How to make butter out of heavy cream

This may not be so much a science project as it is a fun time with your kids in the kitchen, teaching them the principles of butter making. I like that this is a fairly clean task… that you get to eat at the end! It’s a great way to entertain your kids while they’re waiting for dinner to be ready.

What supplies do you need?

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • a clean jar with a lid
  • salt (optional)

Shake shake shake!1. Have your child pour the cream into the jar and close the lid tightly. You can also use a plastic container, but it’s fun for kids to see what’s going on inside, so I prefer a clear glass jar. If you let the cream sit at room temperature for a bit, it may make the process move a little faster.

2. Put some music on and shake, shake, SHAKE the jar! Some good shaking songs? “Shake Your Groove Thing” from Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, “Shake” by Sam Cooke, “Shake It” by Metro Station, “Shake Your Booty” by KC & the Sunshine Band, “Shake it Up” by The Cars, and “Shake Your Body” by Michael Jackson. 😉

3. The liquid will thicken into whipped cream and you’ll notice the color changing… it does take some vigorous shaking, so you might end up having to help out a bit. In around 20 minutes you’ll see the liquid buttermilk separating from the solid butter.

4. Drain the buttermilk from the jar. Rinse the butter with cold water to wash all the buttermilk away. If you skip this step, the butter could turn sour in just a few days.

5. Spread the butter on toast or crackers and enjoy!Making butter!

How does this work?
Cream is made up of little globules of fat and protein. When you shake the cream, these globules get stuck together. The more you shake the jar, the bigger the solid mass gets. That’s how you end up with one big lump of butter.

I love the taste of the butter that results from this experiment. It’s sweet and fresh! You can add a dash of salt if you’d like, or try something a little different and hit it with a squirt of honey or make a flavored butter with dried herbs.


This post was inspired by Susan, a.k.a. WhyMommy, who’s battling breast cancer. Though I don’t know her personally, I do know that she’s loved by many, many people and has done so much to spread cancer awareness. Visit Susan’s blog to show your support, and Team WhyMommy’s Virtual Science Fair for more posts like this.

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  1. Christina says

    We did this at one of the “stations” at my sons fall day at school last year. It was so much fun, we had all the kids make some while waiting on Thanksgiving Dinner a efw weeks later.. and we still make it sometimes.

  2. Jennifer Kasprzak says

    I have been thinking of doing this with my kids as part of our weekly cooking class, You have inspired me to do it this week and let them use it at Dinner
    Thanks a bunch
    I love reading your blog

  3. says

    This is a cool activity – thanks for sharing.
    I’ve shown my daughters how beating cream turns it to whipped cream and told them about the next step would be turning into butter, and this is a great way to demonstrate that.

    Of course, now I want to know why the cream changes color when it turns to butter…
    .-= A Well-Versed Mom´s last blog ..Lellow Boobots =-.

  4. Lauralee Hensley says

    I did this growing up a few times, but never thought to add in the jar the honey or the herbs. Good idea. Thanks.

  5. says

    Okay, I can’t get past the cuteness of the little “scientist” to appreciate the project. Well, maybe if I read again….okay, I’m back. Sounds like a lot of fun and I know my 11 year old would get a kick out of this. Thanks for sharing!!!
    .-= Cathy´s last blog ..Meatless Monday with Recipe =-.

  6. says

    I am totally going to try this with my kids. They LOVE butter, so I can only imagine their joy in making some of their own! I also love that you included a playlist to go along with the experiment. :)
    .-= Stimey´s last blog ..Typhoid Stimey Strikes Again =-.

  7. Steve says

    We tried this ourselves and it was a hit with the kids. It kept them busy and they were excited to eat the fruit of their labor.