How To: Homemade Butter {Salted & Garlic-Herb)

buttersquare11So growing up in Utah, I pretty much thought that July 24 was a national holiday celebrated by all with fireworks and work being cancelled. And then I got married to a non-Utah boy who didn’t understand why life shut down every Pioneer Day. Now that I don’t live in Utah anymore, July 24, the day Utah celebrates the pioneers reaching Salt Lake City and deciding that was the place, is barely a blip on my radar, but growing up, it was a day full of pioneer bonnets, neighborhood bike parades, and butter-making. We knew how to get down.

Anxious to impart to my children the traditions of my childhood, in preparation for the big day, we decided to make our own butter this year.

making butter with kids

I almost ordered my daughter a pioneer bonnet and my son a wide-rimmed hat (seriously, they were in my Amazon shopping cart), but I could actually see their scowling, sweaty faces under their hatted heads, shaking mason jars full of cream in the Louisiana heat (because it must be done outside) and I decided it was a lot of money to spend on torturing my children for my own amusement, so I refrained.

For the actual butter, you’re going to need heavy whipping cream and salt. I like kosher salt, but flaked sea salt would also be delicious. I think regular table salt is a little heavy-handed here and takes away from the sweet, delicate flavor of the butter, and coarser sea salts may not dissolve in the butter, which most people don’t really dig.
How to make butter at home! So delicious and such a fun thing to do with kids!

If you want to make a garlic-herb variation, you’ll also need a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of chopped fresh chives, and a teaspoon of chopped fresh parsley for every 4 ounces of butter.

herbs for garlic butter

To make the butter by hand, fill a jar that has a lid halfway full with heavy whipping cream.

cream in jars for making butterPlace the lids on the jar and shake the jars vigorously until solids form (this took us about 10 minutes of consistent shaking). You should have a light yellow lump surrounded by thinner liquid.

hand shaken butter lumpI cheated and poured the rest of my cream into the bowl of my KitchenAid and whipped it until it separated. It looked curdled, but it was actually small bits of butter floating in the “buttermilk.” I lined a strainer with a clean dish towel (think super clean, not clean like you just pulled it out of the drier with the cat’s favorite blankets…and cheesecloth would have been ideal, but I didn’t have any) and poured the contents of the bowl into the strainer. Over your sink. Sometimes I have to stress the obvious.



If you’re going the handmade route, you’ll still need to separate the butter from the buttermilk, so just pour it into the cloth the same way.

handmade butter

I know it looks scary. I’m not even going to go into all the things it could look like, but don’t be scared. It’s all going to be okay. We’re making butter.

Twist the top of the towel around the butter, making a ball. A butterball.

freshly made butter in a clean towelSqueeze as much of the liquid out of the butter as you can. There will bet a lot of liquid. Don’t be alarmed–assuming you used at least a pint of cream, you’ll still have plenty of butter. Keep squeezing until you’re not getting any liquid out, then open up the towel.

freshly made ball of butterIsn’t it gorgeous?! It’s so fun to see it all come together.

Transfer the butter to a clean cutting board, but keep the towel close by to soak up any rogue liquid you might encounter as you work with it. Sprinkle it with salt.

Freshly made butter with a sprinkling of saltUsing your fingers, knead the salt into the butter, using the towel/cheesecloth to soak up any liquid. Just salt it to taste, but keep in mind that it will become saltier over time as the salt dissolves.

If you want to add some herbs, measure out about 1/2 cup of butter and then add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley, and a chopped clove of garlic.

fresh herbs in butterMix it in with your hands (yes, I know this is getting very hands-on, but really, it’s the best way) and then transfer into a container for serving/storage.

Homemade butter from Our Best Bites! It's delicious and easy and a super fun way for kids to get involved!


I’m not sure how long this will keep–ours has never made it very long. The more liquid you get out of it, the longer it will last. Just be sure to store it in the refrigerator. As far as baking goes, I’d be a little hesitant to use it here; sure, they did it once upon a time, but today’s baking recipes are pretty much always formulated for commercial butter and you never know what variables could exist in homemade butter; we use ours for eating (on stuff…not straight up). 1 pint of cream will yield about 1 cup of butter.




