How To Make Incredible Butter Worthy Of A Prairie Farmer

making butter and buttermilk - homemade butter and butter knife on a small square plate, a cut biscuit, and a bottle of buttermilk, all on a light aqua cloth

Homemade Butter Is Easier Than You Might Think

I really don’t know if I could live without butter.  In my opinion, it makes everything better! :-) Butter is the world’s most popular fat, and has been a staple in the human diet since humans began making it thousands of years ago.

The process of making butter (and its tasty and useful by-product, buttermilk) hasn’t changed much since it was discovered. But fortunately for us, advances in modern technology allow us to make these prized dairy products much more quickly, and with a minimal amount of effort.

Whether you make your butter with an old-fashioned churn or a stand mixer, you’ll end up with a thick, luscious butter and a tangy, creamy buttermilk that store-bought products just can’t top. Once you try them, you’ll be hooked!

The process of making butter isn’t difficult: put heavy cream in your stand mixer, beat on high for about ten minutes until soft peaks form, then increase the speed and beat until it separates into butter and buttermilk. Knead gently to get all the buttermilk out, then season the butter with salt.

How To Make Homemade Butter (And Buttermilk)

making butter and buttermilk - red stand mixer plugged in on counter with a pitcher of heavy cream next to it.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups heavy cream (organic, if possible)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt (optional)
making butter and buttermilk - pouring heavy cream into bowl of a stand mixer

Instructions:

Pour the cream into the bowl of your stand mixer.

making butter and buttermilk - hand holding whisk attachment of stand mixer covered with whipped cream

Beat the cream with the whisk attachment on a moderately high speed until it holds soft peaks (about 10 to 12 minutes.)

making butter and buttermilk - butter and buttmild separated out in mixing bowl

Increase the speed to high until the cream separates, about 5 more minutes. The cream will separate into a thick yellow substance (the butter) and a thin, white liquid (the buttermilk.)

Note: The mixing times listed above will vary depending on your mixer and the quality of your cream.

making butter and buttermilk - hands kneading butter over a colander

Place a colander into a large bowl, and dump the contents of the mixer into the colander. Knead the butter gently to squeeze out the remaining buttermilk. Continue to knead the butter for about five minutes, until the butter is dense and creamy.

Rinse the kneaded butter under ice cold water until the water runs clear — this will help your butter last longer. Work out any excess water with a bit more kneading.

Then knead the salt into the butter, if desired, until well distributed.

making butter and buttermilk - homemade butter rolled up in plastic wrap

Place the butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll it up and twist the ends of the plastic wrap to form a log, and chill in the fridge to solidify.

making butter and buttermilk - fine sieve over a bowl, with small bits of butter in sieve.

Pour the leftover liquid from making butter through a fine mesh sieve, then pour your finished buttermilk into an airtight container for storage.

making butter and buttermilk - homemade butter on a dish with a butter knife, biscuit and buttermilk in background

Fresh butter and buttermilk will keep for a week in the fridge, or about a month if stored in the freezer.

Related: How To Soften Butter Quickly Without Using The Microwave

making butter and buttermilk - glass bottle of buttermilk with cork stopper

Making your own butter probably won’t save you money, but it’s a real treat and makes a meaningful addition to holiday breakfasts, anniversary dinners, or birthday desserts. Making your own butter is definitely a labor of love, rather than a practical way to save time or money.

Wondering what to do with buttermilk from making butter? Buttermilk makes a surprisingly good substitute for cream of tartar in many cases, and for more buttermilk inspiration, check out my 12 ways to use up leftover buttermilk. (Don’t miss the buttermilk syrup recipe from that post — trust me!)

How will you use your homemade butter?

making butter and buttermilk - homemade butter and butter knife on a small square plate, a cut biscuit, and a bottle of buttermilk, all on a light aqua cloth

Homemade Butter & Buttermilk Recipe

Jill Nystul
The unbeatable flavor of homemade butter and buttermilk will elevate any recipe or meal.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 3 sticks of butter
Calories 3237 kcal

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Colander
  • Fine sieve

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups heavy cream organic, if possible
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt optional

