How to Make Homemade Butter

How gorgeous is that?! And, yes, it tastes as good as it looks! Homemade butter tastes so much better than store-bought, so we took advantage of a good deal on some high quality cream and whipped up some butter. What I used is cream (the only ingredient) from a local dairy that uses no antibiotics, hormones or GMO feed (the cows are mostly grass-fed). It’s pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) and non-homogenized, so it’s really the best thing you can find short of raw cream! True, this quality of cream can be difficult to find, so don’t feel like you can’t make butter out of whatever you have. This 2-quart (1/2 gallon) of cream was less than $10 dollars and I got 1 quart of buttermilk, which I’ll culture, and 2 pounds of butter!

What You’ll Need

  • Cream: Make sure that there are no additives. The ingredients list should just say cream (it might say “milk”, too), no extras. You probably won’t be able to get everything you want, but one thing that can ruin a batch of butter is ultra-pasteurized cream. I’ve made butter from it, but often it’s just too “cooked” to work. Try to find raw, low-temp pasteurized or pasteurized instead of ultra-pasteurized. It would be a huge bonus if it’s organic and from grass-fed cows, but just do the best you can. 🙂
  • Mixer, blender or food processor: I used this stand mixer, but a blender or food processor work fine, too. Just make sure your food processor is air-tight. If it’s not, you’ll spray cream all over yourself and the kitchen… I assure you that this is not a good way to make butter. Ask me how I know. 😉 Also make sure that you don’t fill whatever you use more than 2/3 of the way full. The cream will expand quite a bit and you don’t want it overflowing. By the way, you really can make butter in a jar or butter churn, but it takes quite awhile and the jar method is exhausting.
  • Ice water in a large bowl: You’ll need to “wash” the butter, so have icy cold water ready before you start.
  • Celtic Sea Salt: You don’t have to salt your butter, but it will keep longer if you do. I like to add just a few pinched of Celtic Sea Salt for flavor, anyway, and salt is good for us!

What To Do

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, I’m going to babble at you! It’s so much easier to show you than to try to explain, so…

Begin whisking the cream on medium speed, increasing speed a bit as cream thickens.
Cream expands and thickens. Stop and taste a spoonful- just because it’s yummy!
The solids begin to clump as they separate from the liquids.
I switch to the paddle attachment for less splashing. 🙂
Solids completely separate from liquids. Beat for 30 more seconds on low.
Pour buttermilk in a jar and save. Add one cup ice-cold water to the mixer. Beat on low for 30 seconds. Pour the milky water down the drain and repeat with fresh water two more times.
Put butter in a bowl of ice-cold water and “wash” the butter by squeezing and smooshing it. Repeat with fresh water until water is clear. Lift butter ball and let water drain off. Pat dry with paper towels before storing. At this point, knead in a few pinches of salt, if desired.
To store butter, divide it into baseball-sized balls and put each on a square of plastic wrap.
Twist the ends of the plastic wrap.
Tie the ends of the plastic wrap in a knot. Store as-is in the fridge, or put in heavy-duty freezer bags to keep in the freezer.

That’s it! Now you have creamy, delicious butter! Be sure to keep that wonderful buttermilk, too. You can culture it (learn how here!), cook with it or even just drink it.

Also, be sure to check out my other top how-to food posts, such as my homemade sour cream tutorial and my homemade mocha recipe!

65 thoughts on “How to Make Homemade Butter

  1. Deborah says:

    I would like to try this! in the step where you put in the ice water the first time, are you putting the butter back in there and mixing it? The water doesn’t water it down? Just trying to understand! Thanks!

