Buttermilk Pudding

Old fashioned buttermilk pudding, deliciously tart, sweet, and creamy.

  • Prep time: 4 hours
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.


  • 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups of buttermilk
  • Jam or jelly to serve, optional


1 Mix the gelatin with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and set aside.

2 Put the cream, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds and pod (or vanilla extract if using) into a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved remove from heat and add the gelatin to the warm cream mixture. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved.

3 Once the cream has cooled to room temperature, add the buttermilk and stir. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to catch any bits of undissolved gelatin.

4 Pour the mixture into ramekins, about 1/2 cup per ramekin (the pudding is very rich). Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and chill to set for at least four hours. Serve with your favorite jam, jelly, marmalade, fruit, or straight up.

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  • Tara

    I made this pudding using the buttermilk substitute by doing the milk+vinegar thing, and it worked out well! It tasted really great.

  • Julie

    I’m with your dad in liking buttermilk. I can drink it straight out of the carton, and I do, because I’m the only one in my house who likes it!!! This pudding sounds wonderful. I’d like to call it “Panna cotta for the common gal” Thanks for sharing the recipe. I’m late in discovering it, but have just lately been going through your archives.

  • cybersal

    I love buttermilk. This recipe reminds me of buttermilk ice cream except for egg yokes instead of the gelatin.
    I wouldn’t look down my nose at anyone drinking buttermilk any more than someone using sour cream.
    I plan on making your pudding in a couple of days as soon as the Thanksgiving desserts are used up. Thanks for posting, it sounds really good.

  • Tina

    Yum! I made this for my mother and she loved it — and so did I. Since I’m trying to cut back on the amount of sugar in my diet, I’ve tried a few modifications. Cutting the sugar to 1/8 cup and adding 2 tiny scoops of Stevia Extract* makes the pudding sweet enough for me, especially with some fresh fruit on top.

    * Trader Joe’s Organic 100% Pure Stevia Extract (where one bottle is 1 oz and has 622 servings in it!)

  • Crystal

    I drink buttermilk! Must be my gypsy blood, my Nana used to always give it to me.

  • Brian Harte

    I love butter made from buttermilk and use buttermilk in my soda bread. I am sooooo going to try this receipe this weekend!

  • Mindy

    So, pudding has been made and is now firming up in the fridge. I’m making a blackberry lemon compote to serve with it. We’ll see how it goes!

  • Misah

    Will adding more gelatin to make it firmer change the flavor at all?

    No. ~Garrett

  • Liana

    This is extraordinary. I used 1/4 cup agave nectar instead of the sugar, and reduced the cream by 1/4 cup. I’m so happy to have this in my life now. Thank you for posting the recipe!

  • Felinity

    This pudding is great – it’s my top crave this summer. Greetings from Poland – where buttermilk is really popular for drinking straight up or mixed with fruit. I personally love it with strawberries and I topped this pudding with them.

    I also blogged this recipe in Polish, only changing the way I deal with gelatin and it amount (+ half a teaspoonful) – I put it in freshly boiled water (50 ml) and whisk vigorously, then I add cream and sugar and heat the mixture delicately, without boiling, as it would ruin the gelatin.

  • Lianne

    Would one be able to use artificial sweetener instead of sugar in this recipe?

    I suppose. I encourage you to give it a try and let us know your results in the comments. =) ~Garrett

  • Katie

    This was delicious, thanks for the recipe. The tartness of this reminds me of some indian desserts. It was good to make it according to this simple recipe the first time around, but I think it would be yummy to put in some chopped pistachios and cardamom next time. Also I think it would be interesting to modify this to make buttermilk chocolate pudding. And it will be a great thing to have on hand in the summer to serve with berries.

  • Argus

    This sounds like pannacotta a tad healthier! Can imagine how deliciously smooth it is. Leftover buttermilk can be enjoyed by puree-ing your favourite (frozen) berries and a teaspoon of powdered sugar into it – a yumsome health drink if ever I tried one!

  • Jerry

    Late comment, but..

    This is delicious. Made it up for dinner tonight and managed to finish the whole batch between three people. This one is a keeper.

  • jackie gaston

    You can order culture from New England Cheesemaking and make your own buttermilk. It is much better than store bought.

  • foodcentric momma

    I tried this with 1/8 cup cocoa powder to make it chocolate. It was really good. I also used half & half instead of cream.

