How To Make Butter With Raw Milk [GUIDE]

If you have a dairy cow on the homestead, or you have access to raw milk, you have the opportunity to make your own homemade butter. It’s a simple process but one that yields a product far superior to most store-bought versions. How do you get started making butter with raw milk, and what does the process involve?

Making butter with raw milk requires separating the cream from the milk and churning the cream in a container until the cream transforms by releasing water, called buttermilk, and leaving the fat component behind as the butter. The butter quality depends on the milk quality and the process.

We will take you through the step-by-step process of making butter from raw milk. From the initial cream separation to the final churning, we’ll provide detailed instructions, tips, and insights to help you master the art of homemade butter. Whether you’re a seasoned homesteader or a beginner looking to venture into homemade dairy products, you can benefit from our detailed guide.

Making Butter With Raw Milk

Butter has been a staple in kitchens worldwide for centuries, cherished for its rich flavor and versatility. But the taste is even more extraordinary when it’s made from your own raw milk.

Raw milk butter is known for its depth of flavor and nutritional benefits, and making your own butter will give you the joy of creating something delightful from scratch in your home.

This guide will introduce you to raw milk and take you through the process of turning raw milk into creamy, delicious butter right in your own kitchen.

What Is Raw Milk?

Before we dive into the process of making butter, it’s important to understand the main ingredient we’ll be using; raw milk. Raw milk is full cream milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. This means it comes straight from the cow (or goat or sheep) and is left in its most natural state.

Raw milk is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial enzymes. Milk in this raw state contains all eight essential amino acids, which makes the product a complete protein. It’s also packed with fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, which are crucial for various bodily functions.

Unlike pasteurized milk, raw milk retains its full, creamy flavor and all of its nutritional benefits. Pasteurization, while useful for killing harmful bacteria and extending shelf life, also destroys some of the beneficial components of milk. This includes enzymes that aid digestion and beneficial bacteria that contribute to a healthy gut.

However, it’s important to note that raw milk must be sourced responsibly. It should come from healthy, grass-fed animals and be handled with utmost care and hygiene to ensure safety. Always source your raw milk from a trusted local farmer or dairy who can assure the health of their animals and the quality of their milk.

Raw milk is ideal for making butter because it naturally separates into cream and milk. This cream layer, rich in butterfat, is what we’ll use to churn into butter. In the next section, we’ll start with the cream separation process and how to do it effectively at home.

The Cream Separation Process

One of the key steps in making butter from raw milk is the cream separation process. This is where we separate the rich, fatty cream from the rest of the milk, which we’ll then use to make our butter.

Here’s how it works: when raw milk is left undisturbed, it naturally separates into two layers. The top layer is the cream, which contains most of the milk’s fat and floats to the top. The bottom layer is skim milk, which contains less fat and more water.

To separate the cream from the milk, follow these steps:

  1. Let the milk settle. After you’ve collected your raw milk, pour it into a large, clear container and let it sit undisturbed in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This allows the cream to rise to the top.
  2. Skim the cream. Once the milk has settled, you’ll see a distinct layer of cream at the top. Carefully skim this off with a ladle or a cream separator tool, being careful not to disturb the milk underneath.
  3. Store the cream. Transfer the cream to a separate container and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to make your butter. You can also store the skim milk for other uses, like making yogurt or simply drinking.

The cream separation process is crucial in making butter from raw milk. It’s a simple process, but it requires patience and care. The quality of your cream will significantly impact the quality of your butter, so take your time and enjoy the process. In the next section, we will discuss preparing your raw milk cream for the butter-making process.

Preparing Your Raw Milk Cream

Once you’ve successfully separated the cream from the raw milk, the next step is to prepare it for churning into butter. This involves a few key steps to ensure the cream is at the right temperature and consistency for optimal butter production.

