Homemade Butter {The Ultimate Guide}

If you’re wondering how to make your own cultured butter or sweet cream butter, this is the only guide you need. No matter what kind of milk and cream you have, you can use it to make homemade butter. I will show you how to transform your raw milk or pasteurized milk into real homemade butter.

A rectangular block of homemade cultured butter on a crumpled piece of parchment paper next to a napkin.

In This Article

  • Step-by-step instructions with pictures of the butter making process.
  • I will explain what cultured butter and sweet cream butter is along with  how they differ.
  • How to make cultured butter (fermented butter) from raw cream.
  • How to make cultured butter from pasteurized (including UHT) cream.
  • How to make sweet cream butter (aka regular butter) from raw or pasteurized cream.
  • How to make butter from milk.
  • How to make butter in a blender or by using a hand-mixer.
  • Butter nutrition.

Cultured butter is butter made from fresh cream that has been allowed to culture (ferment) at room temperature for about 24 hours. It is traditionally made with raw cream.

You can make cultured butter with pasteurized cream, but you must add a culture to it to do so safely (more on that below).

Sweet cream butter is made from fresh cream that is churned or whipped/mixed into butter. It can be made easily (and in the exact same way) with raw cream or pasteurized cream.

Sweet cream butter is what most people in North America are familiar with. Your grocery store may not even have cultured butter which is much more common in Europe.

I will show you how to make both cultured butter and sweet cream butter using raw cream or pasteurized cream.

You can follow this exact guide using cow’s milk, pasteurized or raw goat’s milk, or whatever other animal milk you are using.

Use the table of contents to jump to the section you need. There is a FAQ at the end too, which addresses most questions and problems.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section as well.

You can also check out my guide on how to make sour milk and use your fresh butter in my sweet and savory butter board.

And for more dairy recipes, check out my homemade herbed paneer cheese, my raw kefir smoothie, and my traditional recipe for Irish soda bread which uses the buttermilk leftover from this recipe. You may want to try that one out as you will have buttermilk to use up!

How To Make Butter From Milk

If you have fresh raw or pasteurized milk that is not homogenized (the cream has risen to the top) you can skim the cream off and use that.

You can’t, however, make butter from milk itself or from homogenized milk which has no cream to skim.

Butter is fat and the fat from milk is primarily in the rich cream.

To skim the cream off of milk, you can simply use a spoon. Don’t worry if some of the milk below gets into it.

Ingredients

The ingredients needed for butter making on a marble countertop.
  • Cream | You can use raw cream, pasteurized cream, whipping cream, heavy cream etc. I recommend you source the highest quality milk for butter making that you can find and afford. For me that means grass fed raw milk, or organic grass-fed non-homogenized pasteurized milk. We love Guernsey milk and Jersey milk especially as it is very high in fat. You can also use goat cream of course.
  • Salt | A pinch of salt is nice but optional. If you want to make salted butter like you would buy in the store, you can do that too, it will actually last a bit longer.
  • Cold Water | Not exactly an ingredient, but you will need cold water to wash your butter at the end.

Equipment

You can choose from one of these options to make butter:

  • Hand-mixer | My personal preference and the easiest way.
  • Blender | not my favorite, but I have made butter in my Vitamix blender before.
  • Butter Churn | You can buy old-fashioned and modern butter churns.
  • Jar | Literally just shaking your cream in a sealed jar will eventually make butter although I do not recommend this as it takes too long and is kinda rough on your poor arms.

Instructions

How To Make Cultured Butter From RAW Cream:

  1. Take your raw cream and leave it out at room temperature (covered) for 24 hours.
  2. After that time has passed, proceed with the instructions below to turn the cream into butter.

How To Make Cultured Butter From PASTEURIZED Cream:

  1. Take your pasteurized cream and add live cultures from kefir or yogurt into it.
  2. Cover the cream and put it in your refrigerator overnight or up to 4 days to culture.
  3. Allow this cream to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding with the instructions below on turning it into butter.
  4. This is not true cultured butter but it is the closes you will get with pasteurized cream.

To Make Sweet Cream Butter From Raw OR Pasteurized Milk:

  1. Nothing special is required.
  2. Take your cream, let it come closer to room temperature for easier whipping, and then proceed with the instructions below.

These are the basic instructions that will turn your cream into butter. These photos will demonstrate how the cream begins to change in appearance. Use these photos as a reference if you’re unsure of what is happening and how it’s all supposed to look.

A hand mixer whipping cream in a large glass bowl.

Start mixing your cream. Whether you are using a hand-mixer like I prefer, a blender, a traditional butter churner, or shaking a jar vigorously — the process is the same. The agitation of the cream will cause the fat to separate from the liquid. This can happen as fast as 5 minutes or may take longer than 20 minutes. Usually it takes about 10-15.

Raw cream being whipped into buttercream.

