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How to make butter at home

Learn how to make butter at home that is creamy, smooth and perfectly salted (if you like that sort of thing). Take back the quality of the food you eat by learning this basic and put it to good use on everything you can dream of.

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a container of butter on a table with bread

Butter. Since the 1950’s it’s been touted as deadly food. Artery clogging, cholesterol raising saturated fat that left consumers terrified they wouldn’t live to see 60 if they ate it.

So instead of a food people had been eating for centuries that contained just one ingredient–cream from family farmed cows–Americans shifted to hexane-washed hydrogenated vegetable oils, butter consumption dropped, and trans fats ruled as disease rates spiked.

But butter is back baby.

And if you can sort through the rabbit hole of labels in the store you can easily find butter on the shelves. Is it good butter? Well, it’s not all that bad I suppose if your body can tolerate traditional dairy.

The cream used to make most butter is homogenized and pasteurized just like the milk you buy off the shelf and for some people it’s simply not digestible. You can make clarified butter, also known as ghee if you’d prefer to remove the milk solids but right now we are going all in and making our own real deal, grandma would be proud, butter.

What cream do I need to buy to make butter?

You need heavy cream or heavy whipping cream. You can find it in the dairy case with the milk in a carton. You can’t make butter from milk. My biggest issue with regular heavy whipping cream is that almost all of it contains thickeners to stabilize it for shipping and shelf life.

Horizon Organic is one brand that doesn’t have them but be prepared to pay double the cost of other brands for it if that matters to you.

For my butter making, I am using non-homogenized, low heat pasteurized local cream. I can’t get raw milk or cream here in Kentucky so this is a great compromise.

a container of non homogenized milk

Is it cheaper to make your own butter?

I think so, yes. One pound of Horizon Organic butter at Walmart is about $5.64. I bought a quart of heavy cream and made a pound of butter for about $4 plus I have the kind of cream that works for my body. That’s a win too.

How long does it take to make?

If you make your butter by hand with a jar and shake it, it may take you 10 minutes or more just to get it to solidify then you’ll need to wash and season it. I made mine in the food processor in about 5. The whole process took less than 10 minutes from start to finish.

How to make butter step by step

Step 1: Add cold cream to a food processor fitted with a blade. You can also do this in a Mason jar or in a bowl with a hand mixer. It just takes longer. Beat on high until your cream thickens (this is how you make whipped cream) about 2 minutes.

Step 2: Your whipped cream will start to get chunky and thick but will still be pale white in color and solid. You need to keep mixing it until the buttermilk separates from the cream.

how to make butter at home with pictures of using a food processor

Step 3: Keep beating until you hear and see the butter start to clump together, turn deeper yellow and the white buttermilk separates from the fat. 5 to 6 minutes total.

Step 4: Transfer the butter to a colander. You can save the buttermilk if you want to use it for other recipes or drain it away. Using your hands, squeeze the butter and get out as much of the buttermilk as you can. You can also put it in a clean towel and squeeze.

Step 5: Rinse your butter under cold water, kneading it and turning it over and over until the water runs clear. Make sure you aren’t just rinsing the surface. Mash it as you rinse.

Step 6: Transfer your butter to the counter and add 1 teaspoon salt if you want to use it and knead it in. I used pink sea salt but if you want to use a different one (like table salt) use less and taste as you go. I literally put my butter on the counter and mashed and kneaded the salt in until it was distributed evenly.

Step 7: Transfer your butter to an air tight container. Butter is highly sensitive to odors and absorbs them like crazy. If you want your butter to taste good, it must be sealed in something air tight. I like containers like this for the job.

How long does homemade butter last?

Butter will last up to a month in your refrigerator.

Recipes to use your butter

Compound butters are amazing. You can add all kinds of flavors and use them for sweet or savory dishes. Try these recipes.

