Homemade butter from raw milk is a fun and easy thing to make. It’s delicious and full of nutrients and beneficial enzymes. Follow this tutorial to learn how to make butter from raw milk.
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Recently I have been reading the “Little House on the Prairie” books to my kids, and I have loved hearing all about how different homesteading practices were part of their daily rhythm. Butter-making days were something the kids helped with then, and now my kids have been inspired to make butter too. Yay! I love making homemade butter from the raw milk we pick up every week from a local farm. The methods may have changed since Ma was making butter in her butter churn in the the little house in the big woods, but the end result is still a delicious and creamy superfood.
health benefits of raw milk butter
Raw milk butter contains an abundance of fat soluble vitamins that are only found in saturated animal fats. These include Vitamin A, F, B6, B12, K and D3. Raw butter from grass-fed cows is one of the richest and most bioavailable sources of Vitamin A. It also contains lauric acid which is a heart-healthy saturated fat (not connected to heart disease) with strong antimicrobial properties.
Butter has been demonized in the past, but we don’t buy into that in our house. And if you’ve been in the natural food world for any amount of time, you know that myth was disproven long ago. We all love our fresh butter and eat on pretty much everything.
ingredients and tools you’ll need
raw cream – obviously I think the health benefits of unpasteurized milk and cream are unmatched, but if you can’t find/don’t want to use raw cream: heavy cream a.k.a. heavy whipping cream from the grocery store will work the same way. It MUST be 100% cream, not half and half, not whole milk.
fine sea salt – optional, but if you want to make salted butter, using a finely ground sea salt will enhance the flavor without making it grainy
stand mixer with whisk attachment – there are many different methods to making butter such as a blender, food processor, or just shaking a good old mason jar. I definitely prefer the stand mixer as I think it’s the easiest way.
mixing bowl shield – most kitchenaids come with a plastic bowl shield, and this is definitely the time to use it. The cream splashes a lot in the beginning and again at the end when the butter starts to separate. If you don’t have a bowl shield (like me), a tea towel draped over the bowl while it’s mixing works pretty well as a splash guard.
spider strainer – you don’t need one of these, but it makes it easier to retrieve all the bits of butter after it has separated. A fine mesh strainer works too.
wooden spoon or spatula – this is helpful for shaping the butter after rinsing out all of the buttermilk
raw milk and cream
The first step to making grass fed, raw milk butter is to source some raw milk. If you’re like me and don’t have your own cow (yet), look in your area for a local farmer who has a dairy cow and is willing to sell you raw milk. Even if it is expensive, I believe the nutritional benefits are worth it. When you purchase raw, whole milk, the cream will rise to the top when it is stored in the refrigerator. You’ll be able to see a creamier layer on the top of the jar, this is called the cream line. We usually get about a cup of cream off of every half gallon of milk. The more cream your milk has, the more butter you can make! The general rule of thumb is: one quart of raw milk cream will produce about one pound of butter.
After your milk has been refrigerated and undisturbed for 24 hours, you’ll be able to skim the cream off the milk. The best way to do this is with a small ladle or measuring cup. Skim off the fresh cream and set aside. Some farmers will have a cream separator, so you might be able to buy just cream to make your own butter. We tend to go through a lot of butter, so I usually buy some raw cream along with our fresh milk.
how to make butter from raw milk in a stand mixer
Pour one quart of cold cream into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. If you have time, it’s helpful to let the cream come to room temperature before mixing. This helps encourage the cream to separate. You don’t want the cream to be warm, but giving it about 30-60 minutes out of the fridge helps speed up the process. Whisk the cream on medium high speed. First, the cream will turn into whipped cream (I definitely recommend reserving a little bit for your coffee at this point). Keep the mixer going, and pretty soon it will start to break apart. After about 6-8 minutes, the yellow butter will stick to the whisk attachment and completely separate from the buttermilk. Be ready when this happens, because it gets quite splashy.
If you’re not quite sure if the butter is done, you can keep mixing. It’s not going to hurt the butter by letting it mix longer. Most of the butter should be stuck in the whisk or the sides of the bowl. Using a spider strainer, scoop all of the butter out of the remaining buttermilk. The next step is important, especially if you want to store your butter at room temperature.
rinsing the butter
Gather all of the pieces of butter and squeeze them into a ball. Under very cold running water, rinse the ball of butter. While you’re rinsing it, knead and squeeze the butter to remove any excess buttermilk. If you have any buttermilk left and you try to leave your butter at room temperature, it will have a rancid cheesy smell after a few hours out on the counter.
If you want to add salt, sprinkle some salt over the top of the ball and mix it in with a wooden spoon.
I like to shape my butter using a wooden spoon or spatula and wrap in parchment paper to store in the fridge.
By the way… that photo is NOT edited to make the butter look that yellow. That is the rich, beautiful butter that comes from happy cows who have access to plenty of fresh grass and sunshine!
recipe tips and notes
- This recipe calls for a quart of cream and yields about one pound of butter. You do not need to use an entire quart if you don’t have enough cream. You only need enough cream for the whisk to be able to sufficiently mix it in the stand mixer. One cup of cream is about the minimum amount that I can do in my 5-quart KitchenAid.
- Do not throw away the remaining liquid! This is buttermilk and is great for baking! We love using the extra buttermilk for biscuits or pancakes. One quart of cream usually produces about a pint of buttermilk.
- If you want to shape your butter into sticks, these silicone molds are helpful! They even have the tablespoon markings on them which is nice if you plan to use your butter for baking.
- Store homemade butter in the fridge in an airtight container. How long it lasts depends on how well you’ve rinsed the butter — it can stay good for up to 2-3 weeks if you’ve rinsed all the buttermilk out. If you haven’t rinsed it thoroughly, it will probably start to sour after about a week.
- Butter will stay good in the freezer if it’s wrapped will for up to 3 months.
try these other delicious raw dairy products!
print this recipe
- 1 quart raw cream
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (optional)
- Pour 1 quart of raw cream into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Mix on medium-high until butter separates from the buttermilk (about 6-8 minutes).
- Remove the ball of butter stuck in the whisk. Strain the buttermilk to catch any little pieces of butter. Press the butter against the side of the bowl to squeeze out any buttermilk.
- Gently knead and squeeze the butter under cold running water to rinse out all of the buttermilk.
- Mix in salt if you’d like.
- Wrap in parchment and store in the refrigerator.