How to Make Butter Using Just One Ingredient

All you need to start making your own butter is heavy cream and a Mason jar or hand mixer—you can also add any seasonings you want to create a flavored butter.

creamed butter in a bowl with hand mixer
Photo:

BHG/Andrea Araiza

Making your own butter from scratch might sound like a daunting task, but it’s really pretty simple once you break it down. The butter you buy in sticks at the grocery store is just whole milk or cream that’s been churned until it separates into fat and buttermilk. The buttermilk is drained off, and the remaining fat might have salt added to it for extra flavor. But if you want butter that tastes fresher than store-bought, you can easily repeat this same process at home (no hand-churning required). There are a few different methods you can try as you learn how to make homemade butter, and you can also dress up the finished product any way you want with salt or other seasonings like cinnamon, honey, and fresh herbs.

For each of these methods, make sure you start with at least 1 to 1½ cups of heavy cream or heavy whipping cream. Homemade butter is a great way to use up leftover ingredients, but all of your effort won’t yield very much butter if you only have a splash of cream. And if you choose to use a food processor or mixer, it’ll be tricky to blend a small amount.

The type of cream you start with will also affect the amount of butter left at the end. Heavy cream usually has more fat than whipping cream, and more fat equals more butter. 1 cup of heavy cream will probably yield about 8 tablespoons (or the equivalent of one stick) of fresh butter. You can still use whipping cream or heavy whipping cream to make butter; just know that you might end up with a little less.

How to Make Butter Using a Mason Jar

This is the simplest method for making homemade butter, and the biggest perk is that it doesn’t require any special equipment. Just pour heavy cream or heavy whipping cream into a Mason jar, screw on the lid, and start shaking. As you keep shaking, the cream will start to thicken into whipped cream. Keep going until the cream breaks—at this point it will clearly separate into solid butter and liquid buttermilk. Drain off the excess liquid, then rinse the butter under running water to remove any excess buttermilk.

Shaking the cream yourself may take 15 to 20 minutes and can turn into a real arm workout. But if you have a few friends to pass the jar around, or little ones with an interest in the kitchen, you can make this method a little easier by sharing the shaking.

How to Make Butter in a Food Processor or Mixer

Instead of shaking a jar, you can also let your kitchen tools do the work for you. Pour cream into the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blades, or into the bowl of your stand mixer. If you have a handheld mixer, pour the cream into a large bowl. Then, process or beat the cream (using your mixer’s flat beater) until the butter and buttermilk have fully separated. If you’re using a food processor, you may have to stop processing and scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times to ensure the liquids and solids completely separate. Once separated, drain off the liquid buttermilk and rinse the butter under running water.

Using a food processor or mixer is a lot faster than shaking the cream yourself—your butter should be ready in less than 10 minutes. A stand mixer or hand mixer will separate out almost all of the buttermilk, which will give you stiffer, more solid butter. A food processor might separate less buttermilk from the fat, which will make the butter a little softer.

How to Store Homemade Butter

After making butter, place it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Though it’s ok to leave store-bought butter out on the counter for a few days, homemade butter doesn’t have any added preservatives to help keep it fresh or prevent bacterial growth. It’s also important not to skip the rinsing step at the end of the butter-making process. Rinsing away extra buttermilk will help your butter stay fresh and last longer in the fridge. When properly rinsed and stored, homemade butter can last for up to three weeks.

How to Make Flavored Butters

If you want to learn how to make garlic butter, or want to use homemade butter as the starting point for honey butter, all you have to do is add your desired seasoning to the separated butter. After rinsing, add a pinch of salt to make salted butter, or add minced garlic or garlic salt to create garlic butter. For how to make honey butter, add a drizzle of honey and a pinch of salt to the butter and mix. The amount of flavorings to add will vary based on how much homemade butter you have, so you might need to experiment a little to get the flavors just right. You can also add chopped herbs, a pinch of cinnamon, a squeeze of lime, or even Parmesan cheese to homemade butter. Just use a rubber spatula to fold the seasoning into the butter, and ensure it’s mixed evenly, then use or refrigerate.

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