See that? It’s whipped cream. On the road to making butter, you will first make buttercream.

Cream and butter starting to separate in a large glass bowl as it is mixed.

Eventually your whipped cream will break and start to look like this.

Cream and butter starting to separate in a large glass bowl as it is mixed. The buttermilk is being squeezed out.

This is butter and buttermilk, sometimes called whey too. You have to now separate the buttermilk from the butter as well as you can before washing the butter. Using a silicone spatula, butter sticks, or just your hands (rinse them under cold water so that the butter doesn’t melt) start squeezing the butter fat and wringing out the water.

Cream and butter starting to separate in a large glass bowl as it is mixed. The buttermilk is being squeezed out.

There is a lot of liquid, but you don’t want to waste the buttermilk as it can be used in so many baking recipes, or even just drank.

The globs of butter that are left in the bowl after the buttermilk is squeezed out.

When you have squeezed out as much buttermilk as possible, ad a pinch of salt (or more if making salted butter) and work it into the butter.

Butter being washed in a large glass bowl with water.

It is now time to wash the butter. Get a bowl of cold water. Or place a bowl under the faucet in your kitchen sink and use constantly running water.

A finished ball of homemade butter.

Wash your butter under the cold water until the butter runs clear. If you leave the liquid in, your butter will spoil very quickly, so do not neglect this step.

How To Make Butter In A Blender

  1. Pour room temperature cream into blender.
  2. Blend until the cream separates and watch the entire time.
  3. This can happen in a minute with a powerful blender like a Vitamix, or it can take up to 10 minutes in an older or slower blender.
  4. I recommend blending on low (if possible) if using this method. The hand mixer is much simpler, easier to clean up, and easier to get the butter out, especially as their are no sharp blades.

Hint: All that buttermilk you press out initially is not waste! Use buttermilk instead of sour milk to make my traditional Irish soda bread.

A rectangular block of homemade cultured butter on a crumpled piece of parchment paper next to a silver knife.
You can shape your butter as in the picture, leave it as a ball, or even use pretty butter molds and stamps to create designs.

What Is Cultured Butter?

Cultured butter is simply butter that has been made with cultured cream. It has a tangy flavour and more naturally occurring active probiotic bacterias.

Cultured (or fermented) dairy contains lactic acid-producing bacteria that break down both lactose (specific milk sugars) and casein (milk proteins) which aids in your digestion. It is literally a probiotic.

You can only make true cultured butter with raw cream. Cultured butter that you typically buy in stores is made with pasteurized milk that has had the live bacterial cultures added back into it that the pasteurization killed off in the first place.

Cultured butter was likely discovered by accident by European housewives. Even during my mother’s time, butter was made like this

In the past, after the milking was done each morning, a bit of the precious cream would be skimmed from the top after the milk had settled and placed aside by the women.

That cream would be saved and added to until there was enough to make a quantity of butter for the family.

There was no refrigeration of course, and no one knew what bacteria was back then, but this process would become the first cultured cream and the first cultured butter.

Leaving raw cream at room temperature for about 24 hours is all it takes.

This process allows the good, beneficial bacteria that are naturally found in raw milk and cream to flourish and multiply. The end result is a tangy flavour to your homemade butter which has also been transformed into a probiotic and nourishing food by this process.

Making Cultured Butter With Pasteurized Milk

You can use kefir or yogurt to culture pasteurized cream and turn it into a sort of copy of cultured butter. But you cannot leave pasteurized cream out at room temperature for long periods of time.

See the recipe card below for detailed instructions and quantities.

What Is Sweet Cream Butter?

Sweet cream butter is just what you probably consider butter to be.

Sweet cream butter is made with uncultured cream. You can use raw or pasteurized depending on what you have access to. The cream does not have live bacteria added into it and it is not left out to ferment for any period of time.

Sweet cream butter will be, well — sweet, versus the tanginess of the cultured stuff.

Both are delicious and I make and love them equally, but cultured butter will definitely have some added benefits in terms of bacterial activity.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Salted Or Unsalted: Make unsalted or salted variations. This information is in the recipe card at the bottom.
  • Herbed Compound Butter: Add fresh or dried herbs into your butter. Or even wild ramps! This is a great way to preserve fresh herbs by making compound butters you can freeze and use throughout the year as needed.
  • Butter Of The Gods: Mix roasted or smoked bone marrow with your fresh butter in a 50/50 ratio and use it on steaks, roasted potatoes, roasted vegetables. Herbed butter works really well in this preparation, especially parsley, and I recommend adding salt or even smoked salt (recipe). I have a recipe for roasted bone marrow you can use.
A block of homemade raw milk cultured butter on parchment paper.

Storage & Freezing

Butter does and will go rancid. Especially raw butter. Luckily butter can be frozen with no noticeable loss in quality.

Raw butter will last up to 3 weeks refrigerated.