You may also like:

a container of butter on a table with bread

How to Make Butter at Home

Creamy, smooth and made with ingredients you can control, it's time to make butter you'll love.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 20
Author Rachel Ballard


  • food processor, hand mixer or jar



  • In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, add the cream and process on high until the buttermilk separates from the butter. About 5 to 6 minutes. If you use a jar or hand mixer, expect this process to take longer.
  • Transfer the butter to a colander. You can save the buttermilk if you would like.
  • Squeeze the butter and get out as much of the buttermilk as possible. Rinse under cold water, turning and mashing the butter until the water runs clear.
  • Transfer the butter to a bowl or on to the counter and add salt. If using a different salt (like table salt) use half as much and taste as you go until your butter is salted to your taste.
  • Transfer the butter to an air tight container for up to one month.


Calories: 164kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 134mgPotassium: 36mgSugar: 1gVitamin A: 700IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 31mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
Course easy, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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    1. Hi Chanel, just put it in a jar and stick it in the fridge and use it in place of milk or other liquid in baking recipes (that’s most popular). It’s great as an acid in a chocolate cake! Store it in the coldest part of your fridge (lowest shelf far in the back) and it will keep for about two weeks. –Rachel

    2. Hi Deborah, Buttermilk is made by churning heavy cream until it separates and the buttermilk forms. If you want to buy buttermilk alone, you can get that at grocery stores. No dairy will have buttermilk but they will have cream that you can use to make butter and through that process make buttermilk.

  1. How does it freeze? Can you make a batch and freeze some for later? As a household of just 2 we don’t use a whole lot of butter all the time but do like to use it.

    If it can be frozen how do you thaw for use and how long?

    I would probably be using either a ziploc bag that can have all the air taken out (foodsaver bags with a special valve hole and ziplock) after it’s frozen so that it doesn’t deform. Would glass in the freezer be better or even plastic?

    1. While I have frozen lots of butter, I’ve never frozen my homemade. Tips I can give you though: 1) Make sure you rinse out as much of the buttermilk as possible so you don’t get ice crystals in your butter when it freezes 2) Wrap your butter in plastic wrap and then put the butter in to an air tight container like a Lock and Lock container. Butter absorbs flavors from the air like crazy and it can take on the freezer’s flavor pretty fast. 3) Thaw it on the counter or in the fridge either way. 4) Freeze your butter for up to 3 or 4 months max. I hope that helps. –Rachel

  2. Not sure what heavy whipping cream you’re looking at. All of the heavy whipping cream at my store contains a combined MAX of 0.5% mono- and triglycerides, polysorbate 80, and carrageenan.

    1. Hey William,
      How did you come to that “combined max” percentage? While we know that ingredients are listed in order of amount, you don’t really have a way to calculate that number. You’re welcome to eat whatever kind of cream you want, but for me–I prefer cream the way it comes out of the cow–after all, these additives seem trivial to you but by the end of the day you can eat an awful lot of them between all of your meals. It adds up. –Rachel

  3. Thanks for this recipe – we are lucky to be on a dairy farm here in Australia, and had given up making my own butter as it was so messy. This is certain a better way!! I now have an abundance of buttermilk – do all your recipes that use buttermilk use this, or a bought buttermilk?? Is there a lot of difference?? What are your go-to recipes for the leftover buttermilk?? Phew – a lot of questions there!!
    Thanks, Jacqui

    1. Hey Jacqui, you can use the buttermilk from making butter any way you choose. Personally I prefer cultured buttermilk which is an extra step with the milk itself that involves adding either a bit of a probiotic capsule or a dash of store bought cultured buttermilk to it and letting it sit out on the counter for a few hours, then in to the fridge until thickened and tangy. I use buttermilk to brine fried chicken and in my southern cornbread. It’s also delicious in buttermilk ranch dressing! You can find the cornbread and fried chicken recipes here on the site using the search box. Let me know if you have any other questions! –Rachel

  4. I love the idea of making my own butter. I really want to buy organic at the store but it is so expensive. I do have a question though. I am a rebel of sorts and leave my butter on the counter so that it can be soft when using. Would this even be a consideration if making it homemade? I do buy a brand that says butter and salt as the only ingredients but who can trust labels these days.

    1. Hey Penny–yes you can leave it out. If you make the full amount in this recipe I would recommend only taking out half at a time and leaving the other half in the fridge until you need it. You could shape your own sticks if you will and wrap them in parchment then put them in an air tight container and only take out a stick at a time. 😉 –Rachel

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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.