    Nifty idea, did it drown out the buttermilk flavor or was it still there? I may try this myself. =) ~Garrett

  • kelschman

    Cant wait to try this pudding recipe. Below is the only recipe I have using buttermilk. Serve over ice cream, waffles, or pancakes:

    Buttermilk Syrup

    1/2 cup sugar
    3/4 cup buttermilk
    1 stick butter
    2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
    1 tsp. baking soda

    Bring to a boil and boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla.

  • Anna G

    I am Russian so drinking buttermilk doesnt seem strange to me at all. I made this using American Buttermilk and it turned out very well. It tasted exactly how I expected though. I would like to try this recipe with fruit flavored buttermilk, but I am wondering if I should then omit the vanilla? And is buttermilk the same as Kefir?

    Buttermilk is a byproduct of the butter making process. Kefir is fermented milk using keifr grains. As for the fruit and vanilla, it’s up to you and what you like. ~Garrett

  • foodcentric momma

    This pudding was absolutely lovely. The first time I made it I had half & half so I used that instead of cream. I also wanted to use it up so the ratio to buttermilk was closer to 1 to 1. It was really good & drinking buttermilk straight literally makes me gag (I tried it once).

  • CourtneyLeigh

    This brings to mind a simple, lightly sweet, and satisfying dessert I enjoyed at a small restaurant in Bethel, Ohio – Buttermilk Pie. I have often wondered about the recipe.

    This pudding would make a great pie filling add a few eggs and some butter! hmmm maybe a dash of nutmeg on the surface, poured into a home made pie crust.

  • Deborah Cantrell

    I love the tangy taste of buttermilk in recipes, but never thought of it in a pudding. Creamy desserts are my favorite and this was no exception. So easy to make, turned out perfect. Served it with all-fruit jam, but plan to make it this weekend for my work friends and will try raspberries or balsamic strawberries as suggested.
    Will be making this many times as an easy, yet elegant dessert. Thanks!

  • Sandi

    Hi there,

    Not drink buttermilk??? Ohhhh sooo good ! Love it, love it, big ole glass all by itself..or with a nice chunk of homemade cornbread….Now there’s a winner!!…I’m looking forward to trying this Buttermilk Pudding…!!
    Thanks for the recipe !

  • TexanNewYorker

    I, too, love buttermilk! I very rarely drink it straight from the glass (like my grandparents are fond of doing), but I almost always have it on hand — I’m from Texas and am the kind of cornbread snob who believes it isn’t cornbread if it doesn’t have buttermilk in it(or if it does have sugar! or flour! strictly forbidden!). I’ve also blended it into milk shakes, as inspired by this recipe on 101 Cookbooks: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000147.html

    And of course it’s great in pancakes, biscuits, homemade ranch dressing, and the batter for fried chicken.

  • Pille

    I drink both buttermilk as well as kefir happily (the only fermented milk I’m not too keen is ‘sour milk’). We make a very similar pudding, using kefir milk and jam – I might just blog about it now, too (thought it to be too ‘humble’ for my international readers). :)

  • Karen

    The Hominy Grill restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, serves a lemony buttermilk pie, “white cornmeal” cornbread, and “Mile High Biscuits”, all containing buttermilk. The recipes for these Low Country treats are included in their cookbook, “Hominy Grill Recipes.”

  • Laurel

    In Denmark it’s called kærnemælk and is drunk straight from the glass.
    I can’t wait to make this- it sounds so good!

  • puuseppä

    We live in Finland, and we’re not big fans of piimä (Finnish for buttermilk) as a drink, but this was delicious. It was a perfect thing for dessert on a summer night.

  • Ashley S.

    This recipe was delicious. We have a milk cow and make our own butter, so I used some of our fresh buttermilk. Not sure if this changed the taste; it was probably not quite as tangy as it would have been with store-bought.

    I topped it with sweetened balsamic strawberries which added a nice tartness to the creaminess of the pudding. I’m sure that I’ll be making it again.

  • the paintress

    I LOVE buttermilk too – and drink it in a big glass with, get this, salt and loads of fresh ground pepper. Was my grandpas treat. I know this turns some peoples stomachs, but it’s one of my favorite things in the universe.

    I’ll try this pudding / pannacotta with pepper and fresh herbs. Savory could be really interesting. Great for brunch! Any ideas?

    Could also be great with lemon rind, or with essence of lemon grass and top with spicy mango chutney sauce. Yum!

    You’ve inspired me.