The shelf life of homemade raw butter will depend on how well you washed the butter and extracted the buttermilk. If you did a poor job of this, it will likely sour within a week.

We eat a lot of butter, and cook with it too, so I always have some butter on the counter at room temperature. The rest is kept in the refrigerator or freezer.

Video

In this video I make raw cultured butter and then use the buttermilk to soak my flour overnight before making traditional Irish soda bread.

Did you know raw milk is illegal in Canada?

The first farmer I ever purchased raw milk from in Toronto, a lovely man named Michael Ilgert who is now out of business, was threatened with jail and fined — all for providing willing and knowledgable customers with a simple food product.

Read: Raw milk, raw deal? Farmer fined $1,500, quits milking operation.

A big block of raw homemade cultured butter on a white plate.

Butter Nutrition Facts

Butter is a healthy traditional fat that human beings have cherished and used for thousands of years. Before the biased war on fat, butter was seen in many places as a traditional healing and nourishing food — because it is one.

Butter is one of the most complex of all dietary fats, containing more than 400 different fatty acids.

It is a great source of Vitamin A (both the Retinol and Beta Carotene forms) as well as Vitamin K2 which is protective against heart disease and osteoarthritis.

Butter, because of its fat content will also be a source of naturally occurring Vitamin D3. Most dairy products like milk are fortified with D3, but it does occur naturally in grass-fed raw cream and butter.

Vitamin E is another naturally occurring nutrient. As is butyrate or butyric acid which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the digestive system and has been used to treat Crohn’s disease.

But the nutrition of butter will vary vastly based on what the cow is eating. A grass-fed cow grazing on lush green pastures will produce a more nutrient-dense product than one with limited access to high-quality forage.

There are no sugars, protein, or carbohydrates in butter. Raw butter will however be a source of microbial cultures and enzymes that are good for your gut. This is still an emerging field that is little studied.

Butter made from raw grass-fed cream is going to have a superior nutritional profile to the stuff you typically find in grocery stores.

One of the biggest lies masquerading as technical truths in the raw milk debate is that there is virtually no nutritional differences between raw and pasteurized milk. And you know what? They’re right.

But let’s read between the lines with what this statement actually means.

Will there be a plethora of nutritional differences between a glass of raw and pasteurized milk from the same Holstein cow that dominates the milk found on the grocery store shelves?

No of course not. Some for sure. B12 is a huge one apparently.

But what about a glass of that milk compared to a glass of raw exclusively grass-fed milk from a Guernsey cow?

Or how about the bacterial and enzyme activity in a glass of raw versus unpasteurized milk? Probiotic and enzyme activity is conveniently excluded from that discussion as it is technically not a “nutrient” in the way that Vitamin A is, but it definitely makes a difference health-wise for the person drinking the milk.

The breed of the cow will make a difference just as the diet of the animal will.

Unfortunately, you can’t find much in the way of actual scientific comparisons and there isn’t exactly an industry push to do so either.

Woman's hands spreading butter on sourdough bread
Fresh butter and jam on sourdough bread is one of the greatest simple pleasures in life.

FAQ

Can I use UHT Cream to make butter?

I would personally not recommend using UHT milk or cream, ever. If you need to use it in a pinch, the UHT cream will make butter and I would definitely recommend culturing it with kefir or yogurt to bring back some life into what is a dead product. Culturing the UHT cream might also make it easier to digest.

Is cultured butter healthier than regular butter?

All butter is a healthy part of a human diet, but cultured butter will contain enzymes and beneficial bacteria that make it even better and easier to digest.

What is the healthiest butter to eat?

Cultured butter from grass fed cows eating a quality pasture will always contain more enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.

Print

A rectangular block of homemade cultured butter on a crumpled piece of parchment paper next to a napkin.

Make Homemade Butter {The Ultimate Guide}

If you're wondering how to make your own cultured butter or sweet cream butter, this is the only guide you need. No matter what kind of milk and cream you have, you can use it to make homemade butter. I will show you how to transform your raw milk or pasteurized milk into real homemade butter.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Culturing Time (If Doing): 1 day
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: European
Keyword: butter, cultured butter, grass-fed butter, raw butter, raw milk, sweet cream butter
Servings: 1 lbs
Calories: 3420kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Equipment

  • Hand Mixer (or blender or butter churn)
  • Bowls
  • Silicone spatula

Ingredients

  • 1 litre cream raw or pasteurized, preferably not UHT, but it will do in a pinch.
  • teaspoon fine sea salt not iodized, optional

Instructions

For Making Raw Cultured Butter From Raw Cream

  • Leave your cream out on your counter at room temperature, covered, for 24 hours before proceeding to the following steps.

For Making Cultured Butter From Pasteurized Cream

  • Add 1 tablespoon of kefir or yogurt (any kind) for every 1 cup of pasteurized cream. Stir and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours and up to 3 days before proceeding to the next steps.

