These Are the Best Ways to Soften Butter

What to do when you need butter, now.

Soft butter
Soft butter. Photo:

Anastasia Dobrusina / Getty Images

Let’s be honest: If a recipe calls for room temperature butter, very few of us will have remembered to remove it from the fridge several hours before baking. Unless you’re the type of person that regularly stores butter on the counter, making time for your butter to soften is an often forgotten task. But if the recipe calls for it, room temperature butter is essential for a successful cake, compound butter, or buttercream

If the butter is too cold, it won’t mix properly. If it’s too warm, the butter can leak out in the oven, make cakes more dense, and cookies to overspread. So trust that recipe — if it says room temperature, aim for your butter to land between 65°F and 70°F. And if you make the completely reasonable mistake of not leaving your butter out to soften, we’ve got your back. Here are some shortcuts to achieving spreadable butter in a pinch.

Warm it Under Hot Glass 

This tested and F&W approved hack involves placing a warm cup directly over the cold butter to gradually soften. You’re going to want to bring a small pot of water to a boil, then pour the water into a heat-safe glass that is wide enough to completely cover the butter. Let that cup sit for five minutes, allowing it to get all hot and steamy. Pour the water out, turn the cup upside down, and place it over the butter. Just 15 minutes later, the butter should be perfectly softened. Warning: depending how long it takes for you to boil water, this method can take up to 25 minutes. So if you need room temperature butter and you need it now, read on.

Beat it With a Rolling Pin

Another great way to soften butter (and potentially release your anger) can be done with a rolling pin. Place your cold butter in a ziplock bag or in between two pieces of parchment paper. Then, using a rolling pin, whack the butter until it begins to flatten. Flip the butter over and continue to beat it until it's completely pliable. The butter may still be a bit cool, but if you let it rest for about five more minutes, it should be good to go! 

Cream It in the Stand Mixer

If you’ve got a stand mixer, this is an excellent opportunity to make use of it. Place your cold butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat it for two to three minutes, then pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat for another two to three minutes or until the butter is soft, light, and fluffy. Depending on the recipe, you may even be able to keep the butter in the mixer and top it off with the remaining ingredients. 

Use the Microwave

Although the microwave method can be risky, it’s without a doubt the most efficient method of softening butter. But rather than just throwing the butter in the microwave and watching through the glass, hoping you grab it before it liquifies, go slow, and heat it in 10-second increments. Repeat this process until it’s reached room temperature. Voila!

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