Transforming Homemade Creme Fraiche Into Cultured Butter

April 12, 2011(updated on October 3, 2018)

creme fraiche

The deliciousness of butter is a universally understood truth (and the primary reason for Paula Deen’s career). However, for as good as regular old butter can be, cultured butter is just that much better. Cultured butter is made from cream that has been doctored with a culturing agent, allowed to sit out for a bit and develop tasty, tangy bacteria.

Now, cast your minds back a couple of months to when I wrote about making creme fraiche. To recap, it’s a process in which you stir some buttermilk (culturing agent) into a jar of heavy cream (not the ultra-pasteurized stuff) and let it sit out until it develops a host of tangy bacteria. Do you see where I’m going here? That’s right! Once you’ve made creme fraiche, you’re about 15 minutes away from homemade cultured butter. Let’s walk through the steps, shall we?

creme fraiche into the processor

Pour your creme fraiche into the bowl of a food processor. I started with approximately 20 ounces of very thick, tangy product. Tighten the lid of the process and run the motor for 2-5 minutes.

butter in the food processor

It only takes about 2 minutes in my food processor, but I’m certain your times will vary. You want to process it until it looks like the picture above. You should have a thin, visible liquid with clumps of butter spread throughout. Do know that the liquid will be thicker than when you make butter from uncultured cream.

straining butter

Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the butter and whey through the sieve. Make sure to save that whey, it’s incredibly flavorful and I’ll be posting a baking recipe for you guys that will detail how to use it later in the week. Using the back of a rubber or silicone spatula, gently move and scrape the butter in the sieve to help remove more of the whey. You will find that a bit of butter pushes through the sieve, just scrape it off the bottom and plop it back into the bowl of the sieve.

working butter

When most of the visible whey has been released, remove the bowl from underneath the sieve. Rinse the butter with the coldest water your tap can produce and repeat the pressing and draining of the butter (still without the bowl). The goal is to remove as much of the whey and water from the butter. The more whey you can remove, the longer the shelf life of the butter will be.

After several rinses, place the butter in a shallow bowl (I love this wooden bowl for this job) and work it some more, still attempting to work any remaining whey out of the butter. If you like a salted butter, this is the point where you can sprinkle in a pinch or two of fine grain salt. Mix it into the butter thoroughly with the spatula. In addition to the flavor boost the salt gives, it will also extend the shelf life of the butter a bit.

butter and whey

When your butter is a smooth and whey-free as you can manage, pack it into a small jar (I got enough to exactly fill an 8-ounce jar with this batch). Pour the reserved whey into a container (I love this milk jug I brought back from Portland a couple of years ago for this sort of thing). Both should be stored in the fridge.

Cultured butter is amazing stirred into polenta, dabbed on warm muffins or slathered on toast. Once you make it, you’ll find yourself inventing reasons to eat it.

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40 thoughts on "Transforming Homemade Creme Fraiche Into Cultured Butter"

  • Just in time to be a tasty thing spread on matzoh!

    I’m oddly charmed at buttermilk being the start of this butter-making process.

  • Great minds think alike. I’ve got a post on cultured butter written up and in my blog “queue” 🙂

  • How serendipitous! I “churned” some cultured butter last night based on instructions from another blog. I used my KA with the whisk, but the butter was SO loose when I finally gave up and packed it into jars I wasn’t sure it would set overnight. It did, but it’s got a weird texture, probably because I didn’t rinse it. Do you think I could bring the chilled butter to room temp and rinse it today, or is it too late? Also I must track down a source for vat-pasteurized milk, the UHT stuff worked, but that may also be the cause of the weird texture.

    1. Adrienne, you could certainly try. The rinsing and working is a vital step to making butter that looks like the butter we’re used to. If you have some cheesecloth, you could also try bundling it up in there and squeezing it. That’s another good way to remove the whey from the butter. Also, don’t take it all the way to room temperature. It’s easiest to work with if it’s somewhere in between fridge and room temp.

      1. SO, I tried again today and was completely amazed at 1. how much faster the food pro is than the KA and 2. how much better this rinsed butter is than my last attempt. I am already looking forward to tomorrow’s toast! Thanks, Marisa.

        1. Yay! I’m so glad to hear that it worked better for you this time around! The food processor is definitely the magic bullet in this situation. The KA takes so much longer and splashes little globs of cream all over your kitchen.

  • I am practically a butter addict. I must try this. However . . . Do you think there’s any chance of this working with ultra-pasteurized cream? That’s all I can find where I live.

    1. Dawn, from my experience, getting ultra-pasteurized cream to turn into creme fraiche is really difficult. Because it’s been exposed to such high heat, there isn’t much in there for the buttermilk culture to work with. You can try it, but I can’t guarantee that it will work.