Here’s how to prepare your raw milk cream for butter making:

  • Temperature Control: The temperature of the cream is crucial for successful butter making. Cold cream will churn into butter more quickly and efficiently than warm cream. However, if the cream is too cold, it may take longer to churn. A good rule of thumb is to let your cream warm slightly from the refrigerator temperature before churning. Aim for a cream temperature of around 55-60°F (13-15°C).
  • Cream Aging: Some butter makers prefer to age their cream for a day or two before churning. This gives the cream a slightly tangy flavor, similar to cultured butter. If you wish to age your cream, simply leave it in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before churning.
  • Pre-Churning Stir: Give your cream a good stir before you begin churning. This helps to ensure that the fat globules in the cream are evenly distributed, which can help the churning process go more smoothly.

Remember, the quality of your butter is directly related to the quality of your cream and how you handle it. Take your time and treat your cream with care, and you’ll be rewarded with delicious, homemade butter. In the next section, we’ll get to the heart of the matter: churning the butter.

Churning The Butter

Now that your cream is prepared, it’s time for the most exciting part of the process: churning the butter. This is where you’ll transform your raw milk cream into beautiful, homemade butter.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to churn butter:

  1. Pour the cream into a churner. This could be a traditional butter churner, a food processor, or even a simple jar with a tight-fitting lid. If you’re using an electric blender or food processor, fill it no more than half full to allow the cream plenty of room to move around.
  2. Start churning. Begin churning the cream at a moderate pace. If you’re using a machine, start at a low speed and gradually increase as the cream thickens. Aim for a steady, rhythmic pace if you’re churning by hand.
  3. Watch for stages. As you churn, the cream will go through several stages. It will first become whipped cream; then it will thicken further into a grainy texture. Finally, the butter will separate from the buttermilk in clumps. This process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a full hour, depending on the amount of cream and the churning method.
  4. Drain the buttermilk. Once the butter has separated, pour off the buttermilk (don’t throw it away – it’s great for baking!). You’ll be left with a mass of butter in your churner.
  5. Rinse the butter. To remove any remaining buttermilk, which can cause the butter to spoil faster, rinse the butter under cold water. Gently knead it with your hands to expel any trapped buttermilk. Continue rinsing and kneading until the water runs clear.

Congratulations, you’ve made butter! But we’re not quite done yet. In the next section, we’ll discuss finishing and storing your homemade butter for maximum freshness and flavor.

Finishing and Storing Your Homemade Butter

After churning and rinsing, your homemade butter is almost ready to enjoy. But first, there are a few final steps to ensure your butter is the best it can be.

  1. Pressing the butter. Press the butter together using a pair of butter paddles or just your hands to remove any remaining buttermilk and shape the butter. This step is important for the texture and longevity of your butter.
  2. Salting (Optional). If you prefer salted butter, now is the time to add salt. Sprinkle the salt over your butter and knead it in. The amount of salt you add is entirely up to your taste preference.
  3. Shaping the butter. You can now shape your butter into blocks, rolls, or any other shape you prefer. Special butter molds can be used to create convenient or decorative shapes.
  4. Storing your butter. Wrap your homemade butter tightly in wax paper or place it in an airtight container. Homemade butter can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks or frozen for up to a year.

Making butter from raw milk is a rewarding process that yields a product far superior to commercial butter. Not only is it a great way to use up excess milk, but it also allows you to control every aspect of the final product, from the quality of the milk to the flavorings in the butter.

In the next section, we’ll provide some troubleshooting tips for making butter, ensuring you can confidently make delicious, creamy butter every time.

Troubleshooting Tips For Making Butter

While making butter from raw milk is straightforward, you might encounter a few hiccups along the way. Here are some common issues and how to solve them.

  1. Butter Is Taking Too Long to Churn: This could be due to the cream being too cold. Try letting your cream warm up a bit before churning. Conversely, if the cream is too warm, it may turn to whipped cream and not progress to the butter stage. In this case, chill your cream a bit before continuing to churn.
  2. Butter Has a Sour Taste: This could be due to residual buttermilk left in the butter, which can sour over time. Ensure to rinse your butter thoroughly after churning to remove all the buttermilk.
  3. Butter Is Too Soft: This could be due to high water content. Try pressing your butter more thoroughly to remove excess water. If your butter is consistently too soft, you might need to let your cream age a bit longer before churning to develop more butterfat.
  4. Butter Is Too Hard: This could be due to over-churning. Once the butter separates from the liquid buttermilk, stop churning immediately to prevent the butter from becoming too hard.
  5. Butter Has a Grainy Texture: This could be due to the cream being too cold when it’s churned. Try letting your cream warm up a bit before churning.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged if your first few batches of butter aren’t perfect. With time and experience, you can churn out delicious, creamy butter every time.

