April 11, 2020

If you’re into baking like me, you must be familiar with recipes that specifically call for softened butter-like cookies and cakes. The reason behind this is that softened butter is a lot easier to mix in with flour and sugar.

You may think that softened and melted butter is the same, but you’ll be surprised to learn that they behave differently in the oven and should not be used interchangeably. Adding the wrong kind of butter can actually mess up your dessert.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at 4 methods you can use to soften butter quickly until it has the right texture and consistency.

What’s Softened Butter?

Butter that’s softened should be somewhere between 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Professional bakers use the term ‘plastic’ when they’re describing the consistency of softened butter. 

To check if your butter is perfectly softened, you need to make sure it’s warm enough that touching it with your finger leaves an indentation but hard enough that it holds its shape. 

If the butter is too soft, it won’t have those tiny holes that are needed to create air bubbles. Hard butter, on the other hand, will give your cakes a lumpy texture and create pockets where the butter has melted.

How to Soften Butter

1. Use a Rolling Pin

Pounding the stick of butter with a rolling pin until its flat is one hack you can try when you’re trying to save as much time as possible. 

What You Need

  • A stick of butter
  • A rolling pin
  • 2 sheets of parchment paper


  1. Unwrap a cold stick of butter and place it between 2 sheets of parchment paper on a chopping board.
  2. Take your rolling pin and pound the butter until it has flattened.
  3. Leave it on your counter for around 5 to 10 minutes before incorporating it into the recipe. 

2. Slice the Butter into Cubes

It takes about half an hour to an hour to soften a whole stick of butter at room temperature, so it’s better to slice it into cubes first. 

What You Need

  • A stick of butter


  1. Take a stick of butter and slice it into cubes.
  2. Leave it inside a bowl for about 5 to 10 minutes until it has visibly softened.
  3. Add the softened slices of butter to your recipe.

3. Use a Box Grater

While cutting the butter into cubes does the job of softening it, grating it will take a lot less time.

What You Need

  • A stick of butter
  • A box grater


  1. Take a cold stick of butter, unwrap it, and grate the entire stick on the side of your box grater. Do it the same way you’d grate a block of cheese.
  2. Once you’re done grating, you can scoop up the grater butter and add it to your recipe.

You can use this method for frozen butter as well when you’re preparing scones. 

This method works great if you’re softening butter in order to use it as a spread.

What You Need

  • A stick of butter


  1. Carefully place the butter in a microwave-safe plate and microwave it for around 15 seconds on defrost setting.
  2. Check the consistency of the butter and repeat the procedure if it has some more softening to do.
  3. Once the butter has reached its desired consistency, remove it from the microwave and add it to your recipe.

You shouldn’t microwave your butter at full power or it will become a melted mess and you’ll have to start all over again with a new stick of butter. 

Watch this video to learn how to soften butter in a few, simple steps.

It’s necessary to use softened butter in baking recipes that specifically call for it. That’s because the temperature and consistency of the butter can play a huge part is how the baked items turn out. 

The reason why pies and scones require cold butter is because they’re supposed to be denser and have that rich, buttery flavor. Cookies and cakes, on the other hand, need to be prepared with softened butter to make sure they’re perfectly moist and tender. 

You need to refrigerate butter to preserve it for 6 to 9 months. Unsalted butter should be kept inside the fridge, whereas salted butter may be kept at room temperature but it will only take about a week for it to go bad.

You can store salted butter in a butter crock at room temperature to use it safely for up to two weeks. If you store your butter properly in your fridge, you can use it for at least a month beyond the best by date. 

Tips and Tricks

  • If the butter you’re trying to soften ends up melting, you need to keep it aside for another recipe and start with a new butter stick. That’s because melted butter will react differently with your dough and won’t give your dessert the desired consistency.
  • When you’re slicing the butter into cubes, you need to use a large bowl or plate to hold the butter to make sure all the slices are spread out so they can soften faster and more evenly. You can also cut it into thin slices to speed up the process.
  • Softened butter isn’t just great for baked items. You can also mix different flavors into it to create seasoned or compound butter. Flavored butters can be prepared with butter that got too soft in the microwave and can no longer be used in your cake and cookie recipes. 

Bottom Line

Softened butter can make all the difference in the texture of your baked goods. It may seem unnecessary and time-consuming, but all it takes is a little bit of forethought and a few seconds to soften butter before using it to prepare the most delicious desserts. 

You can slice your cold stick of butter and let it sit at room temperature or leave it inside the microwave until it has completely softened. As long as the consistency is somewhere between liquid and firm, it’s perfectly safe to add in all your baking recipes.

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About the author

Meet Go-Go-Gadget Renee'. Her passion for #kitchen gadgets is matched only by her love for tech. A real #foodie, she's all heart for red wine and delicious meals. #CookingChewTribe

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