Introduction: How to Make Butter

Picture of How to Make Butter

In 90 seconds, a stand mixer can break 1 cup (about .25 L) of cream down into the butter and buttermilk stage.

Like a lot of people, the first time I made butter, it was an accident. I was whipping some cream and got distracted. I got back just in time to see the whipped cream separate into butter and buttermilk. (Hmmmm... I don't think that ever happened with the powered whip cream mix Mom bought.- I love you Mom, but you know - you and cooking = Pellegrino and Crisco.)

I was bummed that I screwed up the whip cream, but It was still really cool how it became butter in just seconds. So I started making butter at home and I'd thought I'd show you how I do it.

I always find that these kinds of things are a lot easier, and less intimidating, if you can watch someone do it. So watch the video and you can see me make butter, start to finish, in real time, with no editing. It's not as messy as it looks in the video - unless you are making a video of yourself doing it.

In the video I use 2 cups (a little less than .5 L) of cream so it takes twice as long. You will see the cream break down at about 3 minutes. Because I didn't use the splash guard, I also couldn't run the mixer at full speed.

With washing, it only takes a little over 9 minutes to go from 100% Heavy Cream to finished homemade butter. That's probably faster than it would take Usain Bolt to run to the corner store, buy a pound of butter (with free Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 80 and Carrageenan) and run back home.

These are the ingredients.
Manufacturing Cream (or Heavy Cream)
Sea Salt (optional)

These are the tools I used:
Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
Wire whisk attachment
Beater attachment
Splash guard - Omitted in video - you'll see why it's important
(ew, i think there is butter in my hair, yummm, yep it's butter.)
Ice water
Parchment paper or Plastic wrap

Step 1: How to Do It

Picture of How to Do It
How to do it.

When I went to buy cream at Smart and Final (restaurant supply that is open to the public) I saw "Manufacturing Cream". I didn't know what it was, but it was a little higher in fat than Heavy Cream. It was only pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized, and the only ingredient in it was "Heavy Cream".

I bought a 2 quart (1.89 L) carton for $7.

I researched it and found out "Manufacturing Cream" is the cream restaurants and bakeries use for baking and cooking (the names of types of milk/cream are different all over - even from state to state. I'm in California.) It does not have all the additives like Ultra-Pasteurized Cream. The flavor is very good. It doesn't last as long as regular ultra-pasteurized heavy cream though.

In the video I'm using 2 cups of cream. I went ahead and weighed the cream, and then the finished butter, so you could see how much butter I got out of it.

Before: 2 Cups (a little less than .5 L) Cream = 1 lbs = 16 ounces = 450g
After: Butter: 7 ounces = 198g
Total cost was $1.75 (sorry, don't know how many €'s, or £'s, or Can$'s or Aus$'s, or ¥'s, etc. that is)

Almost half of the cream was butter.

You want the cream to be between 61°F (16°C) and 65°F (18°C) to get it to separate fast.

I usually do 1 cup (about .25 L) of cream at a time, and it takes about 90 seconds to separate.

I put the cream in the mixer with the wire whisk. If you have a splash guard - USE IT. I left it off in the video so you could see what was happening. The camera, my kitchen, and I, all got splattered with buttery goodness.

It will whip into whip cream, and right after it gets to firm peaks, it will start to separate. SLOW the mixer down, or it will make a mess and splash all over the place - even with the splash guard. Just let it run another 5-10 seconds.

Then switch to the beater blade. If you stay with the whisk, the butter clumps up inside the whisk and is very hard to get out.

Beat the butter on a slow speed for about 10 seconds to let it finish separating. Using a spatula, squish the butter into a lump in the bowl, then pour the buttermilk off. You can use this buttermilk for baking. Some people like to drink it.

Now wash the butter to get all the buttermilk out. If you leave buttermilk in your butter it won't last nearly as long. If you are the kind of folks who like to leave butter out at room temperature, you might find that it has gone rancid if you leave any buttermilk in it.