  • Anna

    Mmmm, I made this recipe the other day, but I didn’t use buttermilk. I used raw milk that had soured a bit too much for drinking (raw milk that has cultured on it’s own is still edible, just not “naturally” sweet anymore because the probiotic lactobacillus have consumed the lactose and changed the flavor, unlike pasteurized milk, which actually spoils [putrifies] as it ages). I added the milk after heating the cream so as to not kill off the good bacteria in the milk. The pudding was very good, and my 10 yo son enjoyed it very much with sliced bananas on top for an after school snack and again for breakfast.

  • Tammy

    Well, I will definitely have to go get some buttermilk to try this recipe. I remember growing up, my mother loved to drink buttermilk with a little salt & pepper mixed in. I used to look at her in grossed-out-awe! But through the years I have come to appreciate the taste of buttermilk and every once in a while I’ll buy a quart, put some salt & pepper in it and toast the memory my mother. Now I know what to do with the rest of it, thank you!

  • Lisa

    Good to see so many of my NC brethren posting about the buttermilk cornbread! My mother and grandmother would never have made it any other way and sweet cornbread would have made them positively LIVID! LOL!!

  • Doone

    I made the recipe with kefir, which I make at home. Delicious, if I do say. I got a little separation, though, with a clear gel on the bottom. I think I hurried the recipe and didn’t let it cool to room temp before adding the kefir and refrigerating. Suggestions?

    Don’t use kefir and let it cool. ~Garrett

  • Tartelette-Helen

    I am one of those drinking buttermilk straight from a glass. It reminds of Kefir that my dad used to bring back from the market. I still make “Lait Frappe” (“frapay”) with it and a handful of strawberries, spoonful of sugar and a whirl in the blender like he used to.

    I am assuming given the ratio of gelatin to liquid that it is softer than panna cotta right? I think I am even liking this ratio/recipe a bit better!

    Thanks Garrett and Elise!

    So very glad an accomplished pastry chef as yourself approves! Yes, it is softer than panna cotta, though the basic recipe could be adapted to be one. ~Garrett

  • Katrina

    I’m so excited by this recipe! I use gazillions of quarts of buttermilk for scones and muffins, so it’s always around….but pudding? Oh, I love pudding! This, I have to try!.

    Thank you soooo much.

  • Maria

    Buttermilk is so wonderful, I try to sneak it into everything I can. Always make cakes with it and like the poster from NC, buttermilk or sour milk cornbread is usually in order a few times a week. My mother was always telling me to drink a glass, but that I don’t have any interest in!

  • Teresa

    This sounds amazing, and I’m looking forward to trying it. Buttermilk pie has always been one of my favorites.

    Buttermilk pancakes are the best. I have an applesauce spice pancake recipe that uses buttermilk, and it tastes so good we don’t even use syrup.

    I can’t imagine making cornbread without buttermilk either. Here’s a recipe my family has used for years:

    1c. cornmeal
    1/2 c. flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    3 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 c. melted shortening
    1 egg
    1 c. buttermilk
    1/2 c. milk

    Thoroughly grease a cast-iron skillet and let it heat in the oven as it preheats to 450F. Beat the egg till it’s light. Add the baking powder and soda to the beaten egg. Stir, then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Add both milks and stir. Finally add the melted shortening. Pull the heated pan from the oven and pour in the batter. (The pan should not be more than 3/4 full.) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Espahan

    This looks like a pudding my much loved step-father from Norway used to make. Definately comfort food. I love buttermilk myself, but not all buttermilk is equal. It all depends on the maker. Some buttermilk is too tart for my taste. We happen to be lucky enough to have dairy that makes really good buttermilk, very creamy and with only a small bite to it.

  • m

    Would I be able to lighten this up with substituting half of the heavy whipping cream with whole milk? What if I substituted all the cream with whole milk?

    Or would this ruin the consistency?

    I would suggest to sticking to cream. However, I am sure whole milk or half&half could be used, but it won’t be nearly as rich or creamy. ~Garrett

  • Megan

    This looks so good, and I happen to have some buttermilk left over from pancakes. One question, though – if I have cornstarch, but not gelatin, can this be substituted? Any recommendations for how to modify the recipe (since cornstarch thickens with heat)?


