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Making European-Style Butter at Home is Surprisingly Easy

Making European-Style Butter at Home is Surprisingly Easy


Have you ever made butter from scratch? I hadn’t, at least not since we all took turns shaking a jar in elementary school, before this weekend.  And it’s delicious — really, really delicious. It’s quite unlike any butter, no matter the source or the price, that I’ve ever had. Buttered toast has never been more delicious. And trust me, you’ll want to eat it that way, because this isn’t a utilitarian kitchen staple, it’s the star of the show.

Before refrigerators were invented, butter was almost always made with fermented cream. These days, most people in North America and the U.K. are used to uncultured butter, while our continental European counterparts stick with the traditional cultured butter. And what’s so great about the latter? Well, cultured butter tends to have more depth of flavor and is just a little tangy.

Oh, and the second best part about this recipe? You’ll wind up with butter and real, fresh buttermilk! This is not the buttermilk you can buy at the store, this is the real deal. Use it in baking, in pancakes and waffles, salad dressings and more.


DIY Cultured Butter


  • 4 Cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 Cup plain preservative and gum-free yogurt
  • 4 Cups ice water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon fine sea salt (optional)

Special Equipment:

  • 1 Large, lidded container (like a mason jar)
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Fine-meshed sieve
  • Cheesecloth
  • Stand mixer (ideally) or food processor
  • Parchment

Yield: 12 Ounces butter and 1/2 cup buttermilk.

1. Place cream and yogurt in a large, lidded container and shake well with the lid on. Remove lid, and cover opened jar with clean kitchen cloth. Transfer to a warm spot in your home, around 75 degrees F and let sit for 18-24 hours.
2. After at least 18 hours, stir and taste the mixture. Once it’s thick, silky, and tangy, cover with lid and transfer to the fridge to cool to about 60 degrees F.
3. Place a fine-meshed sieve in a large bowl. Line sieve with cheesecloth. Prepare 4 cups ice water and place in fridge. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on it. Cover the space between the mixer and the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent splattering. Churn butter on high. It will start off-white and the consistency of whipped cream. Over a few minutes of churning, it will thicken and turn pale yellow. When the buttermilk splatters on the plastic wrap, turn mixer off and check to see if the white buttermilk has separated from the yellow curds.
4. Remove bowl from mixer. Pour off as much of the buttermilk into the cheesecloth-lined sieve as possible, without letting the curds drop into it. Next, place the curds into the sieve and let it drain for about 1 minute. Pull the cheesecloth up and around the curds and squeeze out as much buttermilk as possible into the sieve. Reserve buttermilk for a later use.
5. Transfer butter to a large unused bowl. Pour 1/3 cup ice water over it. Using a rubber spatula, smash and fold butter to squeeze out more of the buttermilk. Pour off and discard liquid, and continue pouring ice water , kneading and discarding liquid 5 more times, using just your hands to fold towards the end. If you’re using salt, sprinkle over the butter and fold and smash to incorporate well.
6. Divide the butter roughly in half. Transfer one half of the butter to the top 1/3 of a piece of parchment, and, using your hands, form the butter into a log. Don’t worry about it looking neat. Fold the parchment over the butter and roll the butter back and forth until the log is smooth and consistent in shape.
7. You’re done! Store the butter in the parchment, using tape to secure it. Butter will keep in the fridge for about 1 month.

Recipe Credit: American’s Test Kitchen.

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
3:06AM PST on Feb 27, 2014

Bookmarked... one day I will have to try it, for sure.

8:57AM PST on Feb 20, 2014

Can't wait to try this looks like fun! More people should be eating homemade stuff like this and we would be a lot healthier.

11:35PM PST on Jan 26, 2014

Might just try this. Thanks for the post.
Grew up with my Grandparents at their small farm in Lower Saxony after the war and they were almost self sufficient. Naturally they churned their own butter the old way and I also had my turn. I have never tasted anything like it since, also loved the buttermelk.

4:36AM PST on Nov 30, 2013


9:49AM PST on Nov 24, 2013

The squeeze should just be gentle enough for less than 1/8 of a teaspoon of juice to come out. Or you can exempt it completely and just have them roll it for a few more hours added on

9:46AM PST on Nov 24, 2013

I use to make butter when I was younger (about 6 years old) with my older brother (7 at the time) for Yule (Christmas for everyone else). Mother use to make us sit on the kitchen floor and roll a jar back and forth for hours on end a couple weeks before hand. It was the best butter I've ever tasted. We did cream with just a small squeeze of lemon (NOT TOO MUCH) to get the solidification process going. Not salt added, it was that good.

7:03PM PST on Nov 22, 2013

cool will this work with pasteurized sweet cream?

5:45PM PST on Nov 21, 2013


11:47AM PST on Nov 21, 2013

thank you

11:01AM PST on Nov 21, 2013

We've forgotten the depths of flavor that fermenting can add.

The most unique pickles I've ever eaten are fermented. My grandmother from Hungary made them. They were amazing.

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