How to Make Butter in a Jar

Updated on June 1, 2017
VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne has been experimenting in the kitchen for almost 50 years. She loves to share her recipes, cooking tips, and reviews.

Quick and Easy DIY Fresh Butter

Want to impress guests? Or educate your kids about the old days? Try making your own butter in a jar. You can even flavor it with my honey butter recipe which uses orange zest, and then mold it into fun holiday shapes in silicone ice trays.

This method is quick and easy to do! All you need are:

  1. a jar
  2. some marbles
  3. heavy cream
  4. pinch of salt

Add a bit of arm work and your masterpiece will be ready to try in now time. Better yet, gather your guests and make this part of the party activities!

Fun for Kids!


Make Butter in a Jar

How do you like this Butter in a Jar recipe?

4.7 stars from 7 ratings of Butter in a Jar


Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 15 min
Yields: 1/4 cup cream equals 2 Tb. butter


  • 1/4 cup Heavy cream, (or whipping cream)
  • 1 glass or plastic jar that holds about a cup, (make sure it has a tight lid)
  • 3-5 marbles, (clean with soap and water)
  • pinch salt


  1. Pour 1/4 cup of heavy cream into a jar. For kids I often use a plastic jar so that they don't have to worry if they drop it.
  2. Add the marbles. Most recipes I've seen don't use the marbles but these act like mixers and make the butter form faster. Also, they imitate the mixing paddles in old-fashioned butter churns.
  3. Shake the jar. You may want to take turns shaking since it can make you tired.
  4. Generally, my kids like to check every 30 seconds or so. Depending on how hard you shake, it takes between 3 and 10 minutes.
  5. When you see the balls of butter separating, then pour off the buttermilk (for pancakes!) and take the butter out of the jar with a spatula. If you want you can add a little salt.

Making More

Amount of Cream
Amount of Butter
Size of Jar
1/2 cup (4 oz.)
1/4 cup=1/2 stick of butter
8 oz. or larger
1 cup (8 oz.)
1/2 cup=1 stick of butter
16 oz. or larger
2 cups (16 oz.)
1 cup= 2 sticks of butter=half pound
Use two batches in 16 oz. jars
4 cups (32 oz)
2 cups=4 sticks of butter=1 pound
Four batches in 16 oz jars.
My recipe is just for a small individual serving. If you want to make more for a crowd, here is what you will need. To allow the cream room to foam up before it turns into butter, make sure the cream is only 1/2 as much as the jar holds

Flavored Butter

You can add all sorts of different flavorings to butter such as lemon, orange, honey, maple, and garlic. Add a small teaspoonful at a time and taste.

For Kids!

Molded Butter

Use silicone molds to make your treat ready for a party!
Use silicone molds to make your treat ready for a party! | Source

Make a fancy tray of molded butter for your next party. Silicone ice trays come in all sorts of fun shapes: hearts, pumpkins, flowers, butterflies and even Legos. Here is how to mold butter in them:

  1. Pat your butter into the mold with a knife.
  2. Push down to get out air holes, then use a knife to smooth off the top.
  3. Put the mold in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or if you need the molded butter faster, put it in the freezer until firm, about 5 minutes.
  4. Turn the mold over onto a place and push the top of the mold. If it is chilled, it pops right out.
  5. Serve right away, or put in a container in the refrigerator until the party!

Butter Crock

To keep your butter soft and fresh, you can store it immersed in water in a Butter Crock, which is an old-fashioned way that the pioneers would use to keep butter tasting good for a long time. Most of all, enjoy doing something that people have done for many centuries!

