DIY Food

Cultured Butter at Home

March 21, 2012

Every week, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.

This week, pastry chef and blogger Ashley Rodriguez, of the blog Not Without Salt, shows us how to make cultured butter.


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I like to think that I’d be able to survive, perhaps even thrive, in a culture from generations past where laundry was done in a stream and the ingredients for dinner were a few feet from the kitchen, growing in the garden. In my mind it’s a serene little cottage where the flowers bloom in abundance, the hue of the grass rivals that of an emerald, and the vegetables grow free of bugs in perfectly formed rows.

The reality is I’d probably never do laundry (I rarely do it now with a washing machine in my home). And considering my desperate reaction when my iPhone was lost for three days this past week, I think I might have a hard time with that lifestyle. Pathetic really. Regardless of my modern needs I still do love the idea of being self-sufficient.

It thrills me to not have to rely on anything else besides myself in order to create a pantry staple. I realize that I don’t have a cow so in order to get the cream to make this homemade butter I did have to go to the store but I think you know what I mean. I get great satisfaction when I realize that something that I so often depend on the store for can be easily made at home. And, as is often the case, the homemade version is much better -- especially when the cream is allowed to meld with some tangy yogurt, culturing the cream and giving the finished butter a complex flavor that tastes as if it came directly from the farm.

The process of making homemade butter is incredibly simple. If you skip the culturing step all you need to do, essentially, is over-whip cream. The reward for culturing your cream with yogurt first for a few hours is a nuanced flavor that rivals fine European butters. What remains in the bowl after whipping is sweet, creamy butter and enough buttermilk to whip up a batch of pancakes.

My kids love to get pulled into this process eagerly watching the fat in the cream cling to itself forcing the liquid out. Perhaps they are just amusing me as the reward for their help in the kitchen is a warm slice of toast slathered with our homemade butter.


While I may enjoy the comfort of many of our modern conveniences I still imagine a life from the past where our neighbors are a herd of jersey cows who happily provide us with enough cream to make plenty of homemade butter. And really, who cares about clean clothes when the pantry is stocked with homemade butter?

Homemade Cultured Butter
makes 200g (7oz.)

1 pint heavy cream
2 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt
¼ teaspoon sea salt

(Try to find ingredients that do not have additives or stabilizers.)

Pour the cream into a jar or bowl. Add 2 tablespoons yogurt. Stir gently until well combined, then cover. Set the bowl in a warm (around 70*) spot. Leave it out for at least a couple of hours. Check it often and test for flavor. You want it to have a nice sour flavor but the intensity is up to you.


Beat the cream with a stand mixer or hand-held mixer until the buttermilk separates from the fat. Alternately you can place in a jar and shake firmly. Either mixing method will take quite a bit of time. As the butter separates from the buttermilk pour off the liquid (save it for tomorrow’s pancakes) and continue to beat, getting out as much of the buttermilk as you can.


When most of the buttermilk has been released add ½ cup very cold water and continue to mix on low. Pour off the liquid and repeat until it’s nearly clear.

While still in the bowl knead the butter by hand as you would bread dough. Pour off any remaining liquid as it accumulates. Knead in the salt. Taste and add more if desired.


At this point your butter is ready to use. I recommend reserving this special butter to be used to slather on toast and as a finishing ingredient where you’ll really be able to enjoy the flavor. It can be used in baking, although the liquid content is different than conventional butter.

Save and print this recipe here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Nancy R
    Nancy R
  • Hina Khokhar
    Hina Khokhar
  • Panfusine
  • inthebow
  • Vivilicious
Author of Date Night In (2015) and creator of the blog, Not Without Salt.


