Buttermilk Cheese

A one ingredient cheese made in the oven? The magic is good old fashioned buttermilk! This is a useful recipe if you happen to have leftover buttermilk from making pancakes, waffles or biscuits. 

It's curious that cultured buttermilk used to be a home staple but somehow has fallen out of favor in Western countries. But as recent as the 1960's, Americans were still drinking glassfuls of the tangy elixir. Before kefir and widespread yogurt sales in the U.S., buttermilk was used to help us digest. Add it to your diet and grown the bacterial diversity in your tum tum (see notes at the bottom to make your own endless supply),

While you can use cultured buttermilk as a probiotic tonic and a mesophilic starter in cheesemaking, you can also just make a fresh cheese out of store-bought or homemade cultured buttermilk itself. Important note, I am talking about thick cultured milk called buttermilk, not the clear buttermilk you get when you make butter. You can find great uses for that original buttermilk in my whey book though, Cooking with Whey

I use cultured buttermilk as a starter in my book Instant Pot Cheese and as I researched recipes I ran across this simple recipe for a cheese called Tvarog. It it popular in Germany and in Jewish cooking. The process calls for baking buttermilk for a unique creamy, thick, low fat and high protein cheese. The baking process was intriguingly different so I had to try it! So easy and delicious.

Tvarog buttermilk cheese served with baby radishes

Buttermilk Cheese Recipe (Tvarog)

Source: “MealLeaniYUMM!” by Norene Gilletz


  • 2 liters or quarts of cultured buttermilk, avoid non-fat
    - the thick cultured kind, not the clear buttermilk from making butter


  • Oven proof casserole dish
  • Fine mesh cheesecloth (included in our cheese kits)
  • Colander
  • Large Bowl


  •  Approximately 6 cups of cheese!



Place all of the buttermilk in a large covered ovenproof casserole dish (I use a Corning Ware casserole dish.)


Place in a preheated 375ºF oven for 15 to 20 minutes. It will separate into curds and whey as it heats!


Pour everything into a cheesecloth-lined colander. You can place a bowl underneath to catch the whey if you'd like. Use as a base for soup, smoothies or to replace sour milk or buttermilk in baking. Many more uses in my book, Cooking with Whey. 

 STEP 4.

Tie the ends of the cheesecloth and hang it from a cabinet handle if possible. Let the cheese drain for at least 2 hours. 

NOTE: For a firmer cheese, squeeze out most of the liquid. Wrap well and refrigerate. It will keep about a week. 

The cheese is super creamy and tangy, kind of like a mix between cream cheese and sour cream but ever so slightly crumbly. It's great as a filling, both sweet and savory. I have also made cheesecake out of it as the yield is great.


Interestingly, it has been a trend in the dieting world as it's high in protein but low in fat.

Drinking cultured buttermilk for more bacterial diversity in your gut is a great idea so try adding it to your variety of fermented foods. Simple smoothies are easy (strawberry and banana!).

Make yourself endless buttermilk for the next batch by adding 1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk to one quart cow's milk. Allow the milk to culture at room temperature for at least 24 hours (longer in chilly weather). When it thickens and smells tangy, it's ready. Repeat as necessary. You can freeze a small amount until you are ready to make another batch. I freeze ice cubes of buttermilk for this use.   

Tvarog Buttermilk cheese served with radishes

Storage Guidelines

  • Cover and store in the refrigerator
  • Use within 1 week
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