Instructions
 

  • Pour the cream into the bowl of your stand mixer, then use the whisk attachment to beat it on a moderately high speed for 10-12 minutes, or until it holds soft peaks.
  • Increase the speed to high until the cream separates, about 5 more minutes, into butter and buttermilk.
  • Place a colander into a large bowl, then pour the butter and buttermilk into the colander.
  • Knead the butter gently over the colander to squeeze out the remaining buttermilk.
  • Continue to knead for about 5 minutes until the butter is dense and creamy, then rinse under ice cold water until the water runs clear.
  • Knead the salt into the butter (if using) until well distributed.
  • Place your homemade butter on a sheet of plastic wrap, then roll it up and twist the ends of the plastic wrap to form a log and chill.
  • Pour the liquid from the bowl through a fine mesh sieve, then transfer the buttermilk to an airtight container and store in the fridge.

Notes

This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups (or 3 sticks) of butter and 3 cups of buttermilk.

Nutrition

Calories: 3237kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 27gFat: 344gSaturated Fat: 219gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gMonounsaturated Fat: 87gCholesterol: 1076mgSodium: 645mgPotassium: 904mgSugar: 28gVitamin A: 13994IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 629mgIron: 1mg

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Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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45 Comments

  1. Yes, but to get the excess liquid off, plunge it in a bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water. That will ensure that the butter is thoroughly rinsed from the buttermilk AFTER you’ve collected the buttermilk when you used the colander.
    This should be the last step before packaging

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  2. Would regular mixing beaters work? My mixer doesn’t have whisk attachment? ( My family used to have a dairy, and we used raw milk to make homemade butter. We loved the taste of it!)

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    • Sure, Sherry, that would work too. I better the butter you made with raw milk was delicious!

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    • Yes the regular mixer blades will work.

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  3. I remember, from my childhood, visiting my grandmother in Texarkana, Arkansas. Her stand mixer would be running and she was making butter using the cream from my great-uncle’s dairy farm! I thought this was the greatest thing! I wasn’t aware of the buttermilk, though. Knowing her, she probably used it for some of her delicious baking.

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  4. I’ve made butter a couple of times, but because I only have access to store bought cream, I found it tasted pretty much like store bought butter. I’d love to get my hands on some good and fresh Jersey Cow cream.

    Also unless you culture your cream the buttermilk left over from the butter isnt true buttermilk yet. If you do use a culture it will turn into buttermilk (oh and whey is the by product when you make cheese). I’ll leave a link to a website that explains this better than I can.

    Be sure to rinse your butter throughly with ice cold water. If you don’t the butter will go bad faster. And even though it’s not my favorite thing to do I keep dipping my hands in the ice water so they stay cold when I’m rincing the butter.

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  5. As delicious as homemade butter can be, I would recommend exercising caution! It can be more expensive and time-consuming to make your own butter than to purchase it. Normally I’m all gung-ho about making your own products, but butter is one of those things that can be tricky

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  6. This brings back fond memories of when our beautiful daughter was a little girl who lived and breathed anything Little House on the Prairie. We looked all over for an old-fashioned butter churn but were never successful in finding one. We wound up making butter anyway with a recipe we found and still felt pioneerish with our finished product. I’ll definitely be making some with your easy recipe. Thanks, Jillee!

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  7. I’m pretty sure that the liquid that comes off the butter is whey and not buttermilk which requires a different process.

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  8. Jill you are amazing. Pretty soon I shall not have to buy a darned thing from the grocery store! Well – you know what I mean. My mom in Heaven must be doing a happy dance as I seem to have taken over where she left off. Thank you my beloved mom.

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  9. This post was very useful. Thank you. I hope to make some butter this week.

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  10. I’m curious to know how much of each of the butter and buttermilk the 6 cups of cream yields?

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    • About 2 cups butter and almost 3 cups buttermilk :-)

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  11. This is the easy way! I’ve taken leftover heavy cream, put it in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid, and shook the jar till my arm was ready to fall off. Then shake it some more. It’s a good workout! You can definitely tell when the liquid turns in to butter. Then I kneaded gently while rinsing with cool water. The cool water negates the heat of your hands. It makes the best butter ever!

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  12. You must rinse the butter until it runs clear, under cold running water. This removes all traces of the buttermilk, which is what will give your butter a sour, milky taste. In addition, if you try to knead the milk out of the butter with your hands, the heat from your hands melts the fat and you’ll end up with a greasy mess and no butter. Back in the old days, they had butter paddles that were made out of grooved wood and they rinsed and worked the butter between the two paddles. You can substitute a wooden cutting board and a wide, rubber spatula. Put the butter on the board, place the board under a gently, slow stream of cold water and work the butter around with the spatula until the water runs clear. Work in the salt, if using, and store in the fridge.

