Homemade everything is on the rise these days (yes, that is a bread pun), but don’t stop at sourdough starter and dalgona coffee—if you have a blender, homemade butter is ridiculously easy. Here’s how to make butter both with and without a blender. Either way, it only takes one ingredient. Two if you count salt.
Why Make Butter at Home?
Right now, it’s probably because you can’t find any at the store. But it also happens that homemade butter tastes amazingly fresh (go figure). And you can’t discount the sense of satisfaction that comes from any DIY project.
Here’s a quick overview of how it works, but find more helpful notes and caveats below:
Vitamix A2300 Series Ascent Blender, $449.95 at Williams Sonoma
Any blender will make butter, but a famously high-powered model will do it faster.
Is Homemade Butter Worth It?
It depends on several factors, including but not limited to: how hard up you are for butter between grocery orders, how much you loved “Little House on the Prairie,” how good homemade butter tastes, and how much it costs. We can speak to those last two issues, at least.
Be aware that homemade butter will only taste as good as the cream you use to make it—and ultra-pasteurized cream doesn’t have a ton of flavor compared to the fresh cream little Laura Ingalls Wilder would have worked in the butter churn. You will end up with a mild, fresh, sweet cream butter (you can add salt if you like) that sedimental calls “better than anything you can buy at the grocery store,” but don’t expect any nutty tones or grassy tang.
For a richer flavor, you can make cultured butter at home by allowing fresh cream to sour a bit, but don’t try that with ultra-pasteurized cream (because its good bacteria has been killed off already and you could make yourself sick). A happy medium may be to mix 1 tablespoon sour cream or crème fraîche into 1 cup of cream and let it sit overnight (in the fridge) before letting it come to room temp before you blend your butter. Another tip from acgold7: look for “vat pastuerized” cream, which still has some enzymes and beneficial bacteria.
Homemade butter may also end up being more expensive in the long run. (There’s actually a book about smart ways to save money in the kitchen called “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter”…) But if you remain undaunted, read on!
What Do You Need to Make Homemade Butter?
A fine mesh strainer is handy for making sure all the water is squeezed out of your butter, but if you don’t have one, cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel will work too.
Homemade Butter Tips
- Start with room temperature cream; if it’s too cold, it will take a lot longer to turn into butter.
- When you make butter at home, you also end up with fresh buttermilk, but be aware that it’s not the same thing as the acidic buttermilk you buy at the store. You can still use fresh buttermilk in place of regular milk in recipes that include baking powder (like pancakes or quick bread), but it won’t have a tangy flavor, nor will it react with baking soda like store-bought buttermilk. Chowhound Coogles suggests using fresh buttermilk in place of water in yeasted bread recipes.
- Adding a bit of crème fraîche or sour cream can make for a more richly flavored butter, and at least a small pinch of salt will also make it taste better.
Steps to Making Butter in a Blender:
1. Pour 1 cup of room temperature heavy cream into a blender. Add a pinch of salt or more to taste, if using.
2. Blend on medium speed until the butter and buttermilk begin to separate. This may happen fairly quickly in a high-powered blender, or could take up to 10 minutes or more. You’re looking for the cream to break and separate into two layers: solid yellow specks and clumps, and a cloudy liquid.
3. When the butterfat and buttermilk have separated, turn off the blender and let sit for a minute to allow the two layers to settle. Pour off the buttermilk (see tips above for what to do with it).
4. Wash the butter. Pour 1 cup cold water into the blender and pulse a few times, then allow the layers to settle again and pour off the cloudy water (don’t save this liquid). Repeat a few times until the water runs clear. This removes all traces of buttermilk that would otherwise sour in a few days and make your butter go bad.
5. Place butter in a fine mesh strainer and spread around with a wooden spoon, pressing to squeeze off any excess water. You can also manually squeeze the butter in a couple layers of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel. The butter should clump together in one mass when all the water is gone.
6. Scrape the butter onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a log or disc, then store in the fridge. You can also press it into a butter mold (or something less traditional, like “Star Wars” ice cube trays or whatever else tickles your fancy).
If you prefer softer, spreadable butter, store it in a butter bell, butter crock, or butter keeper:
Butter Bell Ceramic Butter Crock, $24.95 on Amazon
Store butter at room temperature with this ceramic crock; you add water to form an air-tight seal.
For a compound butter that’s great on meat, fish, veggies, and bread, use a wooden spoon to blend the soft, freshly made butter with garlic and/or herbs. Or simply mix with honey for a sweet toast spread; maple syrup, orange zest, and cinnamon is another nice combo.
Read more about making cultured butter if you prefer fermented flavors.
And if you’re trying to cut back on animal products, you can make vegan butter in a blender too:
How to Make Butter without a Blender
You can perform the same basic process as above in a stand mixer or food processor, or in a large bowl with a handheld electric beater or mixer (though a blender’s tall, narrow shape makes it best suited to the job).
But if you don’t have any of those appliances, you can also achieve the same end result with a large jar and about 30 minutes of shaking. Consider it your home workout for the day:
Or, if this all sounds like far too much trouble, see what you can substitute for butter when you’re out.
Header image by Chowhound