Creative Uses For Your Homemade Butter

Now that you’ve mastered the art of making butter from raw milk, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Homemade butter is incredibly versatile and can be used in various ways in the kitchen.

  1. Baking: Homemade butter can elevate your baked goods to a whole new level. Use it in recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries for a rich, creamy flavor that can’t be matched by store-bought butter.
  2. Cooking: Use your homemade butter in cooking to add depth and richness to your dishes. It’s perfect for sautéing vegetables, making sauces, or simply spreading on a piece of fresh bread.
  3. Flavored Butter: Take your homemade butter up a notch by making flavored butter. Add herbs, spices, garlic, or even honey to your butter for a delicious spread that’s perfect for bread, steak, or vegetables.
  4. Buttermilk: Don’t forget the buttermilk left over from the butter-making process. This tangy liquid is perfect for making pancakes, biscuits or even as a marinade for chicken.
  5. Ghee: If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even turn your homemade butter into ghee. Ghee, or clarified butter, has been simmered to remove all the water content, leaving behind pure butterfat. It has a high smoke point and a rich, nutty flavor, perfect for cooking.

Homemade Butter FAQs

Making butter at home is not difficult, but some common questions arise, which we will address here.

1. Can I Make Butter From Pasteurized Milk? 

You can make butter from pasteurized milk, but you’ll need to use heavy cream instead of whole milk. The pasteurization process prevents the cream from naturally separating from the milk.

2. How Long Does Homemade Butter Last? 

Homemade butter can last for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator if properly stored. Make sure to remove all the buttermilk and rinse the butter thoroughly to extend its shelf life. You can also freeze butter for up to a year.

3. Can I Use The Leftover Buttermilk? 

Absolutely! The buttermilk left over from the butter-making process is rich in flavor and perfect for baking. Use it in recipes for pancakes, muffins, or biscuits. You can also use it as a marinade for poultry.

4. What Can I Do If My Butter Is Taking Too Long To Churn? 

The cream’s temperature can affect how long it takes to churn into butter. If it’s too cold, try letting it warm up a bit. If it’s too warm, chill your cream before continuing to churn.

5. Can I Flavor My Homemade Butter? 

Yes, you can add a variety of flavors to your homemade butter. Try mixing in herbs like dill or rosemary, spices like garlic or chili, or even sweet additions like honey or maple syrup.

6. How Much Butter Does A Gallon Of Milk Produce? 

The amount of butter you can get from a gallon of milk depends on the milk’s fat content. On average, a gallon of cow’s milk can yield about a pound of butter.

7. Is Making Homemade Butter Cost-Effective? 

The cost-effectiveness of making homemade butter depends on the cost of your raw milk and the yield of butter you get. However, many people find that the superior taste and quality of homemade butter make it well worth the effort.


Making butter from raw milk is a journey back to the basics, a nod to the time-honored traditions of our ancestors. It’s a simple yet deeply satisfying process that transforms a humble ingredient into a culinary delight. From the initial cream separation to the final churning, each step is a testament to the beauty of homemade food.

But beyond the process itself, making butter from raw milk is about embracing self-sufficiency, appreciating the bounty of nature, and savoring the fruits of your labor. It’s about knowing exactly where your food comes from and how it’s made. And most importantly, it’s about the joy of creating something delicious that can be shared and enjoyed with others.



Alice is a writer who grew up on a beautiful homestead in rural Old England. She now lives in New England with her fur babies and is on a mission to return to the land for a simpler, greener, and all-round kinder existence.

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