Heavy Cream vs. Buttermilk: What's the Difference?
Heavy cream is a thick, high-fat cream, while buttermilk is the tangy liquid left after churning butter.
Heavy cream, often just referred to as cream, is a dairy product that has a high-fat content, typically ranging from 36% to 40%. Buttermilk, on the other hand, originally referred to the liquid left after churning butter, which had a slightly sour taste.
In its production, heavy cream is obtained from the high-fat part of fresh milk. It is rich and can be whipped to create whipped cream. Buttermilk today, especially in commercial production, is often cultured milk, meaning it's created by adding lactic acid bacteria to low-fat milk or skim milk.
From a culinary perspective, heavy cream is often used in desserts, sauces, and soups due to its rich texture and flavor. Buttermilk is prized for its tangy flavor, and it's frequently used in baked goods, pancakes, and dressings.
When it comes to consistency, heavy cream is, as the name suggests, heavy and thick. Buttermilk has a thinner consistency, similar to that of regular milk but with a tangy flavor profile.
Nutritionally, heavy cream is calorically dense due to its high fat content. Buttermilk, while lower in fat since it's derived from the butter-churning process or made from low-fat milk, has a unique tanginess due to its acidic nature.
High-fat part of fresh milk
Liquid from butter-churning or cultured milk
Thick and rich
Thinner, similar to milk
Primary Use in Cooking
Desserts, sauces, soups
Baked goods, pancakes, dressings
Heavy Cream and Buttermilk Definitions
The thickest form of fresh milk with a fat content between 36% to 40%.
For the dessert, she whipped the heavy cream until soft peaks formed.
A tangy milk product produced by fermenting low-fat milk with lactic acid bacteria.
These days, most buttermilk in stores is cultured buttermilk.
An essential ingredient for making whipped cream.
You need cold heavy cream to achieve the perfect whipped texture.
The liquid leftover after churning butter from cream.
Originally, buttermilk was the byproduct of the butter-making process.
A dairy product derived from the high-fat portion of milk.
She used heavy cream to make a rich and creamy sauce.
Sometimes used as a meat tenderizer because of its mild acidity.
Marinating chicken in buttermilk makes it tender and flavorful.
A cream variant that doesn't curdle under high temperatures.
She added heavy cream to the simmering soup for a velvety finish.
Often used in baking due to its acidic content that reacts with baking soda to help baked goods rise.
The buttermilk made the pancakes incredibly fluffy.
A dairy product often used to enrich and thicken sauces and soups.
To give the pasta a luxurious touch, she stirred in some heavy cream.
A thinner dairy liquid with a tangy flavor profile.
She drank buttermilk for its unique tangy taste.
The liquid, usually either naturally soured or cultured with acid-producing bacteria, that remains after the butterfat has been removed from cream by churning.
A sour milk made by culturing usually skim milk with acid-producing bacteria.
The liquid left over after producing butter from full cream milk by the churning process, also called traditional buttermilk.
Cultured buttermilk, a fermented dairy product produced from cow's milk, with a characteristically sour taste.
The milk that remains after the butter is separated from the cream.
Residue from making butter from sour raw milk; or pasteurized milk curdled by adding a culture
Can I substitute heavy cream for buttermilk in recipes?
Not directly, as heavy cream is fatty and buttermilk is tangy. The end result may differ in texture and taste.
What's the fat content in heavy cream?
Heavy cream typically contains between 36% to 40% fat.
Why is buttermilk used in baking?
Its acidity reacts with baking soda or powder, helping baked goods rise and giving them a tender crumb.
Can I make whipped cream from buttermilk?
No, whipped cream requires the fat content of heavy cream to achieve its texture.
How is commercial buttermilk different from traditional buttermilk?
Commercial buttermilk is often cultured by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk, whereas traditional buttermilk is the leftover from churning butter.
Is buttermilk the same as milk?
No, buttermilk has a tangier taste and is often thinner or cultured with lactic acid bacteria.
Why is heavy cream used in sauces?
It provides a rich and creamy texture to sauces.
Can I make my own heavy cream at home?
While you can't "make" heavy cream, you can separate the cream from whole milk by letting it sit and skimming off the cream.
Is buttermilk healthier than heavy cream?
Buttermilk is lower in fat, but "healthier" depends on dietary needs.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.