How to Make Your Own Butter

Homemade Butter is so simple, you’ll wonder why you never made your own butter at home before. With only 4 ingredients, you’ll be “churning” every day!

knife spreading homemade butter onto bread with text overlay for facebook


 

Seriously. Homemade butter is the bomb! And who can say they make their own butter? YOU! Now everyone, bust out their wooden butter churner. (I am 100% kidding.)

Why Is It Better To Make Your Own Butter?

Butter is one of those things I just can’t get enough of. I’ve been known to hoard the butter dish at restaurants. Hubby knows to ask for two right when we sit down. If not, he isn’t getting any. And now my kids are also butter-lovers.

It truly is the most simple thing on the planet. It is simply milk or in this case, heavy cream, that is churned and hopefully well salted.

Making it at home means no additives and no preservatives. You have total control over everything including whether or not you are adding salt and how much. What is not to love?

Most of us are eating cow’s milk butter but you could make butter out of different kinds of milk if you wanted to try a different flavor. Think of it like eat a goat cheese or a sheep’s milk cheese instead of a traditional cow’s milk cheese.

Why You’ll Love This Homemade Butter Recipe

The whole process of making your own butter only takes a couple of minutes from start to finish- what’s not to love!

  • Fun activity – I remember making butter in an elementary school class. You can involve the kids in your butter making; it’s an easy science activity for summer when the kids are out of school.
  • Easy to make – Sure, it’s easy to go buy a stick of butter from the store; but how satisfying and almost as easy it is to make your own at home!
  • Use on anything – You can use fresh butter on anything you’d like to! Slather on a slice of sourdough bread or use it in baking.
  • Customizable – You can flavor this butter however you’d like. Make small batches and flavor each of them differently.
overhead shot of knife in bowl of homemade butter

History of Butter

It is believed that the first batch of butter was purely accidental. Someone was riding on a horse with milk and the agitation from riding “churned” the mixture making butter. Salt, a naturally occurring substance, was one of the few seasonings used and so salt was added for flavor, but also to help preserve the mixture.

Since then, it has been used for medicinal purposes, in religious ceremonies and of course, for cooking.

Butter can vary greatly depending on geographic location because they cows making the cream (highest fat content milk skimmed from the top after milking) are eating vastly different diets. You’ll see the most notable differences between American and European butters.

bite taken out of slice of bread with homemade butter

American Butter vs European Butter

European butters are usually darker yellow, churned longer and have a higher butter fat between 82-86%. American style is a little paler and closer to 80% fat. You’ll also see differences in smoke point, texture and consistency.

American butters are usually labeled AA, A and B butters. This also has to do with quality- AA is the best with a higher fat content, least amount of water and longest churn.

Cultured butter just means that the is is made with cream that has sat and cultured (like yogurt) and now has a tangy flavor.

Homemade Butter Ingredients

All of these simple ingredients can easily be found at your local grocery store, if you don’t already have them on hand.

  • Heavy cream – Cream will separate into butter and buttermilk as it is agitated and cooled. There is not substitute.
  • Salt – Coarse Kosher salt works, but so does cheese salt. Cheese salt is a small and easily dissolvable salt that is not iodized. It is great for flavor and preserving.
  • Ice water – Not mandatory, but ice-cold water helps the mixture separated and solidify.
  • Desired add-ins – Like fresh herbs, pepper, spices, dried fruits and other seasonings. Check the section below for even more ideas.
close up shot of homemade butter on a knife

How to Make Homemade Butter

So how does it all work, butter without the churn? Let your food processor or your blender do the work.

When the cream is agitated (spun around in the machine,) it breaks the membranes around the fat granules. These separate and then join together to form clumps. Those clumps are butter! The leftover liquid is homemade buttermilk.

  1. Add heavy cream to food processor. Place the heavy cream in a food processor or blender. Hit blend and watch your appliance do the work. You will see the mixture changes in both consistency and color.
  2. Mix until cream separates. Continue to mix until cream separates into butter and butterfat. Drain off the butterfat and discard or save (it’s buttermilk).
  3. Mix in ice water. Add ice water and continue to blend. Drain off water, then add additional of ice water and repeat. Drain. Mix in the salt and just pulse a few times.
  4. Add flavorings. Add any other flavors as well- fresh herbs, citrus zest, dried fruit bits or other spices.
  5. Store or use. Refrigerate until ready to use in any recipe that requires butter.

Variations

Once you have the basic homemade butter recipe made, you can then make your own compound butter. Compound butter is flavoring butter in different ways besides salt. 

They are great for spreading on bread, topping your favorite steak, making garlic bread…the list goes on and on.

