Are you ready to make some delicious baked goods? Now, before we start baking, let’s talk about how to soften butter. There are many ways that you can do this! Some people like to cut the cold butter into small pieces and then let it sit on the counter for a few hours until it softens. Others prefer using warm water or microwaving their butter for a short period of time. The choice is yours!
Have you ever decided to bake cookies and then realized that you need “room-temperature” softened butter? Of course, you didn’t pull the butter out ahead of time because you just decided to bake cookies. (Or is that just me?)
This happens to me all the time. Then I heard an awesome tip for how to quickly soften butter. It’s one of those this-is-so-easy why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-myself kinds of tips. But, you’ll have to see which one works best for you.
In this article, we’ll discuss six methods and why they work so well. You’re going to want to keep reading because once your butter is softened, all kinds of recipes will be easier than ever before:)
Softened Butter vs Melted Butter
First of all, let’s chat about the difference between melted and softened butter. There’s a fine line between the two, but you do not want to use melted butter when a recipe asks for softened!
Melted butter is liquid, and it will change the consistency of your food. Softened butter has a firm texture that’s perfect for cookies or any recipe with flour in it!
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that cold butter is required in some recipes, primarily in pastries and biscuits. If you use softened butter, the texture will be off.
Pay close attention to what the recipe suggests!
How to Soften Butter in the Microwave in 20 seconds
This is my favorite method and the one I use most often.
Put your stick of butter with the wrapper still on in the microwave.
(Just make sure it’s not a foil wrapper!)
Heat for 5 – 9 seconds on high. Then, you are going to turn it over and microwave the next side!
The exact seconds per side depend on the microwave power. It’s better to go shorter than too long and end up with melted butter. So, I recommend you start with four per side.
The result will be a slightly squishable stick of butter that is softened just right!
How to Soften Butter with No Microwave: 5 Options
No microwave? That’s okay! There are other ways you can soften butter without one. Granted, it may take you a bit more time than just hitting a button and zapping.
But, with a little patience, you’ll end up with some nicely softened butter!
1. Utilize Your Stove or Oven
This method is a variation of the microwave hack above.
Rather than use a microwave, preheat your oven to 200 (or the lowest temperature it will go), and add a baking sheet in there. Then add the butter (wrapped) and let it soften for about 30-45 seconds before flipping to the next side. You may have to do this many rounds over.
Alternatively, you could heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the wrapped butter stick there instead.
With this method, make sure to keep a close eye on the butter so it doesn’t melt into a puddle!
2. Try Salt + Butter
This is a weird method that I heard of somewhere. I haven’t personally tried this one, but I’ve heard people rave about it. Sprinkle some table salt on top of the butter and then use a spatula to smoosh it down. The excess water in the butter will create heat that softens it. Plus, depending on what you are making, the salt may help with flavor.
This method only works well for small amounts of butter. Plus, as you can imagine, it leaves you with a very salty butter that you probably don’t want in your baked goods. But, it’s an option.
3. Soften Butter in a Dish Towel
The dish towel method is an old kitchen hack that I’m happy still exists because of how useful it can be! All you need are two towels and some water – one damp, one dry.
Soak the dry towel in water, wring it out, then spread it on a plate. Place your butter stick on top of that wet towel and use the other dish cloth to cover up everything. Let sit for about 30 minutes before removing from dish cloth and using as desired!
4. Grate the Butter
A cheese grater can be a helpful ally in the butter-softening game.
Grate the butter stick into a bowl using a cheese grater. This is perfect for recipes that are more delicate (think cookie doughs or cake batters).
5. Utilize a Warm Cup
Another method that many people like is to get boiling water and fill a cup or bowl with it. Let the water sit in the bowl for a minute or two, then dump it. Place your butter stick in the bowl and let it sit for about 30 minutes. The heat from the cup will melt the butter slowly!
So, now that you know how to soften butter, which of these methods will you use first? I highly recommend you try my microwave trick…it’s so simple and FAST!
Recipes with Softened Butter
Now that you know how to soften butter, try your hand at a new recipe with that ingredient. Practice makes perfect!
- Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
- Chocolate Buttercream Cherry Candies
- Bakery-Style Super-Soft Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins
Pin the image below to save these ideas for later.
Brandi Yee says
Good idea! I usually microwave it until it’s a melted mess, but then my cookies are flatter because of it lol. Like this idea better! 😉
Great tip. I always put mine on defrost so it doesn’t melt and get hot and that also works wonderful!
Love is all you need says
Thanks for the tip! Love your blog.
kristin s says
THANks for the tip! NOw if only I could figure out the secret to keeping the cookies soft lol!
One easy tip I use is to put a slice of bread in the cookie tin; it keeps the cookies soft!
something my grandma & mom always do (and they’re the best cookie bakers I know!) is to put a pie or cake pan of water on the low rack while you’re baking , this keeps them soft – even in the container. My boyfriend says I make the softest cookies ever so it MUST work 🙂
I’m going to try that, Sarah, thanks!
Use sour cream in your cookies! Keeps them super soft 🙂
Vicky Buckelew says
I always under-cook my cookies by about a minute or so and that keeps them soft. It allows them to finish cooking outside the oven and not over cook and get crunchy. Also always put your cookie dough on the sheet right out of the refrigerator. It keeps them thicker and also soft.
