Grandma's Butter Hacks: How to Use, Store It & Make It Yourself

It’s a fact that everything is better with butter. The tenderness of cookies, the flakiness of your pie, crust, or the smoothness of your sauces is thanks to butter.

So, in this video, I’m sharing butter hacks – things that grandma knew about butter that you should too. You can use it better, make it yourself, and keep it fresh longer.

How to store butter

There are few things worse than sitting down at the table, when you realize you can’t spread butter on your pancakes or freshly-baked bread, because it’s still rock hard in the fridge.

How to store butter

1. Don't put butter in the fridge

I don’t care what you saw, microwaving doesn’t achieve the perfectly spreadable softness. So, do what grandma did, and don’t put it in the fridge in the first place.

Using a butter crock

2. Use a butter crock

Grandma kept her butter on the counter in this thingamajig called a butter keeper. It’s been around since the 16th century.

The butter crock, also known as a butter bell or butter keeper, is a two-piece contraption with a bell-shaped top and a cup-shaped bottom that’s filled with cold water.

It protects the surface of the butter from contact with light and oxygen – the enemies of preservation. It keeps your butter on the counter for up to 40 days. All you need to do is change the water once a week.

Softening and molding butter

Soften a stick of butter on the counter, soft enough to mold it into the bell.

Lining the crock with water

Add just enough water to line the crock.

Placing the bell of butter in the crock

Place the bell upside down inside the crock.

Butter crock at the thrift store

Butter crocks range from simple to ultra-fancy, but they all work the same. I found one at my local thrift store for two bucks.

How to make butter

Granny knew how to make her own butter, which impressed at Sunday brunch. Don’t have time? You won’t need any because it takes minutes.

1. Buy organic cream

Organic cream is cheaper than store-bought organic butter. And, before it becomes butter you’ll get homemade whipped cream and a never-ending supply of cultured buttermilk.

Adding heavy cream to a stand mixer

2. Mix the cream

Add heavy cream to a stand mixer. Start the mixer on the slowest setting and gradually raise it to the fastest. The cream will go through three stages: soft peaks, stiff peaks, and butter solids.

How to make whipped cream

3. Make whipped cream (optional)

Whenever I make butter, I could never resist filling a jar with homemade whipped cream. It’s a treat, especially because the store-bought stuff is filled with synthetic filler. It’s a noticeable difference you can taste in your morning coffee or tea.

From time to time, scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything gets mixed. Throw a towel on your mixer to ensure that no liquids splash out.

Separated buttermilk and butter solids

4. Pour out the butter solids (& keep the buttermilk

Once you see butter solids, stop the mixer and pour out the buttermilk.

How to make buttermilk

This is traditional sweet-cream buttermilk, which is thinner and has a sweeter flavor than cultured, grocery-store buttermilk.

To make cultured buttermilk, pour your buttermilk into a pint-sized jar and innoculate it with one and a half tablespoons of cultured buttermilk. Stir to combine and put on a breathable cover.

Leave on the counter for 8-12 hours. Store in the fridge and use for almost anything. Keep some cultured buttermilk in reserve for making the next batch.

Pressing the butter in a cheescloth

5. Press the butter

Transfer the butter from the mixer to fine cheesecloth. Set over a large bowl. Press the butter into the cloth to remove excess buttermilk. The less buttermilk that remains, the longer the butter will last.

Rinsing the butter

6. Rinse the butter

Rinse the butter until the water becomes clear. This shows you got rid of the excess buttermilk.

Butter-seasoning hacks

You can use your homemade butter to make fancy, urban-spiced butter.

Cinnamon butter

Cinnamon butter

This honey-brown cinnamon butter is perfect for sweet potatoes, brown bread, and bagels.

Garlic butter

Garlic butter

I love this all-purpose garlicy, green onion butter that infuses immediate flavors into meat or veggies. Saute the garlic first and mix the garlic, onions, and salt into butter.

Lemon & herb butter

Lemon & herb butter

Don’t be skeptical about this citrusy lemon balm, parsley, thyme butter that’s perfect for chicken, fish, shrimp, dinner rolls, cornbread, and artichokes.

How to can butter

Grandma knew how to preserve butter by making clarified butter (ghee).

Baking butter to make clarified butter

1. Bake

Bake the butter at 250 degrees in a clear, glass, oven-safe dish.

Making clarified butter

The milk separates to the bottom and the water boils off.

Skimming the oil off the top

2. Skim off the top

Skim off the top using a metal strainer or slotted spoon.

3. Can

Use a ladle to scoop up the oil. Process it for 60 minutes in a pressure canner to make it shelf stable.

How to can butter

It solidifies as it cools. Safely-canned butter is pale yellow with a five-year shelf life.

Refrigerated butter

Granny also knows how to keep a lid on it. Refrigerated butter needs an airtight container.

Butter uses

Grandma didn’t limit butter to food. Dab pills in butter to help swallow them. Use it as a WD40 replacement, to remove gum from hair, or as a dry-hair conditioner. Butter removes fishy smells from your hands. Slip off a tight ring, remove makeup, and more with butter.

Grandma knew how to prevent food from bubbling over in pots; She threw a slice of butter in. It breaks up the starch at the top of the water and allows air to escape.

Butter types

Nana knew different kinds of butter did different things.

Grass-fed butter

Grass-fed butter

Grass-fed butters are from cows raised on grasslands. They contain more nutrients.

Cultured butter

Cultured butter

Cultured butters are treated with cultures and allowed to ferment. They are full-flavor and lower in acidity.

Irish butter

Irish butter

Irish butter has more fat and less water. It’s good for baking.

Salted butter

Unsalted vs salted butter

Unsalted and salted kinds of butter are of the same grade and quality. I get unsalted, so I can control the quality and quantity of salt used.



Margarine is a highly-processed food product from vegetable oil, while butter is concentrated dairy fat. 

Grandma had no patience for this newfangled foolishness about butter not being healthy. It’s rich in nutrients.

Butter temperatures

Grandma felt the best tech was low tech, no tech, or home tech. She could tell the butter temperature by the look and feel.

Frozen butter

If a recipe calls for frozen butter, make sure it’s been in the freezer for a few hours and is firm enough to be hand grated.

Room temperature butter

Room temperature butter

Room-temperature butter is cool and you can make an indent without your finger sinking in. Leave the butter on the counter for around an hour.

Melted butter

Melted butter

When you need melted butter use a stovetop double broiler.

Butter hacks

I hope these butter hacks help you up your butter game. Which was your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

Join the conversation
2 of 7 comments
  • Teri Vinson Teri Vinson on May 30, 2023

    I left oleo in the grocery many years ago. If insects won't eat it, then neither will I. I love the texture and flavor butter brings to food. Like others, I wish it was not so expensive. (I don't have a cow). I, too, keep mine on the counter in a butter saver dish. Love it that way!

  • Vicki Vicki on Jan 03, 2024

    I've used a butter crock for years. I didn't know anyone else knew what it was! Thanks!