Add some ice water to the bowl and beat it on low for around 10 seconds.

Use your spatula to squish the butter into a lump again then pour the water off.

Keep repeating the rinse process until you get clear water.

I do the last wash by hand. Pour in some ice water and squish the butter around to see if you can get any more milk.

Pour that water out. Squish the butter around some more to squeeze out any water that is in the butter. We don't want to leave any water suspended in the butter. Keep squishing it and pouring off any water you get until you don't get any more water - about 3 times for me.

That's it. You have butter.

If you like whipped butter, you can just put it back on the mixer and beat it on high, for a minute or two. If I want salted butter, I put some sea salt in while it is whipping. About a 1/4-1/3 tsp per cup of cream.

Whipped butter spreads easier and melts faster. If you use whipped butter for baking - you cannot measure it by volume. You can only measure it by weight. Because we whipped air into it - 1/4 cup of regular butter will be about 1/3rd cup of whipped butter (depending on how much air you whip into it). You smart Europeans, who bake by weight already, need not worry.

(The video is available in High Quality - It's easier to see the splattering of butter all over me and my kitchen)

Step 2: Wrap It Up for Storage

Picture of Wrap It Up for Storage

I wrap it up in Parchment Paper then freeze or refrigerate it.

Parchment Paper is used by bakers to line pans so they don't have to grease them. It is also great for things like this. You can buy it at a grocery store. It will be with the plastic wrap and foil.

You can save some butter to use, and then package the rest for freezing.

I put the unwrapped glob of butter on the Parchment, and stick it in the freezer for about 5 minutes. This is to firm the butter up, so when I squish it around to shape it, it doesn't get the paper all gooey.

After you put it in the freezer, lick your fingers and say "Yuuummmm".

I wash my hands, then take it out of the freezer, roll it into a cylinder inside the paper, then I squish the paper tube of butter until I get it the size I like. I then unroll it again to straighten out the paper.

You know when you unwrap a cube of butter, and an edge of the wrapper is embedded in the hard butter? You try to pull it out very very carefully, but you still end up with that &*%$**# little piece of paper embedded in your butter. That's why you unroll it and straighten out the paper.

Now roll it back up. You can twist the ends like a du.. jo... well, you know, one of those things you share with friends on Saturday night that makes things like butter taste so so so very good. Or you can just fold the edges over. Then put it back in the freezer.

You now have delicious, no additives, nothing artificial, as fresh as can be without owning a cow, homemade butter.

Hope you like it. Now I have to clean this smudge off my glasses. Yummm butter...

Step 3: Using a Buttermold

Picture of Using a Buttermold

Maybe you have friends coming over for dinner. You want to offer your homemade butter, but you don't want your friends double dipping in your wonderful fresh butter.

How can you prevent Double Dipping?

Use a butter mold to make individual portions.

You can get butter molds in all kinds of different shapes. The original ones were metal and usually shaped like a shell.

I recommend you use a silicone mold. There are silicone molds for butter, but you can also use any silicone molds used to make ice cubes, candies or mini muffins. You could also just use a plastic ice tray. Only fill the ice tray about 1/3 to 1/2 full to make a nicely sized individual servings.

I've uploaded some photos of me putting butter into a fish shaped silicone ice tray.

I just push the butter into the mold with a spatula. Then I whack the bottom of the mold onto the counter. This is to push the butter down into the mold and squeeze out any air pockets. Top the mold off, and then put it into the freezer.

When you are ready to serve dinner, pop an individual butter pat onto each plate.


