How to Make Cultured Butter

Learn how to make cultured butter (and real buttermilk) at home with this easy recipe and how-to guide. 

How to Make Cultured Butter

Look at that glorious butter slab! If you’ve stuck around here for any length of time, you know that I’m not one to shy away from butter. 

Several years ago, I wrote a lengthy (there is no other word for it!) guide on how to make clarified butter, ghee, and brown butter at home. It seems only right to take it one step further. 

Today I’m sharing how to make cultured butter! I absolutely love to share these types of recipes as the process is often so much easier and more enjoyable than people might realize.

If you’ve never tried or heard of cultured butter, you’re in for a treat! Both literally and figuratively. 

I started making homemade cultured butter when I started my sourdough bread baking journey a year ago. After sharing some behind-the-scenes videos of the process on Instagram, I got so many requests to share a step-by-step guide and recipe. Let’s do this! 


What is Cultured Butter?

Cultured butter is made from cultured cream. In other words, cream that contains live bacterial cultures and has fermented for a period of time. 

Similar to yogurt, cultured butter has a slightly tangy flavor that sets it apart from regular butter. 

It has a unique flavor that enhances just about everything. Keep it simple and slather cultured butter on sourdough bread (my personal favorite!) or use it in lieu of regular butter in your favorite baked goods or savory dishes.

While store-bought cultured butter is much easier to find these days, it is extremely easy and fun to make cultured butter at home! It’s significantly cheaper too. 

To make cultured butter, you’ll need just two basic ingredients. 

Ingredients You’ll Need: 

  • High-Quality Heavy Cream (*not ultra-pasteurized) – you can’t make butter without heavy cream! You’ll need heavy cream that is not ultra-pasteurized for this recipe. Ultra pasteurized cream and whipping creams often contain thickeners and gums and do not whip well. Since we’re going to the trouble of making butter from scratch, I highly recommend seeking out the best quality cream that you can get your hands. 100% grass-fed will yield the best flavor, color, and nutritional profile. 
  • Cultured Buttermilk – or Plain Unsweetened Yogurt with Cultures, Cultured Sour Cream, or Cultured Creme Fraiche – while traditional butter is made from cream, homemade cultured butter is made from cream that has added live bacterial cultures. Traditional cultured butter is made from heavy cream to which we have added cultured buttermilk (or cultured sour cream or creme fraiche). Plain unsweetened yogurt with live cultures works just as well. Use whatever you already have on hand or already buy regularly! Future batches of cultured butter can be made from any leftover homemade buttermilk. 

Equipment: 

  • tight-lidded container, fine-meshed sieve, mixing bowl, spatula, and stand mixer with whisk attachment (you can also use a food processor or even shake the cream by hand) 

How to Make Cultured Butter

Culture the Cream:

Combine the cream and culturing agent (cultured buttermilk, plain unsweetened yogurt with live cultures, or cultured sour cream or creme fraiche) in a lidded container.

Allow mixture to sit at room temperature – roughly 70 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit – for at least 24 hours and up to 48+ hours. The mixture will thicken and have a stronger, more pronounced tangy flavor as it ferments. It will sour and become significantly thicker in texture. 

Transfer the cream mixture to the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour. This will ensure that the butterfat will stay firm and not become greasy during churning.

How to Make Cultured Butter

Churn in a Stand Mixer: 

Place the chilled cream mixture in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. 

Cover the stand mixer with a clean kitchen towel (this will help absorb any splattering) and whip over medium-high speed until the mixture has thickened and has the texture of a soft whipped cream.

Note: If you don’t own a stand mixer, you can use a large food processor or use your arm muscles and shake the cream in a large jar! 

How to Make Cultured Butter

Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and continue whipping until the liquid and butter fat just begin to separate and it looks curdled.

Reduce speed to low – be sure to cover the mixer as it can splatter considerably at this stage – and continue whipping until the butter comes together as a solid mass on the whisk attachment.

How to Make Cultured Butter

Strain the Buttermilk:

Set a large fine-meshed sieve over a large mixing bowl. You can line the sieve with muslin, but I do not find this step necessary. Gently pour over the liquid (this is real buttermilk!) then transfer the mass of butter to the sieve. Using a spatula, gently press the butter against the sieve to release any additional liquid – without pushing the butter through the sieve.

Transfer the buttermilk to a covered container and refrigerate. Homemade buttermilk can be stored in the fridge for one to two weeks. 

How to Make Cultured ButterWashing Cultured Butter

Wash the Butter: 

Meanwhile, transfer the mass of butter to the empty mixing bowl. At this step, we will wash the butter repeatedly with very cold water, pressing the butter to release any excess buttermilk. Strain, wash, repeat.

The cold water helps to firm up the butter and washing helps remove any excess buttermilk from the butter. This will prevent it from spoiling and extend its storage life. 