    • As long as the water is icy-cold, it will actually make the butter firmer. If it’s warm water, the butter will melt. As you squeeze the butter, the tiny amounts of buttermilk will be pressed out and will end up in the water, so you can just dump the milky water out. I hope that makes sense! When you try it, you’ll be able to see it happening better than what a picture can show. 🙂

    • Great tip, Debra! Thanks! We have a butter crock for keeping butter on the counter. It is filled part-way with cold water, then the butter filled part rests upside down in it. It keeps the butter cool and spreadable and protected from air! 🙂

    • Thanks for the question, Donna! It mostly depends on the diet of the cows, although some companies do add food coloring to make their butter yellow. I didn’t add anything except a few pinches of sea salt. Depending on the cow’s diet, the butter can be more or less yellow. In the spring and summer, it’s darker due to the vitamin A from the fresh grass they are eating. The cows that made this cream have been eating plenty of fresh grass. It could be that the cream you used was from cows that have been eating grain or dried hay. Also, the more buttermilk that you get out, the darker the butter is. I hope that helps! 🙂

  2. In 4th grade public school we made butter with the jar method using raw whole milk from a local farmer (which should tell you something about the town that even the public school let us use ‘real’ milk. It took forever but tasted soo good. I did not know you could make butter from store bought ‘whole’ milk since it is skimmed once, homogenized, and pasturized. May try this again with my kids if you can do it from store bought milk as it’s just too hard to find raw around here.

    • I remember trying to make butter in a jar once as a kid- it took so long!! 🙂 I love that you guys got to use raw milk in school.

      This recipe uses cream, not whole milk, but it can be store-bought cream. We seldom use our raw cream to make butter- the cream is just so delicious in coffee, tea and hot chocolate that I can’t often bring myself to make butter out of it! I just try to find the least processed cream possible and it works well

  3. Shirley V says:

    I love love butter and thank you for the recipe..I am going to make this..I prefer using butter and lard in my cooking since it is better for you than refined / hydrogenated oils..I have had fresh raw milk from a dairy farmer that lived across the street from my cousins..anytime they needed milk they just brought their own jugs and they would fill it up for them anytime they needed it..How convenient is that?

  4. Bev says:

    I would like to know how long it took for each step please. How long will the buttermilk and butter keep in the fridge? Thank you.

    • It depends on quite a few factors. For example, the colder the cream, the faster it seems to separate. I can time it all next time I make it and update the post, but any differences in the cream will make a difference in the times. For a rough estimate, my mixer takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to make a really thick whipped cream, then probably another 5 minutes to go from that to completely separated butter and buttermilk.

      As for how long it keeps, the butter will keep for weeks in the fridge or months in the freezer. Just be sure to “wash” out all the buttermilk and wrap the butter well. The buttermilk will keep as long as regular milk, unless you culture it. I’ll be doing that follow-up post next week. 🙂

  5. Vikki In Queensland says:

    What a fantastic recipe! I made jar butter with my seven year old last week as an experiment & am going to give this a try – I live in a very tropical climate though so am wondering if the heat & humidity will make it to difficult, has anyone else on here made this butter in a hot climate?? Wish us luck & please keep these wonderful ideas coming 🙂

  6. Laurie says:

    I know it depends on how much cream (milk) you start with but can you give me an idea how much butter i should be getting out of this?

    • I usually get 1 pound of butter for every quart (that’s 4 cups) of cream. If you normally buy butter in sticks, one of those packages of four long sticks of butter is one pound. Hope that helps! 🙂

    • *sigh* I can’t find any here, either. I have made the butter from organic high-temp pasteurized cream and it did work. Sometimes the high-temp just won’t separate into butter and buttermilk, though. If it doesn’t work, then you just have to figure out how use up a ton of whipped cream. 😉

  7. I just made the butter and it didn’t take long at all with a hand mixer! The kids tested it and said it was GOODDDDDDDDDDDDD! Never buying it again , ty for making my life easier and saving money too! God Bless u Mrs Christian Mama.Stacy

    • You can try it, but if it does work it you will be getting a lot less butter and a lot more buttermilk. I haven’t tried it before, though. 🙂

    • Oh, no! I haven’t ever had that happen, but I know of people who have. From their experience, it has been because the cream didn’t stay cold enough and the butter fats melted. Try chilling it again and then try again in the coolest area of your house. 🙂