JulieB126 made it! (author)2016-03-17

made this for the first time worked out perfectly! I used the butter milk the next morning to make Buttermilk biscuits delicious!

jeislly321 (author)2015-12-01

wow cool

sandy.flynn.735 (author)2015-04-22

This looks like a old site but maybe I will get a answer. I access to fresh farm milk and have just made my first batch of butter. However it was a ton of shaking. Could I use a commercial paint shaker to mix butter or would it be to violent a shake?

makingtracks (author)2014-03-13

Amazingly simple. Thank you for including a video. Personally, I learn better by demonstration rather than reading a list of instructions so this will help me a LOT. I doubt I will be able to find the Manufacturing Cream at our little rural grocery store, but I do have a friend with a milk cow, so I'll hit him up for some fresh milk this weekend and give this a try! :). Will report back and hopefully have a photo or two to share.

gplemmons (author)2013-03-03

THank you for your video, HOWEVER, I am still having trouble, I tried small amounts of cream from my cows, tried 58 degrees, tried everything, my blender makes the butter in no time, but I bought the kitchen aid so I could make if faster. What am I doing wrong. it just whips and whips and whips, NO BUTTER.
please help thank you in advance

jakyo (author)2012-04-05

what a fab idea. I will be trying that 4 sure ! Thank you .(the video was entertaining and you got the whole thing across with a lighthearted approach ;-O

franinmuc (author)2011-12-05

Thank you soooo much for sharing. I don't have a Kitchen Aid but bought a Bosch MUM 8 yesterday online and still have to wait for it to arrive. And I can't wait that long! Since someone mentioned a food processor, I am going to try this out immediately. In the last 8 years I have watched the price of butter (among other things) climb every year before my eyes. Sigh!

franinmuc (author)franinmuc2011-12-06

Update ... I went into the kitchen to get out my food processor and suddenly it dawned on me that I have a handheld mixer which comes with a beater attachment to make whipped cream. There is also a tall plastic container to do this in. So I opened a packet of whipping cream with 30% fat and poured it in. It was at room temperature. In 5 min I had butter. The 'washing' part went really quickly. Pressing the butter was tough. Had a piece of bread with butter already and am happy to report, this was a painless process. No mess, very easy clean-up. If you don't need large quantities, I would recommend doing it this way. From a 200ml packet of whipped cream I got about roughly 70 gr butter. Can't be exact cos I had already spread my slice of bread generously with my home-made butter. Here's a photo as proof! Thanks again SFHandyman!

Plasmana (author)2008-10-29

It seems like a lot more work to make butter than buying butter from the store...

SFHandyman (author)Plasmana2008-11-11

But I'm a Maker. For me it isn't about saving money. It's the fun you can have while making something great.

Plasmana (author)SFHandyman2008-11-14

Sorry, yeah, it does look fun to make your own...

man c'mon keep stupid comments for urself, Why cook at home go to MD or buy carcinogenic ready meals packed in plastic container containing BPA

SFHandyman (author)Plasmana2008-11-14

No apology necessary. I think it's automatic for us to all think that way initially.

Inquisitively (author)Plasmana2011-08-01

It is, but often times it tastes better because you did it yourself. Generally, when you work for something, you enjoy the end result more.

jali5 (author)2011-08-13

Do you think I could make a big batch and freeze the buttermilk and butter?

jali5 (author)2011-08-13

This is awesome! I can't wait to make this! Plus I like the idea of adding garlic powder or anything else for that matter. You can just be creative. Thanks for sharing!

mtulk (author)2011-05-01

I don't have a stand mixer, so I used my food processor. To my surprise, it took only about 50 seconds for the cream to separate. I used whipping cream (35%) A friend of mine had tried it with table cream but it didn't work. I used less than ¼ tsp of salt to salt 8 oz. of butter. I also made a batch with garlic powder, to make a very nice garlic butter. It is great fun to make, and considering the present price of whipping cream, the price is about break-even with factory butter.

Eberg13 (author)2010-02-07

I made it with a kitchenaid using the paddle attachment because I knew the butter would get all wound around the wisk and be hard to get at. I didn't bother washing, but just hand squeezed the liquid and packed in a ball jar. It is still yummy. Could someone explain what the washing is all about. If it is just to make it look more like manufactured butter, I fail to see why it would be important.