    Cornstarch would probably give you a looser, more liquid-state pudding. This is conjecture on my part though as I have never used it for this recipe. ~Garrett

  • Allyson

    I chuckled as I read Garrett’s thoughts on buttermilk. It’s not my favorite either by itself, but living and growing up in the south I know several folks who love buttermilk straight out of the glass. My mom sure does. It’s also a wonderful “first string” ingredient when making biscuits, pancakes, waffles, REAL cornbread, and for soaking chicken prior to frying. This pudding sounds intriguing. I may try it this weekend.

  • Brian

    My wife grew up on fritos and buttermilk….eaten in a bowl like cereal :) We are, obviously, from the south. I will surprise her with this over the weekend :) Thank you.

  • Allegra

    I was going to second that earlier post about the NY Time Magazine article — it was so great and really made me want to explore buttermilk as an ingredient in recipes beyond pancakes and meatballs. This looks divine!

    This book, Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages by Anne Mendelson is great read you might find interesting. Good history, not too academic, and has a ton of great recipes. ~Garrett

  • Jennifer

    I can’t wait to try this — my family loves my buttermilk pie and I have a good feeling that this will be a hit. (Buttermilk pie is a tangy, custardy pie that is kind of like a cross between chess pie and panna cotta…delicious!)

    Never heard of buttermilk pie! Sounds tasty! ~Garrett

  • Beatriz

    The recipe sounds delicious but I have a small problem. I live in Portugal and we don’t have buttermilk available around here.. it’s never really been a part of our eating tradition, I guess. Is there anyway for me to substitute it?

    Well, the usual buttermilk substitute here is to add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk and then let it stand for 5-10 minutes. Whether that will work here since buttermilk is the main ingredient is something else but I think it should work out just fine. Give it a shot and let us know. ~Garrett

  • Jena

    I had a friend tell me a few weeks ago that she used to drink fresh buttermilk when she was a kid, straight from their farm, and she refuses to buy the store-bought stuff because she says it’s not supposed to be so sour. Anyone have any insight into this?

    My experience with buttermilk has always been using the store-bought stuff in my grandma’s sugar cookie & pancake recipes, and I know the cookie recipe used to call for sour milk instead of buttermilk; it was a change Grandma made to her mom’s recipe.

    And seeing how I love my grandma’s buttermilk-utilizing recipes, you know I’m going to have to try this pudding…

  • Robin

    My son’s great-grandmother used to make buttermilk pie, which was basically this recipe in a pie shell. It was always served with fresh berries. Absolutely delicious!

  • Kiran

    The traditional butter we use in India, is mostly used for savoury dishes or drunk with some salt and cumin powder. So this makes a great sweet dish to try out, thanks for the idea. I also like the idea of making the ‘Buttermilk velvet’ that is so cool, two recipes for using buttermilk for sweets. ;)

  • Delores

    My mom drinks buttermilk by the glass. I never like the taste of it. All my older cousins would pour a glass and dip fried chicken in it. Uh..gross! I just never acquired the taste for buttermilk, but I use it in recipes all the time and absolutely love buttermilk corn meal (from scratch, of course). This recipe sounds wonderful and I will make it soon.

  • Jess

    Hi, Garrett and Elise
    I love the idea of a recipe that features buttermilk in all her tangy glory! Thank you. And speaking of all things buttermilk, did you see this New York Times article from a few weeks back? “Got Buttermilk?”

    Hi Jess, Elise here. Hadn’t seen that article, but like it! Thanks for passing it along. Have added it to the links section under the recipe. ~Elise

  • Andrea

    I think you’ve just given me a fabulous way to use buttermilk left over from making pancakes. Great picture– the recipe sounds like a real winner! Can’t wait to try it.

  • Lynn

    I would love to have the recipe for the corn bread using buttermilk!

    I think Elise and I will have to investigate that recipe, Lynn. ~Garrett

  • ennbee

    I LOVE buttermilk and think it should ALWAYS be the bride. All the other kinds of milk should be the bridesmaids. :)

    When I was a little girl, my dad introduced me to it and back then, we used to sprinkle salt and pepper in it – just to gross the rest of you out even more.

    YUM, YUM! :)

    Sounds like this is your kind of pudding for sure then. ~Garrett

  • Margaret

    This sounds extra scrumptious, I think I will have to bookmark this place and come back when I have the same problem with extra buttermilk. What I have in the fridge now, awaiting execution, is half a small carton of heavy cream, any ideas for that? It always form a solid layer on top before I finish the carton, but I figure using the still-liquid part underneath is ok. I’m not killing myself, right?