 Bell-shaped lid holds butter, while bottom holds water.  Putting lid down into water keeps butter fresh and soft at room temperature.
Bell-shaped lid holds butter, while bottom holds water. Putting lid down into water keeps butter fresh and soft at room temperature. | Source

Teaching Activities

I'm not sure when I first started making butter in a jar with kids, but I know that I have to do it every year for my own children. What I love about this activity is that you are able to use it to explain:

  • Science: how things change when we add friction, and where our dairy products come from!
  • History: how people in the past had to make their own daily items.
  • Sociology: what it was like for children to have to do chores so the family could have food.
  • Reading: I love to tie this into the Little House on the Prairie books or other books about pioneers in America like the American Adventure Series.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1
Calories 102
Calories from Fat99
% Daily Value *
Fat 11 g17%
Saturated fat 7 g35%
Unsaturated fat 4 g
Cholesterol 31 mg10%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

How the Pioneers Did It

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Churning!Almost done!Old fashioned wooden mold.Glass churn
Churning! | Source
Almost done!
Almost done! | Source
Old fashioned wooden mold.
Old fashioned wooden mold. | Source
Glass churn
Glass churn | Source


Butter making is an old culinary technique. Butter Through the Ages gives extensive information about the history and how it has been made and stored. Here are some highlights:

At least 4000 years old. They have found evidence of butter-making in the time of the Egyptians and in the Bible, where it records Abraham's wife Sarah as making butter for visiting Angels. In fact, the way we make butter today is similar to the way it was made in King Tut's time. However, the Egyptians did not use milk from cows. Instead, they used camel milk or the milk of water buffaloes.

Always been made by churning. Actually, the word comes from bou-tyron which probably means "cowcheese" in Greek. In the Middle East, the earliest record of making butter shows that they made a churn for it from the skin of an animal which was tied up to hold the cream inside. The bag was swung until the fat separated from the whey (milk left over when butter separates out). Twenty-one pounds of milk are needed for one pound.

Storage has evolved. In Ireland, archaeolgists find buried barrels in bogs. Apparently people would hide it there or maybe use the bogs to age and flavor the butter. Because the bogs are cool and anaerobic, it doesn't decay although over time it does tend to turn into something resembling cheese. Early ways of preserving was to wrap it in leaves. Pots or crocks which use water to preserve are found at least as early as the 1640s. In the 1800s, dealers in Philadelphia sold it covered in special cloths which the buyers would then wash and iron before returning to the dealer. Later cheesecloth was used as a cheaper alternative wrap. In the late 1880s, wax paper started to be used instead.

Where sweet butter came from. The U.S. Navy can be credited with developing a way to package it in cans that can be stored for a long time in any temperature, they called this "sweet butter." In 1914, working with many manufacturers, they perfected the technique and eventually this type of sweet cream butter was produced commercially.


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    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      I've done this project with my first graders and it was a blast, but I had completely forgotten about it! Very fun!!

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 4 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I am always looking for something fun to do with my granddaughter and this an excellent idea.

    • MarieAlana1 profile image

      Marie Alana 4 years ago from Ohio

      I've done the "butter in a jar" with a group of preschoolers before. I had fun letting the most energetic kids shake it the most. They all had fun!

    • Gvkishore profile image

      Kishore 4 years ago from Nellore


    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      This is a great idea and it sounds like a fun thing to do. You brought back a memory for me too. I just remembered when I was in kindergarten, we made our own butter, but we used a big wooden churn, or at least it seemed big to me.

    • KDeus profile image

      Keely Deuschle 5 years ago from Florida

      We did this over the summer and it was great showing the kids how on their own "power" they could shake the cream into buttermilk and then butter. Great lesson and boy was the butter delicious!

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 5 years ago from United States

      How fun bodylevive to have a real churn. I'd love to get one myself.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 5 years ago from United States

      Audrey--I'm hoping to try to learn to make yogurt. I read a hub about it. Maybe that was yours! It sounded easier than I thought.

    • bodylevive profile image

      BODYLEVIVE 5 years ago from Alabama, USA

      Congrats on HOTD! This is interesting. I have my grand mothers churn and I use it to hold plastic grocery bags. It was handed down from my mother. I can remember when my grandmother passed but I don't recall her ever churning cream. I can recall another family member using this process, from the milk cow to the butter, she would share with my mother. Wow, this hub brings back some great memories. Thank you for sharing. voted up-interesting

    • profile image

      go2sady 5 years ago


    • Junaid Ghani profile image

      Junaid Ghani Durrani 5 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan

      You have covered a lot stuff with a beautiful technique in this hub. Only by reading your lines, I got a taste of butter. Congrats on having your hub as the Hub of the day.