Also, what is a good salt to pint ratio? And has anyone tried making flavored butter during the process? I am thinking cinnamon or orange or something that uses spices or extracts.

osoriocj (author)Eberg132011-01-21

When I was a kid, my mother boiled whole milk that we drank to prevent disease.
After boiling and cooling, formed a thick cream that my mother removed and froze.
Once gathered about a quart of cream, I was asked to make butter. I used a bowl and a wooden spoon to beat the cream. After beating the cream for about 30 minutes it was forming lumps. A little more time for the butter to form.
After this I put a bit of cold water to wash it, taking care not to wash several times to avoid losing flavor.
The cream was thicker than what is presented in the film and the lumps formed soon.
In the washing step, you should mix the butter slowly to prevent water from aggregating it.

TechNerd1012 (author)Eberg132010-09-05

As he said, if there is any residual buttermilk left in the butter, the butter wont last quite as long.

dchall8 (author)2009-08-27

Well that was hilarious! Not your Instructable, but me trying to make butter. After 1.5 hours it finally happened. BUTTER in my very own kitchen. I think my big mistake was thinking I had made whipped butter when in fact all it was was very thick (buttery??) whipped cream. But then it happened. All of a sudden there was butter and there was buttermilk. There's no mistaking when that happens. Thank you for making the video. I would not have had nearly as much fun making it without the encouragement and confidence of seeing it happen.

SFHandyman (author)dchall82009-08-27

It is really cool the first time you see it separate. Unless you are trying to make whipped cream, then you are likely to swear a little bit.

TechNerd1012 (author)SFHandyman2010-09-05


Kwitmeh3 (author)2010-06-30

Wow, i was trying to make whipped cream and ended up with butter

me94 (author)2010-01-05

Hi I got some cream from the farm. I used my mixer on low looked great the next  time looked it was turning back to milk . The next time I used buttermilk  it was on low looked good then i add some sugar & it went to milk. What am i doing wrong HELP 

wagnerkr (author)me942010-05-01

Make sure you are using heavy cream and not light cream. Light cream is mixed back with milk to be more like half & half. Heavy cream has enough fat in it to be able to separate into butter and liquid. Do NOT use buttermilk - this has had the butter already removed and is often cultured (think yogurt w/ its friendly little bacterias aka pro-biotics). Buttermilk is great for acid indigestion but it will not make butter.  

tabbique (author)2010-01-22

Don't despair if it takes your mixer/blender a little longer to make the whipped cream separate.  It took our cuisinart about 10-15 min to whip the cream into stuff that was starting to separate.  After that, another 5-10 min on a lower setting to finish separating it.  After that it was buttery goodness!  We put ours in the fridge to harden a bit before kneading and washing.  Use the buttermilk to make kefir or in pancakes :)  no waste!

SFHandyman (author)tabbique2010-01-30

As an experiment, I tried to use a hand held blender. It didn't work. As soon as it started to separate the area above the blades next to the handle filled up with butter and stopped all circulation of the cream. It wouldn't finish, and even if it did, I wouldn't be able to wash it using the blender.

Thanks for sharing the info. That helps everyone.

andwmi (author)SFHandyman2010-02-03

I use a hand held mixer to make butter.  When it gets to that point I turn off the mixer and use a large wooden spoon to start mashing it into a ball.  It does take about 20 minutes for me to do it this way though.  Also, it is easier to keep the buttermilk for biscuits when I do it this way. :)

missplumeau (author)2010-01-20

 I just made my first batch using "Organic Valley" heavy cream. I could not find any of the brands mentioned in your instructable or comments [I used to live in the Bay Area and I MISS so many of the great resources there! I now live in Yankeeland: CT].
I used the only mixing tool available in my house: a hand mixer and a tall cup. that made a fine mess but the result is so delicious.... never mind it took way longer to clean up than to make!!
Next time I HAVE to dig my mixer out of the moving boxes [I am doing major renovation in the house]
Thank you!!

