How to Turn Raw Milk into Butter Using 4 Methods

Making butter at home with raw milk is simple and only requires two basic ingredients and a little time and the taste is absolutely unreal!

A knife in homemade butter on a blue plate.

With or without a goat or cow, you can make your own butter from raw milk. While homemade butter made from store-bought raw milk may only save you about 7¢ a stick, butter made from raw milk that came from your own animals can save you, well, 100%.

Separating the Cream from Raw Milk

Separating Cow’s Milk

If you are getting raw cow’s milk right from your own cow (or a friend’s cow) then separating the cream is easy-peasy. Chill your milk in the back of the fridge. After a couple of days, you will see the cream layer floating at the top. Just skim off the cream and the skim milk (see where the term comes from) will be left behind.

Store-bought raw cow’s milk can be a bit trickier, especially if you live in the US for some reason. The best way I’ve found is to pour the milk into a glass container with a spigot (like those lemonade canisters). Again, put your milk in the back of the refrigerator for a few days until there is a clear line between the milk and cream. Using the spigot, pour out the milk which will leave the cream behind.

Separating Goat’s Milk

Goat’s milk can be really tricky to separate. Most people will suggest a separator to you and I’m going to be another one of those people. I’m not going to lie, they are pricey, but if you have goats and you want to make butter or coffee cream regularly, it’s worth the investment.

If you don’t want to drop that kind of money, it can be done manually with a bit of patience. Pour one gallon of milk into a large shallow pan and leave it in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then carefully skim off the cream. You may need to do several batches to get enough cream for making butter, but the taste is worth it.

4 Ways to Make Butter from Raw Milk

The Old-Fashioned Way

Did you know many people still make butter with a churn? Seriously, they do. Granted I’m not one of those people. Churns have come a long way and now are small enough to sit right on your countertop. They now involve a crank that attaches to a glass container (they have them on Amazon). They are still a bit of a workout, but the butter is the best texture when made with a crank. Here’s a great video showing you the process.

A Jelly Jar

Supplies-wise, this is the easiest way to make homemade butter. All you need is a jelly jar (or if you’re feeling ambitious, maybe a larger mason jar). Workout-wise, this one is the hardest. I’ve made butter in a jar a few times, but when I say I what I really mean is I handed the jar to one of my boys and said “here, shake this.”

Simply pour the cream into the jar leaving a good amount of head space, put the lid on firmly, and shake vigorously for… (no joke)… 35-40 minutes. Yeah, you can skip the gym on butter-making days. You’ll see the butter go through various stages before it separates. Keep shaking until you’ve got obvious butter and buttermilk. Once separated, strain and rinse (see tips below for straining & rinsing).

A Food Processor

A food processor makes faster work than the mason jar does, but it saves your arms from a lot of aching. Fill the food processor half full of cream. The size of the processor will dictate how much butter you can make in a batch. Run your food processor on medium-low until you begin to see clumps forming on the surface. Lower the speed to low until you have obvious butter and buttermilk. Strain and rinse just like you would with jelly jar butter. 

A Stand Mixer

This is the way I prefer to make butter. Just me and my trusty KitchenAid (I have cobalt blue myself). Making butter in a stand mixer is a bit different than the other methods. Instead of cold cream, you want your cream close to room temperature. I typically pull my cream from the fridge half an hour before I make the butter. At the same time I pull out the cream, I put my KitchenAid bowl in the fridge so it can get nice and cold.

When the time has come, pour your cream into the cold mixer bowl. Starting on setting 1 with the wire whisk attachment, begin to mix the cream. Slowly work your way up to setting 10 (you will want the splash guard and maybe a hand towel to control splatter). After about 3 minutes you will see the butter forming. Once the butter begins to stick to the whisk you are ready to strain and rinse.

Straining & Rinsing

Using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, strain out the buttermilk. Make sure you save it because there are a lot of great recipes that use buttermilk. Return your butter to whatever vessel you were making it in (jar, processor, mixer). Add as much ice water to the butter as you removed of buttermilk. If you are using a jar, shake the jar for 3-5 minutes. If you are using a food processor or stand mixer, run on a low speed for a minute or two. Strain and discard the liquid. Repeat a second time. If the water comes out clean, you can proceed. Otherwise, repeat a third time.

Once your butter is clean, put your butter in cheesecloth and squeeze all the liquid out. If you want salted butter (or to add some herbs), now is the time to knead it in. 1/2 teaspoon per pound of butter. At this point, you can store your butter in a little dish or you can mold your butter so it looks pretty (I don’t have time for that, but maybe for special occasions).

Homemade butter on a blue plate.