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 5 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      What a fun project for kids. I can see parents doing this with their kids or teachers doing it at school. Who knew there was so much to know? Voting up and sharing.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      This is such a yummy idea, and a sure way to get the kids to burn off all that energy!

      Congrats on winning the HOTD award.

    • Audrey Baker profile image

      Audrey Baker 5 years ago from Arizona

      I'm all about making your own of whatever you can. I've recently started making my own yogurt (when I have the time). I may have to give this a try some day.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congrats on HOTD! I never did this at home with my kids, but we did it a few times at Scout camp...and the jar got passed around to each girl in the troop, until it was done. All shaking--no marbles! Had not heard of the marble trick at that time.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago're my favorite HOTD'er...well actually - i think you're my ONLY HOTD'

      good for you, my friend! Awesome idea!

    • yougotme profile image

      Renz Kristofer Cheng 5 years ago from Manila

      I didn't know you can make your own butter at home. :)

      This is brilliant!

    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Harte 5 years ago from Glasgow

      Great hub! Very useful!!!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Congrats on your Hub of the Day award! Should've seen it coming… :)

    • noorin profile image

      noorin 5 years ago from Canada

      Sweet sweet, I second carol7777, never thought of making butter on my own but shall give it a try one day :) Voted up

    • profile image

      mjkearn 5 years ago

      Hi Virginia

      Congrats on HOTD. Very well deserved for such a great hub. Fabulous lay out and pics. Voted up and up.


    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A. Johnson 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      This was a favorite in my kindergarten classroom. We made homemade butter (minus the marbles) and homemade bread. Yum!

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I remember doing this as a child...we used to help mum and grand-mum with churning butter :) was fun...thank you for sharing this!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Great idea! I remember churning butter in an old-fashioned butter churn as a kid, and I think it would be a fun learning experience to let kids make butter in a jar! We have to try this! Voted up and pinned!

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I always make my own butter. I have been doing it for at least a year. But I never thought about making it in a jar and making it fun! I use either electric beaters to make the butter (which takes me at least 5 minutes on high-speed) or I put it in the kitchen stand mixer, and that takes about 10 minutes. But I think to exert some kids energy, butter in jar would be better!

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Wonderful idea, can't wait to try it.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Never thought it would it be so easy to make butter. I'll be trying this. Thanks and congrats on a great HOTD!

    • Ronna Pennington profile image

      Ronna Pennington 5 years ago from Arkansas

      Shared!!! We are going to do this during Christmas break (and give homemade butters as a gift to some favorite aunts)!

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      I love the glass butter churn in the picture - it is so cool to actually watch the butter form! I am definitely trying this one with my kids - they would think it was really fun. Congratulations on HOTD!

    • Shiley profile image

      Karen Shiley 5 years ago from Washington

      Very nice article. I have actually done this project with my children before but not with the marbles. We will have to try it again. Also I love the ice cube mold idea.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 5 years ago from India

      That sounds easy!!!

      It is very creative...

    • profile image

      OanaBoteanu 5 years ago

      That sounds like a lot of fun, my little cousin is going to love it!

      Thanks for the hub. Voting Up

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Great hub on butter making! I have seen it done on tv chef /cookery shows but never tried it but definitely will give this a go now! Congrats a well deserved HOTD Votes Up, More and Pinned! Thanks for a great easy method with interesting flavour links and history!!

    • profile image

      calculus-geometry 5 years ago

      We did this in elementary school. Sure made my arms tired.

    • KoiHdez profile image

      Koi 5 years ago from New Jersey

      This took me back to the fifth grade where our class made butter in a jar. It's so simple and engaging!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      So interesting and another for my recipe book.


    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks carol, RTalloni and moonlake. This is really a lot of fun to do and kind of addictive. You are right RTalloni that it is very much like the kick the can ice cream!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      I remember my aunt making butter. Very interesting hub enjoyed reading it. Enjoyed your pictures. Voted uP!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      A delightful hub on making butter! Sort of reminds me of Kick-the-Can Ice Cream activities. :)

      So well done!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      never even thought to make my own butter. How easy this is and of course knowing it is totally fresh. Thanks for sharing this unique way..Voting UP.