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salted and unsalted butter boxes

Salted or Unsalted: Which Butter Should I Use When?

When it comes to baking and cooking, do you know the difference between salted and unsalted butter? Our Test Kitchen experts explain the difference between the two and recommend when you should use each.

blog_image by Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen

blog_image by Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen

Our Test Kitchen experts have developed and tested hundreds of recipes using Land O Lakes® Butter, so you better believe they know a thing or two about when to use what type of butter and why—after all, they are the butter experts.

What's the Main Difference Between Salted Butter and Unsalted Butter?

Both salted and unsalted butters are made of the same Grade AA quality butter, but salted butter has salt added to it—that’s it! Both salted butter and unsalted butter can be used interchangeably in any recipe, but if the recipe calls specifically for unsalted butter, it’s probably because the recipe has been tested with it and is preferred for that particular recipe.

There are a few reasons why you may want to choose one over the other, so here’s where you’ll want to pay attention:

When to Use Unsalted Butter

Unsalted butter gives you complete control of the overall flavor of your recipe. This is especially important in certain baked goods where the pure, sweet cream flavor of butter is key (butter cookies or pound cakes). As it pertains to cooking, unsalted butter lets the real, natural flavor of your foods come through. Have you ever noticed that some recipes call for using unsalted butter as well as adding salt? Without the added salt in the unsalted butter, the pure sweet cream taste comes through and you can add the exact amount of salt you want in the recipe.

When to Use Salted Butter

Salted butter is all-purpose. It's perfect for spreading on bread, topping veggies and pasta and using in recipes where you're not looking to have as much control over salt level. The salted butter may even add a little something special! Try adding a pat of salted butter to your morning bowl of oatmeal…it takes it from an ordinary breakfast to an extraordinarily tasty treat. After all, a teaspoon of butter only has 4 grams of fat, and it adds great flavor. Be sure to see our Test Kitchen’s favorite salted butter recipes for inspiration!

Learn More About Cooking with Salted and Unsalted Butter​


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