It Started on the Streets: Buttermilk

Look. Did you see it? No. Look again, its definitely there. Somewhere in your favorite street food market there is a stand selling something with buttermilk. Buttermilk ? Yes, buttermilk. The residue that is left after butter has churned has become the new hot ingredient for food trucks everywhere.


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The amount of searches for the term has been steadily rising according to Google Trends, and more and more dishes using the slightly acidic white liquid have been appearing recently.

A traditional part of the Southern Fried Chicken recipe, the name comes from the fact it was once the favourite drink of the American South (luckily, it would devolve into an ingredient before it could be bottled and exported to the rest of us).

It is “the only way to combine the acidity of the milk with the tenderness of the chicken” according to chef Ross from Chicken Kings at Spit and Roast. Their “Adam Richman”-inspired truck has built up a loyal following during the time they’ve been operating, and they are currently in the midst of a residency at the Dalston Superstore.

Neil, owner of the St. John’s Pantry chain of cafes, says: “If somebody drew a graph charting the amount of times buttermilk has been used in London, than I’m sure you will have found it shooting up in the last few months.”

And it’s not only chicken: Belgian waffle hawkers Waffle On from the Maltby Street Market have been using butter residue for all of their waffles since they opened.

But will Britain’s cholesterol-filled arteries survive another American import? Well it is actually supposed to be better for you than milk. One cup of butter milk has 99 calories and 2.2 grams of fat while a cup of whole milk has 157 calories and 8.9 grams of fat. points out that it is absolutely chock-full of vitamins and minerals such as B12 and potassium.

Of course this doesn’t automatically make it good for you. The average breast still has 423 calories using buttermilk instead of traditional batter. Website says buttermilk waffles have 190 calories even before copious amounts of cream are added.

This hasn’t stopped British chefs from using buttermilk in dishes. Yotam Ottolenghi  recently included the American ingredient in one of his recipes for the Guardian and  Felicity Cloak’s buttermilk pancakes and compote were suggested as the “perfect start” to the newspaper’s Open Weekend last year.

Of course, liberal newspaper chefs and street food vendors are not the only ones using this gooey white ingredient but they are definitely the ones who will be driving it forward in the next year. As Neil, also a former Marks and Spencer executive, said: “buttermilk is hot right now”.

What about you? Do you think buttermilk is the next big thing? Or have you heard about it before? Let us know in the comments below.

A Southern Fried Buttermilk Zeitgeist 

Welcome Back Buttermilk:

 What is Buttermilk?:

 Buttermilk Recipes:

Ottolenghi’s strained ricotta with bananna fritters” 

Buttermilk Gets Its Due