Romaida (author)2009-09-03

Great instructable! I'm going to make it soon... where can I buy manufacturing cream here in the Metro Detroit area? What color does the butter end up being? I want to use it for frosting but would like to get a white color.

SFHandyman (author)Romaida2009-09-03

Butter is butter yellow. The color in my photos is accurate. Margarine was originally white but they gave you a little dye pack to die it yellow. When you whip up a white frosting with butter, you can't see the yellow. The tiniest bit of blue food coloring can make it look a little whiter. But just a tiny bit. A drop is too much. I'd dip a toothpick in the food color and then just touch the tip of the toothpick to the frosting. Look for a restaurant or bar supply market. Some are not open to the public so you might not be able to find it. Most people use Heavy Cream and it works fine.

Poochacho (author)2009-06-24

Actually my family in India makes it much the same but with a blender! This is great - I can't wait to try it!

MistaX32 (author)2009-01-03

Wow that's neat. I didn't know you were into cooking too, I'm gonna try that out first thing in the morning. By the way, how long does the butter, given that(as you say) remove all the buttermilk remain fresh/edible? Nice instructable, didn't it was that easy, thanks.

SFHandyman (author)MistaX322009-01-04

I don't know how long it lasts. I think it must be the same as butter from the store. I've never had any go bad. Because you can make it as you need it, you don't really end up with too much sitting around. I don't leave it out of the fridge for more than a couple of days though. I'm not really into cooking. I do like to bake and make candy, but I think more because it's like chemistry. I love figuring out how to transform one material into another i.e. getting butter out of cream. I'm glad you liked it.

treep1 (author)2008-10-27

BTW - as one possible explanation of why your video hasn't been watched. I didn't watch your video because I'm on dial-up. I could eat a pound of butter in the time it would take me to download the video.

treep1 (author)2008-10-27

I've done this before but never knew about rinsing the additional buttermilk out. Thanks for the info! I love home made bread with home made butter. There's no more pleasing way to raise your cholesterol!

AttackingHobo (author)2008-10-23

A more fun way for kids to do is just put some heavy cream in a closed jar and have them shake it till it becomes butter and buttermilk.

SFHandyman (author)AttackingHobo2008-10-25

Certainly an option if you have some hyper pre-teens you want to distract. I've read, if they are too little to shake the jar, they can just roll it back and forth.

ERNesbitt (author)SFHandyman2008-10-26

We used to put a marble in a tupperware container with the cream and shook it back and forth until we couldn't hear the marble rattle anymore.

codwithchips (author)2008-10-23

hi iam in ireland & i make butter every xmass&no; mess if you like home made bread you can use the butter milk for it makes very nice soda or brown bread& if you do this you will never want to go back to shop bought bread again this is also great with boiled potatoes&baked; pots, try it for your self, codwithchips

SFHandyman (author)codwithchips2008-10-25

They all sound excellent. I also like Buttermilk Corn Bread. Buttermilk Pancakes are great too (Although they are too heavy for me - they do taste great)

Master James (author)2008-10-23

I think this is a very good project for the kids & mama to do together on a rainy weekend! I applaud you in writing this;I have found it to be very informative,easy to follow directions,etc.

SFHandyman (author)Master James2008-10-25

A loaf of fresh baked bread and homemade butter on a rainy day? Ahhhh. (I use a bread machine though so that isn't hard at all).

golden snake (author)2008-10-24

very nice job on an instructable 5/5 but i wonder why your video doesn't have a lot of views?

SFHandyman (author)golden snake2008-10-25

YouTube doesn't count the views when a video is embedded in another website. It only counts views at their site. The views that show up there are just accidental discoveries. I don't promote the videos there, just store them for my Instructables. The Braids have had almost 19 thousand hits but the video view count is only 5,700 for the first one. Those numbers just crept up over time as people stumbled across them. I'm glad you liked the Instructable. Thanks

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