    Um, I would check the expiration date. My test for milk and cream is the sniff-n-sip test – that’ll tell ya’. As for what to do with it? If it is good, make whipped cream and throw it over some fruit. Or buy some buttermilk for pudding. ;) Elise has some great recipes on this site that can use up the rest of your buttermilk easily! ~Garrett

  • Digigirl

    What a really interesting recipe! I’ve got some buttermilk languishing in the fridge right now. I’m thinking some yummy pudding is in order! This sounds like it would be delicious with some fresh berries.

    Berries would be awesome! We used some of Elise’s homemade marmalade which was out-of-this-world good. ~Garrett

  • Lisa

    I grew up eating my cornbread crumbled into a glass of buttermilk. Never would have imagined using it for a pudding, but this one looks YUM! Will have to give it a try. :)

  • fermat

    Or there’s the lazy guy’s way….lol. Makes vanilla pudding taste like cheesecake. If you use cheesecake pudding mix it’s even more so. Top it with gingersnap cookie crumbs, cherry pie filling, chocolate sauce or other favorite cheesecake topping.


    1 (8 oz) carton frozen, light, whipped topping, thawed

    1 cup buttermilk

    1 (1 oz) pkg instant, fat-free, sugar-free, vanilla pudding mix

    Combine the whipped topping and the buttermilk and stir in the instant pudding mix. Spoon into individual dishes, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Yield: 8 Servings.

    Per Serving: 86 Cal; 3 g Total Fat (3 g Sat Fat); 10 g Carb; 1 mg Cholesterol; 178 mg Sodium ; 1 g Protein; 5 g Sugars. Exchanges: 1 Starch; 1/2 Fat.

    Tip: It is best to mix with a whisk or spoon, not a mixer. Easily doubles or halves and is freezable.

    Berry Special: Thaw & drain frozen fruit, or use fresh fruit. Use one package/pint per 8 Servings. Serve chilled.

    Hmm, I think I would use freshly whipped cream or maybe some egg yolks cooked into a custard. Not a fan of whipped topping, but this sounds really neat! ~Garrett

  • TexasDeb

    I’ve never seen this before either but better late than never. I agree it seems a great way to use up buttermilk after baking, and as a accompaniment to berries, it sounds very luxe! Thanks for sharing.

  • Katharine

    Also good as a pannacotta with fresh berries or coulis on top. Yum!

  • Kalyn

    I could drink buttermilk every day and not get tired of it, so I love this idea. Never heard of buttermilk pudding before!

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    While I’m not someone who drinks buttermilk, I do like it, and often wonder what to do with the rest of the quart after I’ve used one cup for baking. The idea of buttermilk pudding is completely new to me, but I’m bookmarking to try this the next time I have extra buttermilk on hand.

  • Regnald J

    Garrett & Elise,
    This pudding looks fabulous. I like the drinking buttermilk out of the glass comment. I’m originally from Alabma where a know a number of people that do the same (they’re all a little older). I just assumed it was a Southern thing. ;)

    I first tried this recipe in Kansas City, Missouri when my grandmother made it. However, from what I understand this is a popular sort of dessert in parts of Africa, the Middle East, Russia (assuming from some commentors) and the Southern United States. ~Garrett

  • Cindy

    I LOVE buttermilk. I am not ashamed to say that I buy it to drink it out of a glass. That initial little bite it gives you when you first sip it is incredibly appealing to me. Also, I live in North Carolina, so, I don’t make corn bread out of a box mix. That is not corn bread. That is for corn MUFFINS and for people too lazy to make the real thing. So, when I put some buttermilk with a chunk of hot-out-of-the-oven corn bread, it is a meal within itself. (Elise’s father would love this too) So, don’t knock buttermilk if you’ve never tried it straight. There are worse things. It’s just what you are exposed to early in life and the tastes you acquire early on.
    I will be trying out this recipe for buttermilk pudding. Sounds wonderful !!!

  • Kay Shumway

    Buttermilk pudding is not a very appealing name for this elegant cream. We call it Russian cream. I make it with heavy cream and sour cream or yogurt. We serve it with fresh raspberries, blueberries or rhubarb sauce. We also make it in a large souffle dish and scoop out a serving when it has set. Covered, it will last for a week in the refrigerator. Our guests always ask for the recipe. I am often embarrassed to give it out as it is so rich and people are worried about calories and cholesterol. It’s always a winner however.

    Love that name! Also, the idea of a rhubarb sauce for this? Wow, I am all over that. ~Garrett