For Making Sweet Cream Butter From Pasteurized OR Unpasteurized Cream

  • No special preparation is required. Proceed with the following steps to make butter.
  • Allow your cream to come to room temperature, or close to it, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. This makes the butter easier to mix and separate.
  • Take your cream and place it into a large bowl.
  • Start mixing your cream. Whether you are using a hand-mixer like I prefer, a blender, a traditional butter churner, or shaking a jar vigorously — the process is the same. The agitation of the cream will cause the fat to separate from the liquid. This can happen as fast as 5 minutes or may take longer than 20 minutes. Usually it takes about 10-15.
  • You will eventually (10ish minutes) get whipped cream, keep going.
  • After about 10-15 minutes, the whipped cream will separate into yellow fat butter globules and a milky-yellow liquid. Keep going for a couple more minutes until the fat is well separated.
  • Using a colander, strain out the buttermilk from the butter into another bowl. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula (or your cold hands), continue to get out as much of the buttermilk as possible.
  • When you have squeezed out as much buttermilk as possible, add a pinch of salt (or more if making salted butter) and work it into the butter.
  • Using either your hands or a wide silicon spatula, wash your butter well under cold running water, or directly in a large bowl filled with cold water, kneading and squishing it well.
  • The cold of the water will firm up the butter making this part easier, and eventually, your water will run clear and not cloudy, meaning that the buttermilk has been well and properly extracted. (I prefer to do the washing in another bowl under constant running water.)
  • Store butter refrigerated for up to 3 weeks, or frozen for up to 1 year.

Video

Notes

Cultured butter is butter made from fresh cream that has been allowed to culture (ferment) at room temperature for about 24 hours. It is traditionally made with raw cream.
You can make cultured butter with pasteurized cream, but you must add a culture to it to do so safely (more on that below).
Sweet cream butter is made from fresh cream that is churned or whipped/mixed into butter. It can be made easily (and in the exact same way) with raw cream or pasteurized cream.
Sweet cream butter is what most people in North America are familiar with. Your grocery store may not even have cultured butter which is much more common in Europe.

Making Cultured Butter With Pasteurized Milk

You can use kefir or yogurt to culture pasteurized cream and turn it into a sort of copy of cultured butter. But you cannot leave pasteurized cream out at room temperature for long periods of time.

How To Make Butter From Milk

If you have fresh raw or pasteurized milk that is not homogenized (the cream has risen to the top) you can skim the cream off and use that.
You can’t, however, make butter from milk itself or from homogenized milk which has no cream to skim.

How To Make Butter In A Blender

  1. Pour room temperature cream into blender.
  2. Blend until the cream separates and watch the entire time.
  3. This can happen in a minute with a powerful blender like a Vitamix, or it can take up to 10 minutes in an older or slower blender.
  4. I recommend blending on low (if possible) if using this method. The hand mixer is much simpler, easier to clean up, and easier to get the butter out, especially as their are no sharp blades.

Substitutions & Variations

Salted Or Unsalted: Make unsalted or salted variations. This information is in the recipe card at the bottom.
Herbed Compound Butter: Add fresh or dried herbs into your butter. Or even wild ramps! This is a great way to preserve fresh herbs by making compound butters you can freeze and use throughout the year as needed.
Butter Of The Gods: Mix roasted or smoked bone marrow with your fresh butter in a 50/50 ratio and use it on steaks, roasted potatoes, roasted vegetables. Herbed butter works really well in this preparation, especially parsley, and I recommend adding salt or even smoked salt (recipe). I have a recipe for roasted bone marrow you can use.

Storage & Freezing

Butter does and will go rancid. Especially raw butter. Luckily butter can be frozen with no noticeable loss in quality.
Raw butter will last up to 3 weeks refrigerated.
The shelf life of homemade raw butter will depend on how well you washed the butter and extracted the buttermilk. If you did a poor job of this, it will likely sour within a week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoon | Calories: 3420kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 363g | Saturated Fat: 231g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g | Monounsaturated Fat: 92g | Cholesterol: 1137mg | Sodium: 272mg | Potassium: 956mg | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 14788IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 664mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Make Sour Milk From Raw Milk | Naturally Fermented Dairy - The Peasant's Daughter
  2. Hi Jana,

    Just found your website through the above article – thank you for all the detail and instructions! We’re from Northern Alberta, Canada and you’re so right about all the nonsense regarding raw milk. It’s terrible! We’ve recently started milking our cow and are getting so much cream, so we’re going to pack our freezers full with cultured butter 🙂 What a blessing! We make many raw artisan goat cheeses so are interested to look at some of your articles on raw cheesemaking.

    Take care 🙂

    ~Amberlin

    The Biegel Family: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt8hOm6iSGqNjikAVWU6D6A