  8. Anya says:

    Wondering if its possible the figure out nutritional facts for this? Would it just be the same as the nutritional facts of the cream you start with? I love your tutorial and have made it twice. However, I have a “non-believer” in my family that wants facts 🙂

    • I’m so glad you’ve been having some fun making butter! 🙂 Hmm… for nutritional facts, all real butter is pretty much equal. A tablespoon of butter is about 12 grams of fat and about 100 calories. There are some “light butter” products out there that are less, but they aren’t real butter. I hope you’re able to convert your non-believer, soon! Butter is so good and good for us! 😉

  9. Hi just found your website and am starting my sour butter tomorrow. I made it last week with sour cream and 2 cups of cream beet a long time with hand mixer. It isn’t sweet or sour but does taste like butter. My hubby wants sour butter. Thanks for you input. bettyann

    • I have seen butter from goat’s milk, but I’ve never tried it. There’s no reason that you can’t, except that goat’s milk is naturally homogenized and you will have to go to a bit more trouble to separate the cream from the milk. Either you’ll need to let it sit in the fridge until the cream rises to the top, or you’ll need to use a cream separator. It would certainly be worth the trouble, though! 🙂

    • If you use raw cream, then the lactose may not be an issue since the lactase (the enzyme that is needed for digesting lactose) hasn’t been cooked to death. 🙂 You could also try culturing pasteurized cream to make it more digestible, but really the raw cream is your best bet.

  10. Danya says:

    I love to make homemade butter but I am wondering how you make it cheaper? At my store a pint of cream is more expensive than the pound of butter.

    • Sadly, the prices of both butter and cream have gone up quite a bit since I wrote this post. At this point, we usually buy our butter since I can’t find organic cream without the carageenan additive (not a healthy thing!) for a decent price. When we get our own mini Jersey cow or some goats, we’ll make our butter from their raw cream. I’m just not willing to sacrifice the quality to make it cheaper, so for now we only make it on special occasion. Other than that thought, watching for sales or coupons is all I know of to reduce the cost. 🙂

  11. Julie says:

    Was wondering can you add olive oil to the fresh made butter to make it easy to spread? I have heard that canola oil is really not even a real oil. It’s chemically made and processed to get it. And if so, how much would you recommend? And will it change the shelf life if I do?

    • I agree that canola oil is not something we want to eat. 😉

      That’s a great idea about mixing the butter with olive oil, though! I haven’t tried it before, but it shouldn’t change the shelf life. As long as you stick with stable oils/fats, it will stay the same. If you were to add a water based liquid, that would shorten the shelf life because oil and water mixed together can grow bacteria and mold easily. I’d start with one part olive oil to 3 or 4 parts butter and see how the texture is after it sits for an hour or two. If it’s not soft enough, add a little more. Let me know how it turns out, Julie!

  12. Jenny says:

    Well this just has too much common sense written all over it! No wonder I’ve never thought of making butter with a blender before!

    • LOL! I’ve loved finding all the fun ways to do “old-fashioned” things in new ways! Most I never would have thought of on my own, but I’m always game for trying out the things I read about.

  13. michelle says:

    can you also can this type of butter?
    I know that you can dry can butter in the putting it into a mason jar melting and sealing.. can you do that with this too?

  14. Brian says:

    You may have already gotten these tips but as there are a lot of replies to go through I figured I would just see if I could fill any gaps not already covered this way. I have been making butter for a long time now. 1.I just use the beater bar and dont whip it set the timer for 30 minutes and set the kitchen aid to 3 or 4 no splattering butter clumps and separates a lot better than whipping first because it does not have any air whipped in. 2.Spring cream is the best to use because it is more yellow and richer in flavor. 3.a little salt in the butter will make it last longer and 4.if put in in logs and refrigerate it is easier to use later. That is all I know. hope it helps

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