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Homemade Butter and Cultured Buttermilk using Heavy Cream

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Guys, this is the real deal. Homemade butter and homemade buttermilk using heavy cream.

Make homemade butter and buttermilk at the same time.

It’s basically a two-fer. When you make butter, you get buttermilk as a by product. What a beautiful thing! Especially considering the whole process takes about 15 minutes all said on done thanks to modern kitchen tools.

Go modern or go old school.

Your choice. You can use a blender, a food process or a mixer. Or, if you’re a gluten for punishment, you can use an old fashion butter churn like we do. 🙂 The kids think it’s fun and I tell myself that I’m burning calories in order to feel justified when I slather a piece of bread with butter and chow down.

Believe it or not, you can actually purchase butter churns on Amazon.

If you’re trying to just get some homemade butter stat though, you might just want to go ahead and use a stand mixer or a food processor.

Homemade Butter in 15 Minutes

It’s really easy to make homemade butter and doesn’t take a lot of time either.

Check out this step by step video showing the process:

Cheesecloth is helpful for making homemade butter.

So once you sort out what tool you want to use to make your butter and buttermilk, you’re truly half way there. Just beat the heavy cream until is separates, pour off the buttermilk and save it for something yummy (ideas below).

Then you’ll need to rinse and knead the butter to get out the rest of the buttermilk. The best way to do this is using cheesecloth. Some recipes will tell you to press it out with a spoon but I have a hard time imagining how that works. You’ve got to really knead the butter fat to get all the milk out, then rinse it several times under cold water. Cheesecloth acts as a strainer for you to do that really easily. You can buy cheesecloth at some groceries stores or online. Shop cheesecloth on Amazon.

What happens if you don’t get all the buttermilk out of your butter?

Basically, bad things. You want to take a little extra time to make sure you squeeze all the buttermilk out.

Why though? Well, first, you don’t want your butter to be milky because this will make things like your toast soggy instead of nice and crispy. Second, the buttermilk will start to go bad quickly. So guess what happens to your butter then? Yup. It starts to taste rancid. Not good if you’re going for the creamy, salty butter taste.

Can you make butter out of pasteurized heavy cream?

In short, yes. But there’s a looooong answer to this because you need to understand that pasteurization is a process that heats raw milk to get rid of certain bacteria and ultimately makes the milk last longer on the shelf. Some argue that nutrients are also lost with the pasteurization process. You can read more about pasteurization as well as homogenization here.

Depending on what state you live in, you may be able to find a small market or local dairy farm that sells raw milk if you’re interested in getting the health benefits of raw milk and are not afraid of the risks. Read more about the risks of consuming raw milk here.

So, now that you’re more familiar with pasteurization, you need to know that the pasteurization process does not prevent the natural separation process that happens when you churn heavy cream.

Pasteurized or not, the fat or cream, separates from the milk. The reason this separation occurs is because the membranes surrounding the fat in milk are very fragile and they rupture when agitated (source). Once the membranes are rupture, the fat can attach to other fat and eventually begins to form clumps, leaving behind the milk.

Since pasteurized heavy cream does no contain cultures, some say you don’t get as buttery of a taste as you would using raw milk, or when you add cultures back in. However, it’s still quite yummy so you can choose whether or not to take the extra step of adding cultures.

So what about buttermilk? Can buttermilk be made from pasteurized heavy cream?

Yes and no. I’ll explain. But first you’ll be curious to know that the buttermilk you can buy at the store is actually not necessarily real buttermilk. Shocker, I know. I was surprised to learn this myself. The reason though, goes back to pasteurization.

The pasteurization process kills harmful bacteria but it also kills active cultures that contain helpful bacteria. You’ve probably heard them called pro-biotics. There are a number of drinks now you can buy that have been re-cultured after pasteurization in order to re-gain those pro-biotics.


So, in a similar way, you can re-culture your buttermilk if you want to sour it naturally. You can purchase culture starters and add them to your buttermilk, follow the instructions for fermenting and you’ll have wonderfully soured buttermilk in two or three days.

Another way to add live cultures to your buttermilk is by using a product you can find at most grocery stores called Kefir. You just need to stir in  a small amount into your buttermilk. Then cover your container of buttermilk with cheesecloth or a cotton shirt so it gets air but keeps dust and particles out, and let it sit out and ferment for two to three days.

You can also just use buttermilk as soon as you separate it from your butter fat, it will just taste more like milk than the more tart cultured buttermilk.

Can I just add lemon juice or vinegar to the leftover milk to make buttermilk?

You could and that’s a good hack if you don’t want to deal with culturing and all that. But it’s not true buttermilk. True buttermilk goes through a chemical process and produces a different taste and a thicker texture.

When you culture your buttermilk, the fermentation process actually transforms lactose, or sugars found in the milk, into lactic acid. By the way, lactic acid is much easier to digest than lactose, which is appealing if you are lactose intolerant.

