Why is My Cream Not Turning to Butter?

One of the things I was so excited about after getting my hands on some raw milk was making my own butter.

homemade whipped cream
homemade whipped cream

I remember the first time Ms. Addy showed me how to make butter by shaking cream in a mason jar until it slowly turned into solid yellow chunks.

However, I realized shortly after I started shaking my jar of cream that it wasn’t turning to butter. Here’s why…

If your cream is not turning to butter, it’s likely because the temperature of the cream is off. Other possible reasons include improper mixing, low fat content, separation problems, or even barometric pressure.

Keep in mind the ideal temperature for churning cream into butter is around 62 to 63 °F (around 17 °C). Although cream that is colder will eventually turn to butter, it will take much longer to do so…

Are you ready to learn more about how to make your butter making efforts a bit easier? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know!

Why is My Cream Not Turning to Butter?

As mentioned earlier, the most common reason why your cream has not turned to butter is related to temperature – nine times out of ten, this is the issue to blame. However, there are a few other reasons that can wreak havoc on your butter making. Let’s take a look…

Not the Right Temperature

When making butter, temperature is key. If your cream has not turned to butter after any amount of churning, it’s possible you’re working with the wrong temperature. The ideal temperature for churning cream into butter is a range between 62-63 degrees Fahrenheit.

Working with temperatures above or below this range can cause issues – if too cold your cream will take longer to turn to butter, and if too warm you won’t be able to salvage the slimy texture that will result. To avoid these problems, it’s crucial that you closely monitor the temperature of the cream while you’re churning.

Low Fat Content

If you’re having trouble getting your cream to turn into butter, the chances are that it may not contain enough fat. To make butter, cream needs to have at minimum 35% fat content by weight, making low-fat milk a bad choice for the task.

Traditional butter usually has about 82% milk fat which is why it is easier for it to separate out during churning; if the cream doesn’t contain enough of this fat, it will remain as liquid instead of solidifying into butter.

Improper Mixing

The texture and consistency of homemade butter is entirely dependent on the quality of the ingredients and mixing process.

If your cream isn’t turning to butter, it’s most likely due to either improper mixing technique or the fact that you started with inferior ingredients. Even if you start with high-quality heavy cream, you won’t get a buttery end product unless it is properly mixed.

When making homemade butter, be sure to mix the cream just long enough for it to reach a thick, creamy texture.

If you overmix or undermine, you will lose out on the natural flavor and texture of your butter. To ensure success when churning your own butter at home, make sure to whisk the heavy cream in a slow and steady manner that results in the right texture and consistency.

Separation Issues

If you’ve made your own butter and it hasn’t reached an ideal consistency, there may be some separation issues at work. Too much cream in the mixture can make it difficult for the buttermilk to separate which affects its ability to turn into rich and creamy butter.

Not only that, but if you make your butter a few days after separating the buttermilk and cream, the composition will have changed and become too viscous to form real butter.

Therefore, you should ensure that you only use fresh cream when attempting to transform it into delicious homemade butter!

Barometric Pressure Issues

Have you ever set out to make butter only to find that it isn’t turning out quite right? If so, barometric pressure may be affecting the outcome.

The relationship between butter and barometric pressure is a complex one, but simply put, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere can influence how well your cream performs when churned.

Under low barometric pressure with an increase in moisture, your cream could churn longer and remain liquid-like – leaving you without that creamy, dreamy consistency of fresh butter!

On the other hand, higher pressures and lower moisture in the air help create stable fats for easier butter production—so if you are looking for successful results, keep an eye on changes in air pressure wherever you live!

How Long Does it Take for Cream to Turn Into Butter?

Generally, it takes between five to 20 minutes for a bowl of cream to transform from a thick liquid into chunks of delicious butter. During this time you should be stirring the cream with a spoon or a whisk, as this helps separate the milk solids from the fat, which creates the butter.

How Do You Fix Cream That Won’t Whip?

If you find that you had your cream at the wrong temperature and you just can’t get it to turn to butter, don’t panic – you still have options!