Homemade Butter Troubleshooting

Sour or “off” taste? Sounds like your raw milk wasn’t super fresh when you started. Yes, you need to let the milk sit for a bit in order to collect the cream, but allowing it to sit for too long means it might go sour. If your goat milk tastes off from the start, make sure you’re using these tricks for amazing-tasting goat milk.

Waxy textured butter? Don’t over-knead your butter in the final stages. You need to make sure to wash all the buttermilk out, but too much kneading leads to a weird texture that may be edible, but not too appealing. Overworked butter may not melt and no one likes that.

Sweaty butter? Don’t worry, that’s not as gross as it sounds. Sweaty butter is butter that has moisture that develops on the surface. This happens frequently with unsalted butter, but it can happen if you don’t incorporate the salt well. Make sure all buttermilk is rinsed and knead well to mix in the salt.

If you’ve nailed making butter and you’re ready to level up, try chèvre. It’s the easiest cheese ever!

A pinterest-friendly graphic promoting making homemade butter from raw milk.

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18 Comments

  1. Desperate for homemade butter says:

    I am using my stand mixer and heavy whipping cream. I let the cream get to room temp but it’s been over an hour on full speed and it’s still stiff whipped cream. Any tips on getting it to the next step?

    1. Jessica Knowles says:

      Hey there, thanks for joining the conversation! It sounds like you’re having some trouble with your cream turning into butter, and I totally understand the frustration. Just wanted to gently point out that whipping cream and raw milk are actually different things. Raw milk hasn’t been processed or separated into cream and skim milk yet, so it won’t behave the same way as whipping cream when it comes to making butter. If you’re using raw milk, you’ll need to first separate the cream from the milk before you can churn it into butter. Hope this helps, and happy butter-making!

  2. Ambika Agarwal says:

    Hi, I have made butter in my stand mixer couple of times and it came out nice. The tip to keep rinsing till water comes out clean is helpful. Thank you. This time I think I had a little extra cream (which I make into sour keep first) so the butter was taking long to make. Then I divided it in two parts. The mixture in the first part became like scrambled eggs. I stopped whipping and refrigerated it for an hour. When I tried to whip it the second time it became like a milkshake which small bits of butter in it. What should I do next? Please do guide.

  3. What cream separator do you use?

  4. Thanks for the butter info. I’ve had success in my stand mixer. I have a question about drinking raw cows milk. Does it need to be pasteurized and if so do you have any tips? Thanks.

  5. How do you by hands wash and clean the bowls and whatnots that butter was contained in without making more mess? It’s fun and rewarding to make my own butter, yet cleaning the greasy bowls is a very time consuming nightmare.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Have you tried washing out with baking soda and distilled white vinegar. I grew up on farm and all natural with no chemicals. Mom used it so cleaneverything and I now still do. It works great and not harmful

  6. Renee Janowski says:

    So helpful to know about having room temp cream and cold mixing implements! I have been making my own butter, but lately it hasn’t been going as well… the trouble shooting tips really helped!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I’m so glad to hear that!

  7. Anonymous says:

    after taking the cream of the milk for the butter how can I use left over milk?

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      It makes the milk “skim” so you can still use it as milk. I’m not a huge fan of drinking skim milk, so I tend to save it for cooking instead.

  8. Delci @ Heritage Club Stables says:

    That is so good to hear about the cream separators: that they work. My girls have cream but by the time it separates it isn’t fresh and doesn’t make good butter. Your separator works with your goat milk?

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Yes, and well worth the investment.

      1. Thank you for sharing I just found an old mason jar churn at an attic shop I’m excited to try it grew up on homemade cows butter which I used cream if I can’t get access to fresh milk?
        Farleysheri 58@yahoo.com

  9. Delci @ Heritage Club Stables says:

    That is good to hear about buying a cream separator: that it’s worth the investment. I want to very badly! My girls have cream but by the time it separates it’s not fresh and doesn’t make good butter. A separator works well with your goat milk then?

  10. Hello,
    I have a question on making butter using raw milk. I use my vitamax blender but For some reason my cream just never separated even after 10-15 min of running the blender. Can you help identifying the problem.
    Thank u
    John

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I haven’t tried using a Vitamax (mostly because owning a Vitamax is still on my Christmas list), but my thought is that there is too much milk in the cream. Is it goat or cow milk that you’re using?

      1. Vitimix heats contents due to high friction after a few minutes. That’s why it didn’t separate. I tried it in mine too. Stand mixer or food processor worked much better.
        Only problem I had was not rinsing properly. .. my butter smelled like cheese… but tasted great!