Once the water runs clear and you have drained the liquid, press the butter once more to release any excess water. If you desire, you can use clean hands to do this but this isn’t required. 

Add Salt If Desired:

At this stage, you can choose to mix and stir in salt or other seasonings, if desired. I prefer not to salt my cultured butter (and sprinkle salt after using, etc.) as it can mask the delicious tangy flavor.

Homemade Cultured Butter

Wrap and Store the Cultured Butter:

Divide the butter in half – this recipe makes roughly 12 ounces of cultured butter – shape as desired, wrapping the butter in wax paper. Store well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a month (or longer) or freeze for later use.

Ways to Use Cultured Butter: 

  • slather on homemade or store-bought bread, waffles, pancakes, or biscuits!  
  • make homemade cultured compound butter infused with your favorite seasonings or herbs
  • use in lieu of traditional butter in your favorite baked goods
  • enhance and add a touch of tang to savory dishes or sauces

Homemade Cultured Butter

An extra bonus of making cultured butter from scratch is that you’ll make real buttermilk in the process! The flavor is unparalleled. Use it in buttermilk pancakes, waffles, or other dishes. Here are handful of my favorite recipes that use buttermilk. 

Ways to Use Leftover Buttermilk: 

Homemade Cultured Butter

Homemade Cultured Butter

Yield: 12 Ounces Cultured Butter; 2 Cups Buttermilk

Learn how to make cultured butter (and real buttermilk) at home with this easy recipe and how-to guide. Cultured butter has a distinct tangy flavor and can be easily substituted for regular butter in your favorite recipes.

Culturing Time: 2 days
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 days 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 quart (4 cups; 32 ounces) high quality heavy cream (*not ultra pasteurized; no stabilizers added)
  • 3 tablespoons cultured buttermilk, plain unsweetened yogurt with live cultures, or even cultured sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Culture the Cream: Combine the cream and culturing agent (cultured buttermilk, plain unsweetened yogurt with live cultures, or cultured sour cream or creme fraiche) in a lidded container. Stir to combine.
  2. Allow the cream mixture to sit at room temperature - between 70 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit - for at least 24 hours and up to 48+ hours. The mixture will thicken and have a stronger, more pronounced tangy flavor as it sits. It will sour and become significantly thicker in texture with time. 
  3. Transfer the cream mixture to the refrigerator and chill for at least one hour. This will ensure that the butter fat will stay firm and not become greasy during churning.
  4. Churn: Place the chilled cream mixture in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (note: you can also use a large food processor or even shake the cream by hand if you're up to it!). Cover the stand mixer with a clean kitchen towel (this will help prevent any splattering) and whip over medium-high speed until the mixture has thickened and has the texture of a soft whipped cream.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and continue whipping until the liquid and butter fat just begin to separate and it looks curdled. Reduce speed to low - be sure to cover the mixer as it can splatter considerably at this stage - and continue whipping until the butter comes together as a solid mass on the whisk attachment.
  6. Strain: Set a large fine-meshed sieve over a large mixing bowl. You can line the sieve with muslin, but I do not find this step necessary. Gently pour over the liquid (this is real buttermilk) then transfer the mass of butter to the sieve. Using a spatula, gently press the butter against the sieve to release any additional liquid - without pushing the butter through the sieve. Transfer the homemade buttermilk to a covered container and refrigerate. The buttermilk can be stored in the fridge for one to two weeks. 
  7. Wash: Meanwhile, transfer the mass of butter to the now empty mixing bowl. At this step, we will wash the butter repeatedly with very cold water, pressing the butter to release any excess buttermilk. Strain, wash, repeat. The cold water helps to firm up the butter and washing helps press out any excess buttermilk from the butter, which will extend it's storage life in the fridge.
  8. Pour 1 cup of very cold water over the butter and using the back of a spatula (or spoon), press the butter repeatedly against the edge of the bowl. Drain, discarding any liquid, and repeat until the water runs clear. This will take anywhere from 4 to 6 washes. Be sure to err on the side of overwashing. Once the water runs clear and you have drained the liquid, press the butter once more to release any excess water. If you desire, you can use clean hands to do this - but it isn't necessary or required.
  9. Add Salt If Desired: At this stage, you can choose to mix and stir in salt or other seasonings, if desired. I prefer not to salt my cultured butter (and sprinkle salt after using, etc.) as it can mask the tangy flavor.
  10. Store: Divide the butter in half - this recipe yields roughly 12 ounces of cultured butter - shape as desired, wrapping the butter in wax paper. Store well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a month (or longer) or freeze for later use.

Notes

Cultured butter can be wrapped well and stored in the refrigetator for up to a month (or longer) and can also be frozen and thawed for later use.

Inspired by Brod & Taylor.

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Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 110 Total Fat: 12 g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 30mg Sodium: 0mg Carbohydrates: 0g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 0g
A Beautiful Plate provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

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