Turn it Into Whipped Cream

After one bad venture when trying to turn too-cold cream into butter, I was talking to a friend and I explained to her that I could not get my cream to turn to butter! I asked her if she knew any reason why this would be. She simply asked, “Was your cream cold?” I said, “Yeah.” She laughed and said, “That’s why!

Your cream has to be room temperature to turn to butter.” I said, “Ohhhhh!! Yeah, what I have here looks like whipped cream!” She laughed more and said, “It is whipped cream! Add some sugar to it and get yourself some strawberries!”

So, needless to say, I didn’t get my butter. But at least I learned how to make whipped cream!

By the way, I did add some sugar to it and had a little taste. My opinion… yuck! At first it tasted sweet, but the aftertaste was more like mozzarella cheese! Who knows, maybe it was turning to cheese after all that!!

15 minutes of shaking and it DID turn to butter!! Cool! It does, however, still have that weird cheesy flavor. I found that baking it into more savory treats, like biscuits, was a good fix.

Bring to Room Temperature

Make sure the cream is at room temperature. Cold cream will take longer to whip and often won’t get fluffy enough because the fat molecules in the cold cream don’t want to move around and mix with air like they need to in order for whipping to occur. This can also cause the butter and buttermilk solids to separate out, leaving an oily mess that won’t hold air bubbles long enough for whipping.

So, let your cream sit out on the countertop for 30 minutes or so before starting your recipe – this should give it enough time to warm up a bit without getting too warm.

Add Calcium Chloride for a Firmer Curd

Another trick is adding calcium chloride, which is available at most grocery stores or online. This compound helps stabilize the fat molecules in the cream so they stay suspended in liquid form rather than separating out into distinct layers of butter and buttermilk solids like they would normally do if left alone.

Adding just a pinch of calcium chloride will help ensure that your whipped cream stays firm and creamy for hours instead of melting back down into liquid form after only a few minutes.

All in all, making butter is a fun and rewarding process – but it isn’t always easy! Follow these tips to make sure you get picture-perfect butter from cream each and every time.

41 thoughts on “Why is My Cream Not Turning to Butter?”

  1. Not to leave a negative comment, but the post doesn’t really help. “It’s not the right temperature it won’t turn into butter. Make sure to monitor it” okay…what temperature is too hot? Monitoring it doesn’t help understand what to do in the situation. I’m trying to make butter in a viatmix, but just mixing the cream is heating it up. Frustrating.

  2. Just ran into this post! Earlier this week, my 5 year old brought home a tiny mason jar of butter that the class made. I remembered doing the same thing in grade school! We decided to get a quart of heavy cream and shake us some butter! I split the cream in half. Falf in a mason jar and left half in the carton. We shook it into whipped cream in no time! And it stayed whipped cream for at least 5 more minutes of shaking. Figured it was useless to continue with the shaking(it was cold cream also). I transferred to a mixing bowl and used my hand mixer on it. Had butter in about a minute. 1 quart of cream yielded 14 ounce of butter. Not bad! We pressed all the buttermilk out and rolled it into logs. We had buttermilk pancakes with homemade butter this morning! My daughter now wants to try making butter with brown sugar. I think that would be great on warm dinner rolls!

  3. I whipped 1 liter of refrigerated Whipped Cream (35% fat)to make butter in a blender. After some time butter formed. I stopped the blender and added salt to taste. Started whipping again but the butter turned to liquid even after extended whipping at higher blender speed. Why is the butter not forming again?

  4. I know this is a very old post – but I came across this because I was having the same problem… shook the butter for an hour and got no butter! I read above to microwave it for a few seconds – I did 15 (in retrospect, I should have put it in a warm water bath) but anyway, it turned to butter after I warmed the cream!! I used raw cream, and I’m just not fond of the flavor – but like someone said – it’s trial and error…

  5. Thanks for the advice on room-temp cream. Mine would not “butter up” and after leaving it for a couple of hours, it worked great! Altho I’m from Wisconsin, I’m not well versed in these things. Never even been on a farm! But like to try new things and this was fun. I did not, however, realize a pint of cream only makes 8oz of butter. Live and learn!
    Now, do you have instructions for cream cheese? Sour cream (not the kind you make from vinegar), or any other creative and useful things? Thanks again!

