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how to soften butter

How to Soften Butter

Read on to learn four methods to quickly soften butter without melting it.

blog_image by Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen

blog_image by Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen

How can you tell when your butter has softened?

Butter is softened when you can easily squish it between your thumb and forefinger or, when pressed with the back of a spoon, it has an indentation, yet does not lose its shape. 

How long does it take to soften butter?

Setting out chilled butter at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before using gives it time to soften. The same approach works for frozen butter, though it can take a couple of hours.
softening butter

Shortcuts to Softened Butter

If you’re looking for ways to soften butter quickly without melting it, check out these faster alternatives.

Quick: Cutting Butter into Small Cubes

Cutting butter into small cubes helps to soften the butter in about 15 minutes. You can take this time to prep the rest of the ingredients needed for your recipe. The smaller the pieces, the more quickly the butter will get to room temperature. The easiest way to do this is:

  • Cut the stick of butter in half (the long way) and stack the halves on top of one another. 

  • Cut the stacked halves in half again (the long way).  

  • Stack the sticks of butter and cut perpendicularly into small cubes.

softening butter​​

A Little Quicker: Pound and flatten butter 

Place the butter stick in a resealable plastic bag or between two sheets of waxed or parchment paper, then pound and roll with a rolling pin to flatten and soften.
softening butter

In a Few Minutes: Grating Butter 

The quickest of the three methods is to grate the butter. Partially unwrap the butter, then hold the wrapped portion while using the largest holes on a box grater to create a pile of freshly grated butter shavings that will soften in a matter of minutes. 

In a Pinch: Microwave butter 

Though not recommended for baking, you can use the microwave to soften butter in a pinch–but keep a close eye on it! Butter melts readily, which makes it easy to accidentally take it from solid to liquid in just a few seconds. Softened butter and melted butter are not the same. Using melted butter will change the texture of whatever you’re baking. If you only want the butter to soften for spreading, microwave it on the Defrost setting (30%) in 5-second increments until it’s softened as desired. 
softening butter

What is your tried-and-true method for softening butter? 

Learn more about butter, including recipes and other tips.

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