10 Sweet and Tangy Buttermilk Dessert Recipes

10 tart, creamy, and perfectly balanced buttermilk desserts.

Vicky Wasik

Buttermilk contributes a great deal of tenderness and flavor to some of our favorite savory recipes—like fried chicken, flaky biscuits, and creamy dressings—but its acidity and rich, thick texture also make it a wonderful addition to many desserts. Because buttermilk is so thick, you can use quite a lot of it without turning biscuits into pancakes, or creating a watery cake batter. We've rounded up 10 sweet recipes to prove your bottle of buttermilk is good for much more than just savory applications.

  • Buttermilk Cappuccino Cake

    Lauren Weisenthal

    This rich buttermilk espresso cake is a perfect way to use up any excess buttermilk you have on hand and please the coffee fanatics in your life at the same time. The buttermilk lends a subtle tang to balance out the sweetness, and soaking the layers in a coffee syrup helps keep the cake moist. The whole thing gets coated with an espresso-flavored Swiss buttercream frosting.

  • Apple Buttermilk Muffins

    Carrie Vasios Mullins

    Buttermilk is what gives these muffins their super moist and pillowy crumb, while the diced apples sprinkled throughout get a flavor assist from a hefty dose of cinnamon and nutmeg.

  • Gluten-Free Buttermilk Pound Cake

    Elizabeth Barbone

    The delicate flavor of this easy-to-make loaf makes it excellent as a light dessert that just happens to be gluten-free. It's especially good with berries mixed into the batter, if they're in season. A note of caution: Add the buttermilk in stages, to ensure that it emulsifies correctly.

  • Lemon Sunshine Cookies

    Carrie Vasios Mullins

    These buttery cookies double up on lemon flavor with zest in the batter and lemon juice in the glaze. The buttermilk lends a hand by keeping the cookies tender.

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  • Old-Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler

    Vicky Wasik

    Though it plays a supporting role, buttermilk is important to the success of this old-fashioned blackberry cobbler. The buttermilk helps produce super thick, dry biscuits that'll hold up well to the fruity filling, absorbing just enough juice to become moist and chewy.

  • Texas Sheet Cake

    Vicky Wasik

    Buttermilk contributes richness to this Texas sheet cake. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, it's doused in hot fudge and covered in crunchy pecans. The top of the cake soaks up the fudge, creating a gooey layer between the cake and the frosting.

  • Gingerbread Sheet Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

    Vicky Wasik

    It's thanks—at least in part—to buttermilk that this extremely quick and easy cake is tender and fluffy. Bold molasses flavor, along with spices such as cinnamon, black pepper, and ground ginger, make this cake seem far more complex and elaborate than it really is.

  • Buttermilk Ice Cream

    Vicky Wasik

    This ice cream puts buttermilk's tangy, light flavor front and center. The ice cream base offers the option of lightly toasting the sugar to contribute a caramel-like flavor, and a dash of orange blossom water for a floral note. The ice cream is wonderful on its own, and equally good with a generous helping of in-season fruits.

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  • Pistachio Cake

    Vicky Wasik

    This cake comes together in just a few moments, making it one of the easiest and fastest recipes there is. Roasted pistachio oil lends the cake its powerful flavor and aroma, while thick buttermilk provides structure and tanginess. Orange zest and orange flower water complement and boost the cake's nutty, sweet flavor.

  • Olive Oil Cake

    Vicky Wasik

    If you have to whip up dessert in a hurry, this is an ideal candidate. The entire cake comes together in less than an hour from start to finish, and it's light, fluffy, and aromatic. Buttermilk cuts through the rich flavor of olive oil, and provides the cake with structure.