  6. Hi,

    I know exactly what your saying, as for the pass week I have come to the same problem. it turns into a whip cream more then butter. I have left it out on counter BUT still a problem, Maybe not left long enough.

    I through it out 🙁 I will try again and leave it out for longer YES! over night maybe it will work for me.

    Glad yours turn out after trying it again, Hope mine does to.

  7. Kendra, thanks for posting this (even though it was a few years ago)! We got raw milk a few days ago and I wanted to make butter from the fresh cream, and was very excited about it! I have made butter before and it was no problem, and figured it would be the same process for the raw cream. After taking turns shaking a jar for a long time, then transferring to a mixing bowl and beating for over an hour with a mixer, I barely got a whipped cream consistency. At that point I thought I should investigate further! Needless to say, said cream has been transferred back to it’s jar to warm up a bit on the counter overnight. Maybe in the morning we’ll try whipping it again!

  8. Thank you so much for keeping this page available to find!!!!! I’ve been making my own butter from my son’s Jersey cow’s raw milk since last summer. This week is the first time the cream would not turn into butter. I am going to get my cream out of the frig and leave it overnight. I am so hoping I’ll be able to have butter tomorrow!! Thanks again!!

  9. I know this article is a few years old, but I’m glad it’s still up. I had no idea why my fresh cream wouldn’t turn to butter. My whole family had been shaking it for hours. I will let it get to room temperature and try again. Thanks a bunch.

  10. Thanks for this. I was having the same problem and couldn’t figure it out, so I searched on the Internet and it led me here. I put the cream in the microwave for a few seconds, and after 30 more seconds with the whisk, I had butter!

  11. Thank you or this post! I am in the middle of using my Stand mixer and all I have is froth. I took the milk straight from the fridge and poured off the cream, so I’m letting it sit a bit now then I’ll try again. I’m so glad you had problems too so I could learn what I’m doing wrong! lol

  12. Okay this butter thing is new for me but I have made it before using heavy whipping cream…I’m using cream off my goats milk and for some reason I can not get it to turn into butter…any ideas

  13. Kendra,
    The first time I made butter, the same cheese taste/smell happened, only for mine it was parmesan, lol! I did some research and realized I did not was the butter solids well enough. You have to be sure to get all the buttermilk out of the butter. I dump mine in a bowl and pour cold water into it and mix it around with a spatula, then dump it off. I repeat the process until the water runs back out clear. No more cheesy butter! The better you wash it the longer the butter keeps! BTW, I’m a brand new follower and I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

  14. I have made butter for years with cold cream. I made it and sold it to customers in KS, had no problems getting it to churn. Last year, I made about 60lbs of butter in a commercial sized mixer, cold cream. I ran out and boarded my cows over while I relocated. I ran out of my butter stash and got some raw milk from some of my plain friends. I was mortified that I couldn’t get the cream to turn. I rarely had this experience before. I was so appalled because I was desperate for good butter having run out. After tossing out the frothy stuff three times in a row ( I used some of it for whipped cream), I decided to let it sit out for the day and viola it turned into butter. Again, I never had this problem before.

    If you let your cream sour it makes the best, I mean best tasting butter. Don’t be afraid of lightly soured milk or cream. It is very healthy for you if it is not sour because of bad bacteria. Old timers drank clabbered milk often. It was easier to digest. I often had customers in their 80’s who would buy fresh milk to let it sour and drink it as clabbered. Europeans use sour cream butter all the time and admonish American’s for our reliance on sweet cream butter.

    The key to good butter is wash, wash and more washing. It doesn’t turn rancid as quickly. Enjoy your journey, it is rewarding for sure. I too was a city girl, gone country. We are enjoying our life immensely.


