Once frozen, the buttermilk solids and whey will separate, so before you use the defrosted buttermilk, be sure to vigorously stir or shake it until the liquid comes together.

Before you break out the ice cube trays, buttermilk can be kept in the refrigerator longer than you might think. After you open the carton, it can be refrigerated up to three weeks if you keep the carton tightly closed. If you're unsure of whether it has gone 'off' or not, give it a whiff and make sure the texture is smooth, not lumpy.

As refrigerated buttermilk ages, it loses its signature tanginess, so while it has a long shelf life, for the most flavor, you should use it up sooner rather than later—or freeze it.

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