  • Fresh herbs – Parsley, cilantro, sage, basil, rosemary, lavender or pretty much any other fresh herb you can think of would taste great in a compound butter.
  • Citrus – When paired with the fresh herbs above, orange, lemon or lime zest or juice are perfection in butter.
  • Spices – Things like fresh garlic, dried fruit, chili powder, jalapenos, honey, cinnamon or sundried tomatoes are all excellent choices also.
close up shot of butter on a knife

Storage and Freezing

Although salt is a natural preservative, we don’t recommend storing homemade butter for long than 2 weeks. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Homemade butter can also be frozen.

My favorite ways to store my own homemade butter are in a glass jar like baby food jars or even a mason jar. You could even wrap a ball of butter or log shape in plastic wrap or parchment paper.

Storage: Butter will last in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. However, the shelf life depends on how well you extract the buttermilk. If a substantial amount of buttermilk remains, it will sour within a week, because it is, well, buttermilk.

Adding salt helps to preserve it some, but it is fresh cream so it can go rancid.

Freezing: Wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place inside a heavy-duty freezer bag.

Frozen salted butter will keep at best quality for up to 12 months, unsalted butter will stay at best quality for about 6 months.

Also, the fresher the butter, the better is freezes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to make your own butter?

The honest answer is probably not. Large butter companies get cream at a cheaper price than you will at the store. But it is so satisfying to make your own and it tastes great!

Is homemade butter better?

This really depends on the quality of the ingredients you use. Pay attention to the quality of cream you are using as well as the type of salt.

Can you use homemade butter in baking?

Yes! Why couldn’t you? Some even believe that since it isn’t perfectly smooth (down on the molecular level) that is produces even better pastries.

Can I leave homemade butter out?

Just like store bought butter, the FDA doesn’t recommend leaving it out for longer than 2 hours.

How long does it take to churn butter?

Churning butter in the blender will take 2-5 minutes.

Can you make butter from milk?

No, you can not make butter from milk, only heavy cream. Cream has more fat solids, which are needed to make solid butter. Milk is too watery.

collage of homemade butter for pinterest

Recipes That Use Leftover Buttermilk

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bite taken out of slice of bread slathered with butter with text overlay for pinterest
spreading knife in bowl of butter

How to Make Butter from Heavy Cream

4.27 from 234 votes
This Homemade Butter Recipe is ready in just 5 minutes using your blender, heavy cream, ice water and salt. You’ll wonder why you never made butter at home before! 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cup

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the heavy cream in a food processor or blender. Hit blend and watch your appliance do the work. You will see the mixture changes in both consistency and color over about 2-3 minutes.
  • Continue to mix until cream separates into butter and butterfat. Drain off the butterfat and discard or save (it's buttermilk).
  • Add 1/2 cup of ice water and continue to blend for 30 seconds. Drain off water. Add additional 1/2 cup of ice water and repeat. Drain. Mix in the salt and just pulse a few times.
  • Add any other flavors as well- fresh herbs, citrus zest, dried fruit bits or other spices.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use in any recipe that requires butter.
  • If you've tried this recipe, please come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 1109 kcal, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Protein: 13 g, Fat: 171 g, Saturated Fat: 109 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 43 g, Cholesterol: 535 mg, Sodium: 2453 mg, Potassium: 450 mg, Sugar: 14 g, Vitamin A: 6956 IU, Vitamin C: 3 mg, Calcium: 314 mg, Iron: 0.5 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 1109
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Homemade butter recipe
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

    1. Hi Deb! The actual amount varies based on your cream- different ones are going to have varying water contents and butterfat ratios. Mine generally makes about 1 cup.

  1. 4 stars
    I made butter by accident. I wanted whipped cream, but let the cream too long, it turned out butter. If you want your butter to last and taste good for many many days, the trick is to really wash out the remainder of the buttermilk. So you keep rinsing and rinsing until the water turns out totally clear.

  2. How long will the butter last in the fridge? Can it be froze? Can I use the leftover buttermilk for frying chicken or is that different from store bought buttermilk? I never realized how easy it is to make butter. I can’t wait to try this. 🙂

    1. Hi Jae! You can use your leftover buttermilk from the chicken, all the same thing! It generally lasts about a week- it can probably last longer, but since you aren’t using any preservatives other than salt, I wouldn’t take the chance.

  3. 5 stars
    I like the whipped consistency of this butter. I have made butter in the past with my kids when we put the ingredients in a jar and shook it. That takes a long time though. This looks so much easier!

  4. What a fantastic idea! I had no idea I could make my own butter. I am pinning this to make! How long does it keep and how do you store it?

  5. How easy is this! I never ever thought to make homemade butter, but I’m definitely going to give it a try. You make it sound so EASY and that’s my favorite type of recipe. Thanks so much for sharing. Pinned