Anna at Mama Writes says
This is an awesome tip!!! I hate it when the butter is too hard and you have to let it soften. When I try microwaving it I always overdo it… I am not exactly a kitchen mom, so this tip is great for mr as it is really fool proof! Thanks, and I pined this on my Pinterest too.
Glad I could help and thanks for pinning! 🙂
I am DEFINITELY going to try this next time I need softened butter! I never plan ahead enough to have softened butter! 🙂
alisa niki says
awesome I have to try this!
Rachel Robertson (Azrael) says
I love this tip! I always put it on the top of my stove and usually find it melted all over 🙁
I’ve done that too!
Amy Adams says
Thank you! I always micro too long and this tip is awesome!!
great tip, thanks!
Brandi D says
I always forget to thaw my butter too whether it be making garlic bread or baking……hard butter is not easy to work with and melted butter can be a pain too! I love this idea and will be using it! Thank you for posting.
I’ve been doing this for years. I thought everyone did it. lol
I thought everyone did it too!
I guess I’m probably in the minority, still using margarine much of the time for baking … some brands of margarine have a foil cover, so NOT put them in the microwave with the wrapper still on! *Ü*
Yes, that’s a good reminder. Thanks Jenn.
That’s what I do, except that after the first zap I flip the butter 180 degrees to its opposite side. Zap again. Then rotate 90 degrees. Zap and rotate 180 degrees. That makes it sound more complicated (it’s really not) but it’s just so I can remember which sides have been on the bottom so that it all softens uniformly. Otherwise I get one side that is soft and mushy because I’ve lost track 😉
Rita Spratlen says
Thanks for the great tip. I never thought of leaving it in the wrapper!
Microwaving butter changes the chemistry of the butter, if a recipe calls for room temp butter that is what you should use. Softened butter creates a totally different cookie.
True, but if you don’t have the time to let it soften at room temperature, this works. It’s better than melting it, that’s for sure! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
Microwaves do not change the molecular structure of any foods. This is based on old incorrect information that unfortunately microwave phobia has persisted over time. Here is a great article with backed up scientific evidence and peer reviewed journals on the safety of microwaves and your foods. ““Some nutrients do break down when they’re exposed to heat, whether it is from a microwave or a regular oven. Vitamin C is perhaps the clearest example. So, as a general proposition, cooking with a microwave probably does a better job of preserving the nutrient content of foods because the cooking times are shorter.” The University of Harvard Medical School (18)” http://www.skepticink.com/health/2013/12/21/microwave-dangers-top-5-claims-vs-evidence/
I found that using my rolling pin to roll it flat works that BEST and you still get fluffy cookies!!!!!!
Do you roll it out when it’s hard & straight out of the fridge? I’ve never heard of that – I’m intrigued! 🙂
I’ve only ever seen sticks of butter wrapped in foil here (I live in Canada) so unfortunately this wouldn’t work unless you wanted a lightening show in your microwave 😉
Oh yes, that would not work!
Another way that works is 1 minute on 20% power for 1 stick of butter. Works perfect every time.
I used to try that, but it didn’t work for me. I think that it would probably vary depending on the microwave. But if you can get it to work, it’s easier than rotating it!
Just saw this on Pinterest! What a great idea. I will for sure be using this tip!
Yay! thanks for coming by!
Jo-Ann Brightman says
Thank you for the tip. I also have had trouble softening butter. This will be a great help. I pinned it.
We microwave ice cream too if it’s too hard to scoop easily.
We do that too. So convenient!
Colleen Maurina says
Thanks for sharing this cooking tip! I always end up melting the butter which of course usually ruins the recipe. I can use all the cooking tips I can get – keep them coming!
Gretchen Gerth says
I found that grating frozen butter works great for softened butter.
Jennifer Fitzgibbons says
I love this tip, I have never figured out the right timing for this. You rock!
Alpaca Farmgirl says
This is a great tip if you don’t have much time. I always put the stick of butter in my apron pocket. Body heat usually warms it up a lot quicker than room temperature.
Now that’s a great idea too! Thanks for stopping by!
I keep my butter in a small tupperware-ish container with a lid. I just stick it (no pun intended) in the cleavage area of my bra in the morning as I’m making breakfast. By the time I get the breakfast stuff out and the toast or muffins ready, the butter is soft enough to spread. And it always brings a smile to my husband when I whip it out. LOL.
Lol, I can imagine it would, Anne! My husband would love that too. Thanks for stopping by!
Except if the butter you buy happens to be wrapped in tin foil, then you definitely do NOT want to put it in the microwave 🙂
THIS WORKS PERFECTLY!!!! Thank you soooo much!!!!
Great tip! I do this too!
My family always kids me that I make butter “soup” when I try to soften butter in the microwave. Thank you for this tip. I have got to try this.
I figured out that if I reduce the power in my microwave down to low, like 30% power, it will just soften the butter without melting it. You still have to keep an eye on it though. I will try your 4 seconds each side method and see if it works with our microwave, sounds pretty simple.
Sharon Awbrey says
I just saw this (better late than never?) and it worked like a charm! Thank you so much for posting this.
I a man, but I like this tips 🙂 thanks mis…