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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. This was totally awesome!! My kids and I just finished our butter for our own personal pioneer day celebration. So fun, and the kids (and I) were amazed!! Thanks for the fun idea!!

  2. I didn’t grow up in Utah, but did grow up in Texas where we celebrated the rodeo coming to town every year with all sorts of special activities at school and in the community. Making homemade butter, in an old baby food jar, is one of my fondest memories of my 1st grade rodeo celebration!

  3. Coming from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, we have Primary activities to celebrate Pioneer Day. Last year, we made butter, and the kids absolutely loved it. In fact, when our family went camping, my daughters wanted to make our own butter for the corn on the cob we fire roasted. BEST MEAL EVER!! 😉

  4. My birthday is July 24th and it never is as special as it was living in Utah. It is quite the disappointment. Maybe I will have to try new things every year on my birthday to make it feel like it did when I was growing up!

  5. You can then take the butter and press it in a mold. Like a turkey, or a leaf for thanksgiving. I have done this for many years and just use a blender.

  6. What a fun tradition! I like the idea- I might be recruiting my own kiddos to shake a few jars soon. 😉

  7. Homemade butter is so delicious, especially when it’s embellished with garlic herb 🙂

  8. I often make butter when whipping cream is on sale. I always use the buttermilk to make pancakes or waffles. They turn out delicious.

  9. I thought there was a law that homemade butter had to be used on homemade bread or rolls? Though I’ll admit with my kids or in my classroom I’d often cheat and use a roll mix. . . .

  10. I have done this with Cub Scouts a few times, except we added two marbles (VERY clean marbles) to the jar and it only took a few minutes to make the butter. Maybe the extra agitation from the marbles made it go faster? The boys always love doing it.

  11. I grew up in Oklahoma and every year in elementary school we would celebrate the Oklahoma Land Run like this. Butter, hand churned ice cream and our own “Land Run” on the playground. I had forgotten all about that until this post!

  12. Oh, one more thing. I saw that you were not sure how long it would last for. It will only last a couple of days before going rancid unless you do an ice water rinse.

  13. Oh, I love making butter! Blender, food processor, stand mixer it’s all good. In fact I did a how to post on it last week too. 🙂 The kids totally think it’s cool too.

  14. I totally bought heavy whipping cream this week with the idea of making butter with my kids (since we made ice cream in a bag last week too)! I forgot about cheese cloth though, thanks for the reminder.

  15. I am so excited to try this with my kids. We love making food from scratch. And the garlic herb is an added bonus

  16. Yum! We like to do this with our food processor! It’s so easy and people think it’s incredibly fancy to make your own butter, when in fact it is so simple!

  17. I’m a little confused :/ (I know.) If you mix whipping cream with a mixer won’t you get whipped cream? Can you explain? obviously you got butter, so I’m trying to work this out! Lol..

    1. When you whip cream too long, the fat solidifies and separates and becomes butter. 🙂

  18. I remember doing this for Thanksgiving, wearing our bonnets, turkeys hats or feathers, while in grade school. I don’t remember straining it though – I guess that’s the magic of teachers!

    1. Yeah, I don’t remember straining it as a kid, either, but I also don’t remember it tasting very buttery. 🙂

  19. Homemade butter is on my bucket list and I can’t wait to try a garlic herb version. YUM!

  20. Prettiest. Butter. EVER. P.S. how weird is it that I never ever did this growing up? I feel like I was missing out now…

  21. what a fun thing to do. The bonnet and hat would have been adorable. I love pioneer day and I grew up in Idaho, where we didn’t get a day off.

  22. I’ve never actually tried making homemade butter. Thanks for the inspiration. My husband’s family made it every Thanksgiving. With 9 kids they would just take turns shaking and passing. It made it seem fun. I only have 3 kiddos so this would be a better option for me. 🙂 I’ll have to give it a go very soon!

  23. What fun. Is the “buttermilk” actually buttermilk, that I could use in pancakes?

    1. It’s not the same because that kind of buttermilk comes from using sour or cultured cream, so that’s more like yogurt and this is more like skim milk. But I wish it were! I have not ventured into culturing my own dairy products, haha! 🙂

  24. Oh wow. That butter looks heavenly. I wonder what it’d be like smeared on a piece of thick bread with cheese and toasted. *drool*

    <3 Betsy