With pea milk’s rise as a protein-rich milk alternative and buttermilk’s heritage as a culinary staple, this milk comparison article is all about timeless vs modern. While pea milk’s origins are quite straightforward, buttermilk isn’t actually made out of butter, but rather fermented milk. It’s traditionally made by collecting the leftover liquid from churning butter out of cultured cream, but in the modern day, it’s made by adding a probiotic (culture) to pasteurized/homogenized milk, fortified with vitamin D.
So, what else can these milks bring to the kitchen? Will they harmonize in your favorite recipes or will their unique personalities clash? Let’s take a 360-degree look at their nutritional benefits and culinary uses, so you can see which milk suits your goals best!
Comparing pea milk vs buttermilk
Pea milk is a little more versatile when it comes to accommodating specific dietary needs. It’s a vegan-friendly option that also aligns with the keto diet, but isn’t paleo because of its legume origins. Buttermilk, on the other hand, doesn’t fit in the paleo, vegan, or keto circles, no thanks to its dairy base and carb content.
What’s more, pea milk is also an allergen-friendly milk, whereas buttermilk can pose challenges for those dealing with milk allergies.
Differences between pea milk and buttermilk
While they both have the word “milk” in their name, their sources couldn’t make them any more different. Pea milk brings forth the power of yellow peas to provide a plant-based protein punch (often due to the addition of a pea protein blend), while buttermilk carries the legacy of cultured dairy.
Pea milk adds a neutral touch to dishes in terms of flavor and consistency, while buttermilk’s acidity is great for tenderizing and leavening. The bacteria buttermilk contains also makes it sour and thicker than regular milk. Just like other non-dairy milks like almond and soy, pea milk also comes in sweetened, unsweetened, and flavored varieties.
How to use pea milk vs buttermilk
- Blend with fruit and veg to make a protein-packed smoothie.
- Froth and steam to make smooth lattes.
- Cook oatmeal with pea milk.
- Pour over cereal.
- Whip up dairy-free puddings and custards.
- Enhance the texture of savory dishes like soups and creamy pasta.
- Make pancakes and waffles with extra rise and a light and airy texture.
- Marinate meats in buttermilk for tenderness and tanginess.
- Create flaky and tender buttermilk biscuits.
- Incorporate into (cake) batters.
- Craft creamy salad dressings and marinades.
- Mix creamy dips and sauces.
Can you substitute pea milk for buttermilk?
You can often replace buttermilk with pea milk by adding a bit of acidity, like lemon juice or vinegar, to replicate the tangy flavor. But because buttermilk’s distinct tanginess might not be perfectly replicated with pea milk, the texture and taste of the final product will likely be slightly different. For recipes where the qualities of buttermilk is key, pea milk will probably not deliver the same flavor profile.
Nutrition: Pea milk vs buttermilk
Pea milk has a few major advantages over buttermilk in the nutrition realm if we compare by cup. It’s much lower in calories (80 vs 120), much lower in carbohydrates (1g vs 15g), total sugars (0g vs 11g), as well as a higher calcium (30% DV vs 25% DV) and vitamin D content (25% DV vs 10% DV).
But let’s not forget the pros of buttermilk (specifically the lowfat/1% version) either. This type of buttermilk is relatively low in fat (2.5g), and is packed with 10g of protein per cup, which is even more than classic cow’s milk. It’s also very high in riboflavin and vitamin B12 and may have potential probiotic benefits.
Note that some brands like Ripple add sunflower oil and added nutrients like algal oil and vitamin B12 to pea milk.
|Per 1 cup (237 ml/8 oz.)||Calories||Total fat (sat. fat)||Total carbs||Total sugars (incl. added)||Protein||Calcium||Vit D|
|Pea milk||80||4.5 g (0.5 g)||1 g||0 g||8 g||30% DV||25% DV|
|Buttermilk (lowfat/1%)||120||2.5 g (2 g)||15 g||11 g (0 g)||10 g||25% DV||10% DV|
How to store pea milk and buttermilk
Most cartons of pea milk are shelf-stable if unopened but need to be refrigerated right after opening. When stored correctly, it’ll last around 7 to 10 days of opening, but it’s not unusual for pea milk to stay fresh past the 10-day mark. Buttermilk is best stored either in the fridge or in the freezer (either in ice trays or freezer-safe storage containers), and will last up to 7 – 14 days past expiration in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer. Since buttermilk is a cultured product, it can last much longer than traditional cow’s milk.
Pea milk vs buttermilk: Which is better?
The real question to answer here is, which is better for what? Pea milk is better for blending into smoothies, pouring over cereals, or replacing dairy milk in baking recipes. Buttermilk thrives in baking – fluffy pancakes, tender biscuits, and moist cakes – and is fantastic for marinating meats and creating tangy dressings. Since pea milk and buttermilk are worlds apart, it’s best to choose based on their unique flavors, textures, and of course, depending on what you’re making.
As buttermilk is a type of cultured dairy, the most similar product won’t be another type of milk. Other cultured dairy products like sour cream or yogurt (plain and unflavored) will come closest to capturing the tangy essence of buttermilk.
Surprisingly, it’s relatively easy to create a dairy-free substitute for buttermilk. Simply mix a non-dairy milk (like soy or oat milk) with a bit of acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar. The acid will help mimic the tanginess – all you have to do is let the mixture sit for a few minutes to curdle. Ideally, choose a thicker plant-based milk to mimic the thickness of buttermilk.
Pea milk is a plant-based mixture that’s made by blending soaked yellow peas with water, creating a creamy base that’s often fortified with a pea protein blend, vitamins, and minerals to mimic the nutritional content of traditional cow’s milk. Things like a touch of sunflower oil and a pinch of salt are often added to round out the flavor.