How to Make Butter

A few months ago I started thinking about making butter in order to make less waste (the glass jars our cream comes in are returned and reused). Then I wanted buttermilk for a recipe but wasn’t able to get it at our farmer’s market. I found out that making butter also makes buttermilk and I was surprised at how simple it is. If you have a stand mixer it takes about 10 minutes; if you don’t have one you can use any large jar with a lid and a glass marble.

If you don’t have a stand mixer, I really recommend saving up for a KitchenAid. I have this stand mixer and I can’t imagine going back to before I had it. I use it for weekly pizza night, making bread dough, cakes and cookies, pancakes etc. I also recently got the pasta roller attachment and can’t wait to try it out.

Anyway, back to butter.

How to make Homemade Butter (and Buttermilk)

You will need

  • stand mixer with wire whip and flat beater
  • cream
  • cheese cloth or mesh strainer
  • spatula
  • bowl to catch buttermilk
  • ice cold water
  • salt or minced herbs (optional)


Let the cream warm to about 60°F. (If the cream is too cold it will take longer to turn to butter but it will still work; yep I’m speaking from experience.) Pour the cream into the mixer bowl and begin beating on high (setting 8 or 10).

Pour cream into mixer bowl

Mix the cream on high

Soon you will see the cream transform to whipped cream. Take a little out if you want to use some for a treat (see the end of the post for what I did).

Whipped cream

Whipped cream

Next the whipped cream will start to look drier and more stiff.

Looking drier

Looking drier

When the mixture starts to change color (looking more pale yellow than white) add the splash guard if you haven’t yet or be ready to shut off the mixer when the cream “breaks.” As soon as it breaks into butter and buttermilk it will start splashing everywhere if you keep mixing.

Butter on whip

Place your strainer over a bowl and pour the butter and liquid into the strainer. Most of the buttermilk will fall through. Use a spatula to push as much liquid out of the butter as you can.

Strain the butter

Add the butter back to the mixer bowl and switch to a flat beater. Pour in ice cold water (not the ice though) and mix on low. The water will turn milky looking as it gets the rest of the buttermilk out of the butter. Push the butter to one side with your spatula and pour off the liquid. Repeat until the water is clear. This makes the butter last much longer as the buttermilk would spoil as quickly as milk would but butter will last much longer. If you’re going to use all the butter immediately, this step can be skipped.

Washing the butter

If you want to add salt or herbs, do it now. If you search for “flavored butter recipes” you will find dozens of great options. Then roll the butter into a log in a piece of parchment paper or fill a small ramekin. I find that if you refrigerate the butter for a little while before removing the parchment paper you will end up with a smoother stick of butter and less butter stuck to the paper.

Shape the butter

The end result: 1 oversized stick of butter, a cup of whipped cream and a cup of buttermilk. Note that this is “old fashioned buttermilk.” It can be used in baking etc. If you are used to cultured buttermilk it will not look as thick or dark as what you’re used to.

The result

The mess to clean up! Fortunately anything left on the dishes melts off quickly with a little hot water.

The mess

And lastly, a special treat!

Special treat


Here are two video demonstrations of butter making. The first is with a mixer and the second with a jar.

How to make Home Made Butter

How to Make Your Own Butter (No mixer required)