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Soften butter quickly with this trick. If you forget to let your butter come to room temperature ahead of time, use this quick and easy method.

softened butter cut into 10 pieces

If you find yourself baking more these days, take the time to review this helpful post. I’m so excited to republish it because understanding this crucial concept is key in your baking’s success.

Butter is the starting point for an immense amount of baked goods, so it’s important to have it prepped as the recipe suggests. But guess what? We’re all human and we forget to bring butter to room temperature first or we just don’t have the time. We make up for it by trying to heat it in the microwave, but it always ends up slightly melted. At this point, butter and sugar can’t cream properly leading to cookies over-spreading, dense cakes, overflowing cupcakes, and flat muffins.

Let me help.

Soften Butter Quickly with This Trick

Let’s dive into this a little further.

Why Softened Butter?

First, let’s discuss why you actually need softened butter for your recipe. I actually have an in-depth post about room temperature butter if you’d like to read further.

Most recipes calling for butter call for room temperature/softened butter. And there’s legitimate science involved for this particular consistency. Butter, a solid fat, is capable of holding air and the creaming process is when butter traps that air. While baking, that trapped air expands from the heat and produces a fluffy baked good. Not only this, room temperature ingredients bond together very easily since they’re warmer, creating a seamless and evenly textured batter. A smooth batter with trapped air = a uniformly textured and proper tasting baked good. Cold ingredients do not emulsify together. Period. This results in clumpy frosting, chunky cheesecake, dense cake, flat breads, and oily muffins.

  • It’s literally #1 in my top 10 baking tips: if a recipe calls for room temperature butter, use room temperature butter. It can’t properly cream with sugar otherwise.
creamed butter and powdered sugar

Room Temperature Butter Is Colder Than You Think

Room temperature butter is cool to the touch and about 65°F (18°C). This might be colder than your kitchen. When you press it, your finger will make an indent. Your finger won’t sink down into the butter, nor will your finger slide all around. To get that perfect consistency and temperature, leave butter out on the counter for around 1 hour prior to beginning your recipe.

a stick of softened butter

If your cakes are dense, you’re probably softening the butter too much. And butter that’s too warm causes cookies to overspread. But guess what? You have complete control to prevent these problems.

How to Soften Butter Quickly

The best way to soften butter for a recipe is to set it out on the counter for about 1-2 hours. The amount of time depends on the weather and how cool you keep your kitchen. But we forget and/or we just don’t have time.

There’s a billion tricks to softening butter quickly, but the following is what works best for me. Here’s what you need:

  • water
  • butter, sliced into small pieces
  • microwave

Step 1: Pour 2 cups of water into a microwave-safe cup or bowl. I always use a liquid measuring cup.

glass measuring cup filled with water

Step 2: Microwave it for 2 minutes until extremely hot. Meanwhile, place butter in a heatproof bowl or on a plate.

glass liquid measuring cup filled with hot water

Step 3: Remove water from the microwave. Place butter inside. Quickly close microwave. (Our microwave is one of those models in the kitchen island. I love it!)

Step 4: The radiant heat will soften the butter in about 10 minutes.

glass bowl with butter inside on an opened drawer microwave

Keep This in Mind

The more butter your recipe calls for, the larger the bowl or plate (holding the butter) should be. In other words, you don’t want a huge pile of butter in a small bowl. Spread it out so the pieces of butter can warm up quickly and evenly.

More Tips to Make YOU a Better Baker

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glass bowl with pieces of butter inside

How to Soften Butter Quickly

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 cup 1x
  • Category: Baking
  • Method: Microwave
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Soften butter quickly with this super easy trick.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups water
  • butter (sliced into pieces)*

Instructions

  1. Pour 2 cups of water into a microwave-safe cup or bowl. I always use a liquid measuring cup.
  2. Microwave it for 2 minutes until very hot. Meanwhile, place pieces of butter into a heatproof bowl or on a plate.
  3. Very carefully remove water from microwave. Place butter in the microwave. Immediately close the microwave door to trap hot air inside.
  4. The radiant heat will soften the butter in about 10 minutes.

Notes

  1. The more butter your recipe calls for, the larger the bowl or plate (holding the butter) should be. Spread the pieces of butter out so they can warm up quickly and evenly. Thinner pieces will soften faster.

Keywords: butter

And Always Remember

If a recipe calls for room temperature butter, make sure all other ingredients are room temperature as well. This includes eggs, milk, and sour cream. When cold ingredients touch creamed butter, the butter will cool down and solidify again. And, as you now know, this sabotages your recipe. Place eggs in warm water for 10 minutes and/or microwave dairy ingredients (not butter!) for about 10 seconds prior to using. Now go make perfect sugar cookies!

decorated sugar cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Thank you Sally for the tips! I am making your Oatmeal Cookies, and went searching for room temperature butter ideas. When I saw yours, that’s all I needed to look at. Also, thanks for giving the temperature of room temperature butter. I just got my instant read thermometer, and tested the sticks of butter. They are 67°, so no more softening necessary!
    Love your emails and recipes, you are my favorite site to check first for new recipes.

  2. Wow! I am 76 years young and just found out how much I do not know!! I, like many of us am very concerned where this next year or so is going to take us! I expect flour and grain shortages so want to get back in shape with making bread and other goodies. I have, of course stored up on flour. I am starting to really miss our ole Milk Cow!! Sally I will be using your site, a lot and I thank you for this timely information!!

  3. Thank you. Was about to start a recipe for Olive and Rosemary Bread when that OH NO moment hit, 45g of soften butter. Now it was bad enough attempting to convert a “g” into tablespoons but softened also.
    Ps 45 g is 5 tablespoons right?

  4. Great tip! A slight variation in case your microwave is busy is to use your toaster oven if you have one, skipping the water altogether. Just turn on long enough to get the same radiant heat going, about 1 minute, turn off, then set cubed butter in it on middle rack.

  5. Such Great Information. I am working on making the perfect cookie. Learned a lot today. Thanks so much.

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