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  13. You can also use a ice cream maker. We did that by accident once. (was using raw milk. the ice cream had an interesting taste that time. luckily it was butter pecan :) ) Also if you get fresh cream from a farm, you can use it the same day, but my BIL says it tastes better if you let it “clabber” first. You let it sit for three days, in fridge, before churning. He says it will have a better flavor. You don’t need to do this with cream form the store, as it is probably at least that old already.

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  14. When I lived in New Mexico in the 80’s I wanted to make butter like the pioneers so I went to my friends farm and got some fresh cream, put it in a shaker Tupperware container and began shaking my brains out until I finally got about a 1/4 cup of butter and like amount of buttermilk. I have to say I was so proud of myself to get my butter and glad that I live in the modern age because my arms just about fell off with all that shaking. The pioneers sure had a hard life.

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  15. is this butter any healthier or lower fat than store bought?

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    • Homemade butter will taste creamier and it won’t have any additives. It is still made from heavy cream, so that fat content isn’t much different. :-)

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  16. We were just discussibg this,yesterday with our son. I will definitely be trying this. Thanks

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  17. This is amazing. Love it. I know butter is healthier for you, but it’s so expensive in the stores unless it’s on sale . One of these of these days we’ll try this. Our heavy duty mixer we’ve had for years bit the dust awhile back.

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  18. You forgot to list a step.

    After you get the butter into a clump, you need to knead while rinsing the buttermilk from the actual butter. It helps keep the butter from going rancid. After rinsing until the water is clear, then you can add salt, if you want it. Salt is optional – just as you can buy salted and unsalted butter in the store.

    Another thing that makes the butter last longer is using a butter bell. Basically, it’s an egg-cup shaped bowl that is inverted into a matching top that has been filled with water. The water seals the butter to keep the air out.

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    • Rinse with tap water?? I am unsure of this step, and if skipped, does the butter not last one week? Please explain in more detail and about this butter bell…if you do not buy one, how could you imitate this with things you already have in your kitchen. Thanks!!

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    • I don’t understand the “rinsing with water”. I churned cream into butter many times using the old fashioned, hand churn and we never rinsed the butter. We also didn’t sieve the buttermilk as it tastes much better with the small chunks of butter in it.
      What sells in the stores today as buttermilk is a real shame on the milk industry. It doesn’t taste like real buttermilk at all. But, then, the butter doesn’t taste like real butter, either.

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    • I agree with Barbara. The Weston A. Price group I belong to teaches this method. I made butter once without rinsing, and it did go rancid in the refrigerator after a week. (I use raw milk I buy from a farm weekly.) Also, this can be done in a food processor as well, in fact I’ve always done it that way. Will try my KitchenAid mixer and compare results.

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  19. I made cream this way as a curious teen back in the ’60s. But I don’t remember the buttermilk as being tart at all, it was just ordinary nonfat milk. How would you make it sour like commercial buttermilk? The acidity of buttermilk is what makes it useful in baking to help things rise. Would you add vinegar or lemon juice?

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    • you can add vinegar, one tbsp per cup of milk. that will make it work technically, but it doesn’t make it anything like today’s buttermilk. buttermilk is made these days by adding cultures to milk. similar to making yogurt. that is what makes it thick and tangy. i don’t know if nonfat milk with vinegar will work in some recipes, you probably need the fat in regular milk for the right texture/richness.

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    • It will depend on the quality of the cream that you use – but if it doesn’t taste very acid, you can definitely add a little lemon juice! Great idea, Janet!

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  20. If you start out with 6 cups of cream can you please tell us approximately how much butter and buttermilk it yields?

    We love the idea of trying this. Thank you so much for all your fabulous posts. My daughter and I both follow you.

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    • When I make it I get about 12oz of butter (by weight) and about 2 cups of buttermilk.

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    • Thanks Marcie! It made about 2 cups of butter and about 2-3 cups of buttermilk!

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  21. Jillee, you’re the most clever thing this side of the Mississippi! Thank you!

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  22. Nice! Will this also work for something like coconut cream?

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