So if you’re really after the authentic flavor and smooth, creamy texture of buttermilk, then culturing the milk leftover from making butter, is the way to go. Also if you are lactose intolerant, you may find that cultured buttermilk is easier on your stomach.

Okay, so remind me then how do I culture buttermilk?

You need to add the cultures back into the milk if you’re using pasteurized heavy cream for this recipe. Or buttermilk can be made using raw milk which already contains live cultures.

However, it can be difficult to find raw dairy so you’re only choice may be to use pasteurized heavy cream, and then add cultures back in. You can buy starter cultures for a variety of uses and follow the direction on the package in order to ferment your buttermilk!

Shop starter cultures on Amazon or purchase Kefir from your grocery store. You’ll find it near the yogurt. You want the non-flavored Kefir. It’s actually similar to yogurt but contains live cultures.

Bet you didn’t know this was going to be so complicated.

Luckily making butter and buttermilk is not complicated, but understanding how it all work is pretty complex!

Recipe ideas using homemade butter and buttermilk.

Since homemade butter doesn’t last as long as store bought, you’ll want to use it up quick or freeze it in batches. Try making my chocolate buttercream frosting with homemade butter and see what you think!

It’s also great for everyday cooking. Browse all my recipes to get ideas!

As far as the buttermilk, well you could make buttermilk pancakes. But that’s kinda boring don’t you think? Why not try using your buttermilk to make something a little different! Try my creamed roast beef with Yorkshire pudding? Or my loaded potato soup.

You may also like these popular recipes.

This recipe for butter and buttermilk was featured on Sew It Craft It Cook It and The Country Cook!

How to Make Butter and Buttermilk from Heavy Cream

Homemade Butter and Buttermilk using Heavy Cream

Homemade Butter and Buttermilk using Heavy Cream

Ever wondered how to make homemade butter or buttermilk? Here's a complete tutorial for how to make both. Elevate your cooking with these two homemade ingredients.
Author: Angela G.
5 from 1 review
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Cuisine: American
Skill Level: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings
Yield: 2 cups


  • 4 cups heavy cream 32oz
  • Salt to taste
  • For buttermilk: Culture starters or use non-flavored Kefir


  • Pour carton on heavy cream into a food processor, blender, or butter churn. Blend for about 10 minutes or until the fat separately completely from the liquid milk. You should see two distinctly different substances and then you know you're ready for the next step.
  • Next, drain the milk into a mason jar. This is your buttermilk! If using pasteurized heavy cream, then you will need to add starter cultures to sour the milk. See above post for more info.
  • Once you've drained all the milk, you'll want to rinse the fat to flush any extra hidden milk from it. This prevents the butter from being too watery and as well as from spoiling quickly.
  • The easiest way to rinse the butter is to add a cup of very cold water and blend. Then pour off the watery milk. Go ahead and pour it down the drain, this stuff isn't worth saving. Repeat until the water run clear.
  • Take the chunk of butter and rap it in cheese cloth. Knead the butter to get out the remaining liquid.
  • Stir or knead in salt to taste and that's it! Refrigerate for up to 3-5 days or as long as it does not have a sour odor.


Nutrition Facts

Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 89mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1749IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 1mg
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Shagufta Siddique

Sunday 25th of September 2022

Hi, can I use yogurt instead of kefir in heavy cream to get the cultured butter? And while I m using yogurt do I still need to culture my butter milk? I make probiotic water using water kefir not sure if these will work in milk products do they?

Angela G.

Monday 26th of September 2022

If your yogurt has active cultures, then that will work. You need to culture your buttermilk if you want it to have that signature creamy and slightly tart flavor. I'm not sure about water kefir. Maybe check the packaging or website to see if you can use that in dairy products.


Sunday 4th of September 2022

Can you just consume the "butter milk" without adding cultures to make it sour? I used heavy whipping cream and it tasted good (obviously not sour) without adding cultures.

Angela G.

Sunday 4th of September 2022

Yes, you absolutely can consume it without adding cultures. You can drink it like milk or use it in a recipe.


Thursday 1st of September 2022

Can I add the kefir or starter to the heavy cream so that I also have cultured butter?

Angela G.

Friday 2nd of September 2022

Hi Erik, great question. Yes, you can! Check out this post that explains step-by-step how to make cultured butter:


Friday 26th of August 2022

Hello. Can you tell me by weight how much butter a quart of cream makes? Thank you so much.

Angela G.

Sunday 28th of August 2022

Hi Martin, you will get about half the amount of butter as the amount of cream you start with. So if you are starting with a court of cream, that is 32 ounces. Half of that is 16 which is 1 pound.

Donna gilbert

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

My cream is well past its used buy date and is not separating for butter. Can you explain

Angela G.

Thursday 11th of August 2022

Hi Donna, it sounds like it may be spoiled. Try starting with fresh cream that's not past it's expiration date. Beat with a mixer until the butter fats separates from the liquid. It does take awhile. Follow the instructions in the recipe for more details and check out the video to see the steps in action. Let me know if you have other questions.