      1. I’m also only able to find ultra-pasteurized heavy cream where I live. I’ve made creme fraiche three times, and twice it worked like a charm. The second time I made it, it still worked, but was a bit runny. I don’t know why, because I didn’t do anything different, except perhaps get a different brand that one time. I think it will work, it’ll just take longer. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly right, it’s still good on tacos. *shrugs*

  • I’m salivating just looking at your butter, Marisa! I have a few good ideas for that whey, too. Great tutorial!

  • Ever since you showed us how to make creme fraiche I have been going to make some, now I have cultured butter to make with it as well. I had better get busy.


  • I have been making our butter for about 6 months now using organic, local cream. Can’t wait to try the creme fraiche route. We usually get about a pound of butter and 3/4’s qt of buttermilk out of 6 cups of cream – it’s wonderful for baking or drinking. Butter freezes well so don’t be afraid to do large batches.

  • Such a great and well-timed post! After reading your original post on creme fraiche, I began plotting things to do with cultured milk and cream, particularly making cultured butter. As it turns out, adding cultured buttermilk to milk instead of cream makes more buttermilk! But now I’ve got my hands on some raw milk that I’ve got set out to turn to make my own buttermilk culture from scratch, which will be put to making cultured butter on short order.

  • I may have to try this if i can find any heavy cream around here (i’m not sure we have a local source for low pasteurized/raw milk).

  • How cool is that?! And I have that same little milk jug…they’re somewhat local to me! I have the taller one, too…

    This brings back memories of Pioneer Days at school…we made our own butter and our own root beer!

  • This is so great. As for buttermilk and cream they both need to not be paturised correct? So RAW and WHOLE only? 🙂 I want to buy the right stuff.

    1. The cream doesn’t need to be raw. You just need to avoid the ULTRA-pasteurized products. If will say on the container whether it’s pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized. And I’ve found that any buttermilk works.

  • Wow~ I just made creme freche for the first time last week and now I’m ready for this! I can’t believe how easy it is to make these things.. people don’t realize what they’re missing ;o) I spend a small fortune on cultured butter and would appreciate the savings (and goodness) of making it from scratch. Thank you as always for all your inspiration 🙂
    Pssst! I just finished making homemade choc pudding, put it into jars & popped it in the fridge.. the kids r gonna love it in their lunch boxes!

  • I found your blog the other day and just wanted to say thanks! I’ve been canning the basics for a long time, so it’s fun to read some other things to do. And I’ll try this butter as well. I use homemade butter for baking, but everyone thinks it’s too stiff for bread, but maybe this will be different? We’ll see –

  • I love making homemade butter. If you want to make it purely by hand you can shake it for about 15-20 in a mason jar (you can check it out on my blog, if you are interested). Yummy!

  • I love making butter. I do it with my kitchenaid. I’ve never made fermented butter, but I’ve had good luck with the ultra pasteurized cream to make regular butter. I wish I had a good line on a source for cream.

  • I am going to start the creme fraiche right now. And I have a beautiful antique blue glass jar waiting for just that job. I have 2 gallons of fresh milk straight from the cow with a heavy top layer of cream loitering in my fridge right now, and I am sure there is some buttermilk hiding in the fridge somewhere. Then later in the week do the butter. Yum. I popped in to look for a good pickle recipe as I am inundated in little cucumbers right now so I am off to browse. thank you. c

  • I think you might have something here that you didn’t count on. I have just discovered that I have become violently allergic to whey. I’ve searched the internet to find out if anyone makes whey-free butter. I’m hoping this is the answer. No where else is the separation of whey from butter discussed. Thank you.

  • Late to the party. I had bookmarked this some time ago, obviously, and just ran across it again. I am re-inspired! I’m used to living in cities and now live in a somewhat more rural setting in Maryland. I buy all of my produce from local farmstands and as it turns out, they all know each other. I am putting the word out for fresh milk! I make butter and creme fraiche often, but I have never had the pleasure of tasting cultured butter. Thank you!

  • Hello – thanks for the tips! I tried my vitamix, then my magic mill mixer- neither worked, then read your page!!! I had already trashed the kitchen, so I thought what’s one more appliance!! The food processor worked great – but just be aware that mine took 7 – 8 minutes to process a pint of cultured cream. It turned out great!!!

    1. Becky, I bet it took longer in your food processor because the cream was warmed from the trips through your other mixers. It transforms to butter best when it’s a bit chilled. When I made mine, it was straight from the fridge. That said, I’m so glad that the food processor tip worked for you!

  • This sounds amazing, thank you! I want to make a few jars as gifts – how long does this butter last in the fridge and at room temperature?

    1. Michelle, the shelf life of this butter depends entirely on how well you squeeze the remaining buttermilk from the solids. I found that it keeps a week or two in the fridge. I don’t leave my butter out at room temperature, so I have no idea how well it would last in that scenario.

    1. You wouldn’t want to use the whey, because it would just become more liquid that you’ll then need to remove from the butter during churning.