Nancy R. December 24, 2012
I do not think it will work with yogurt the reason it works with heavy cream is because you are separating out the solid butter from the cream the remaining whey liquid is very thin I add it to bread. I have never tried yogurt, I am not sure there is anything to separate out to change the main ingredient into butter. Does anyone Know?
Panfusine December 24, 2012
In India, yogurt has always been set at home , and is available commercially on a large scale only in the recent years. SInce the milk had plenty of cream, when set, the cream forms a 'creme fraiche' like layer over the yogurt. This thick layer was skimmed off, accumulated over a couple of days in the refrigerator and was then churned to make butter. Perhaps this is where the reference to Yogurt comes from.
Hina K. December 24, 2012
Oh I know about the necessity of using cream...I was talking about the step where you add 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt to the cream...I wasn't sure if Greek yogurt instead of plain yogurt would work since Greek yogurt does have some slightly different properties than regular plain yogurt.
Panfusine December 24, 2012
I'm pretty certain it wd work..Greek yogurt is definitely closer in flavor to the Indian Dahi (unless the whey part of the regular yogurt is crucial to that step)
Galapagos December 26, 2012
Yogurt, Greek yogurt, cultured buttermilk, creme fraiche... any milk product with active culture of Lactobacillus should work as the inoculum of lactose-fermenting microbes that create the sour taste desired in the cultured butter. The Lactobacilli metabolize the sugar (lactose) in the cream to lactic acid.
Hina K. December 23, 2012
Would this work with Greek yogurt?
Panfusine April 17, 2012
I combined the cream & buttermilk & whipped it in a blender with a LOT of ice. At some point, the mixture turns from a creamy viscous liquid into blobs & dilute butter milk..aggregate the blobs & you get your butter. I leave the buttermilk out to 'sour' overnight & use it for traditional Indian stews.
inthebow April 2, 2012
I made this with my 5-year-old son and it was so easy and tastes fantastic! He wanted to eat the butter like batter, and well, he did. Thanks so much!
Vivilicious March 26, 2012
Hi Ashley, love the idea of making my own butter, but I assume you need cream that has not been ultra-pasteurized? Hard to get the good stuff here in Singapore ;-(
Kitchen B. May 11, 2012
I make my own butter in Nigeria,...with pasteurised cream and its better than all the store-bought brands I've tried. I always finish with a pinch of salt....heaven!
teamom March 25, 2012
At home, we do the typical European thing - line a container with an aromatic, and let the butter develop in it. The Herb Society of America has declared 2012 the Year of the Rose. Line a ceramic pot with unsprayed rose petals, and pack the butter into it. Cover, and let it mellow.
Last year's herb was horseradish, so I lined the container with horseradish leaves. Heaven. I don't add salt to the butter, it can always be added later (salting butter is just a preservative method).
Very good basic recipe!
Nancy R. March 25, 2012
Loved your butter recipe. I have been making butter at home for years with non ultra pasturized heavy cream. It goes well with fresh baked beread. It can also be flavored I use honey and freshly grated orange rind with my cinnamon nut swirl bread. And crushed garlic, minced basil and and chives to go with my french bread and rolls. For xmas every year I crush cranberry with the ornage rind and add a bit of honey made at least a day haead of time they are delicious. I have also made speciality butters for fish and other dishes.
Ashley R. March 22, 2012
Thanks for all the lovely comments! So glad you all are as excited as I am about homemade butter. If you are doing the shaking method it will take about 10 minutes of shaking - depending on how many breaks you take in the process. Think of it more of smacking the cream against the side of the jar as shaking. You want to beat all the fat together. As soon as the buttermilk separates from the butter pour it off and continue shaking until very little buttermilk is produced. Rinse as in the directions above.
I've found homemade butter keeps for at least a week, covered in the fridge. I'm sure you can easily freeze it although I haven't tried.
Kitchen B. May 11, 2012
Hi Ashley, I don't rinse my butter with water - I'll give that a go next time but I do freeze it and it freezes beautifully. My friends are so intrigued that I make my own butter....I keep saying just how easy it is!
sianbum March 22, 2012
For people with experience shaking their butter, about how long(ish) are we talking here?
withinseason April 17, 2012
This depends a lot on your cream. I use non-homongenized, raw cream and it can vary from just a few minutes to over 10. After trying it in the food processor, that's what I always do now. Much easier to clean up afterward and really effective.
BlueKaleRoad March 22, 2012
I can't wait to make this butter! When my kids were little we made butter with the jar-shaking method. Adding some culture sounds divine! I often wish I had a cow in our backyard...dogs and chickens will suffice, though.
lastnightsdinner March 22, 2012
Love this. I haven't made butter at home in ages (I usually culture mine overnight, and I use the food processor instead of a hand/stand mixer, because it's faster and I'm impatient :) ) I think I need to make some again soon!
healthierkitchen March 22, 2012
I made butter using the shake method back when I was in kindergarten for a Thanksgiving celebration and then did it at my daughter's Colonial themed (yes we're geeks) 7th birthday party. I've also done it a couple of times at a colonial reenactment park near us where each of my kids spent an overnight as part of their third grade curriculum, and I was one of the cooking helpers. It is something to see the butter come together! It really made an impression on me when I was 5!
mcs3000 March 22, 2012
Made butter before but not like this - looking forward to trying this recipe. Ashley, did you take the pics too? They pop off the page. Gorgeous!
BavarianCook March 21, 2012
Awesome. Thank you! This will be on my list of fun things to do this weekend!!
arielleclementine March 21, 2012
loved this article, and can't wait to try the recipe! completely agree about the daydream of living off the land. i think it started when i read The Boxcar Children as a little kid...
laurend March 21, 2012
this sounds awesome and i can't wait to try making some myself! question though...i don't use lots of butter usually. what would the shelf life be like on this homemade version? and would freezing it totally kill it? thanks!
boulangere March 21, 2012
So do I. This looks wonderful. Thank you.
Panfusine March 21, 2012
It was the default way of making butter for most households in India. The procedure was a bit different though. Full Fat milk would be set into yogurt and in the process the cream that rises to the top forms a thick layer. This layer would be skimmed off from the refrigerated yogurt, (it would just cleanly separate from the yogurt), in the freezer /fridge while more was added from subsequent yogurt sessions. The collected cream would then be whipped with some chilled water to release the butter. the remaining tart buttermilk would be used up in stews & soups.
annemai March 21, 2012
I've done the shake method in a jar with my kids -- as well as a classroom full of 1st graders. Each child took a turn shaking the jars as part of a larger lesson on Thanksgiving. They loved the idea of making butter -- it opens up so many possibilities.
ALittleZaftig March 21, 2012
I didn't know you could develop the acids and aroma compounds in cultured butter so quickly. (Making cultured butter at our house is a three-day process.) I'll look forward to trying your quick method!