    • Hi I tried two days in a row day one I got a quart of heavy cream high fat content whipped it in my kitchen aid 45 min and whip cream at room temp day two I got two pints this time I used it cold 45 min whip. Cream again I have made butter a dozen times maybe two times I had that happen but most times it came out all right this time I had to use a different brand could that be it? Any ideas ? Thanks nick

  15. Oh, Kendra, this is why I love your blog–you experiment and make silly mistakes just I do! Your descriptions always make me laugh. 🙂 I’m a little late posting here, but I’m just now catching up with my blog reader. I wanted to share with you that I’ve just recently started making my own buttermilk, and you can also make it from a starter culture like Deborah said. The nice thing, though, is that you don’t need to buy an official culture from the store. All you do is add maybe 1/2 cup of buttermilk to a quarter jar, fill the jar with good-quality milk, screw on the lid, shake, and leave the jar in a warm place for about 24 hours. (I put mine on top of the fridge.) I’ve only made a few batches so I’m not sure how this will work long-term, but I’ve used the leftover from my previous batches to start the next batch, so I haven’t bought buttermilk at the store in weeks! Anyway, I just wanted to share that in case in helps. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us! 🙂

  16. Whipped cream is what you have just before it turns into butter. I’ve used cream right out of the frig, and it turned into butter fine. I use a mixer though. Cow’s milk takes about 20 minutes; my goat’s milk is much faster, but that could be because it’s Nigerian milk, which has more milk solids than cows or big goats. The reason your whipped cream tastes like cheese is because it had started to culture and turn into cheese. If you had it out of the frig for a long time, that’s what happens to it. Whipped cream should be delicious and sweet — better than store bought.

    And if you want buttermilk, you don’t have to make butter first. In fact, what is left over after making butter does not even remotely resemble what we think of as buttermilk. You can buy a buttermilk culture from one of the cheesemaking supply places. Makes delicious buttermilk biscuits and pancakes, and you can keep reculturing it over and over again like yogurt.

  17. When we do butter by the shaking method we add either a metal washer or a marble (both cleaned and sterilized of course) and it turns much faster and by using the blender you want to use the blend, or at least that’s how I’ve always done it. My kids don’t like homemade butter though, they say it doesn’t taste like butter and its too white! LOL

  18. If you do it in the blended it’ll work cold. Maybe just by shaking it won’t. Anyways, raw butter will take getting used to. It doesn’t taste like store butter THANKFULLY. 🙂 It actually HAS flavor. Love it. Embrace it. Cherish it. It’s real butter.

  19. I’ve noticed that sometimes raw milk will have a different flavor to it even though the source is the same. May have to do with what is going on in their grass feed, etc. Not sure, but seems like I read this someplace.

    This was a great post – very educational. I’ll certainly remember to make butter keep it room temp!

  20. If it is not a philosophical requirement to make this manually, try making your butter in a food processor instead. As someone mentioned, you get whipped cream right before you get butter. I doubt the problem was it being cold if you were shaking it all day, using a machine it warms up from friction anyway. I think you can also make it in a blender or mixer, you might want to google that.

    We had a cow I milked a while. I never got enough cream to have enough left to use to make butter and we had a Jersey which is supposed to give a higher cream milk. Buying it from a dairy, you might get more or even be able to buy just the cream. We did not prefer to drink skimmed milk, so had to use some of that cream in the milk as well.

  21. I’m just so used to store bought milk that I think it would take a while for me to get used to raw milk. I’ve had it a few times and I swear it tastes like it was mixed with a beef jerky stick. I made mozzarella with raw milk and it tasted great. I haven’t done butter yet, but I will have to give it a shot.

    • Joel-

      The taste of the milk depends on what the cows have been eating. The very first time I tried my friend Addy’s milk it tasted really salty to me. I thought that was just normal, and decided that I did not like raw cow’s milk! But then I tried another friend’s cows milk and I was pleasantly surprised! It tasted just like store bought whole milk to me! So, maybe you can find another cow to try milk from 🙂

  22. You probably had too much in the jar – or you just didn’t shake long enough. Whipping cream is the stage right before butter. I have accidentally made butter before while trying for whipped cream!

  23. Haha let us know! I don’t know about the whipped cream taste. I always whip mine in my electric mixer and it’s great, maybe it depends on the sweetener?

  24. I had the same experience making butter. I leave it out for a night and then churn it up in the morning. Making your own dairy products is a trial and error process. I have had to give lots of concoctions to the pigs. Oh well it is still in the food cycle. Yogurt is really easy to do. You should try that next.


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