Soften Butter Quickly with this Trick

Soften butter quickly with this super easy trick! on sallysbakingaddiction.com

It’s Halloween weekend, so I know you’re baking treats for all the festivities. Tomorrow is our celebration day where we’ll head on over to our friend’s house for a celebration. The pups, obviously in their costumes, are joining.

Here’s what I’m making:

I’ll be running around all day today and tomorrow– and I’m sure you will be too. Not only this, we’ve all got a million and one things to do this holiday season. Baking treats is a priority, of course– and we always try to prep as much as possible by reserving enough time for all the holiday goodies we’ll churn out of our kitchens. But guess what? We’re human. And we’ll forget to lay out our butter ahead of time. It’s still in the fridge, hard as a rock. So aggravating! We’ll make up for it by trying to heat it in the microwave, but it always ends up slightly melted. Then our butter and sugar never cream properly and our cookies spread everywhere. It’s a disaster.

Sound familiar? Let me help. It’s the return of baking basics!

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Why Softened Butter?

First, let’s discuss why you actually need softened butter for your recipe.

Baking recipes calling for softened butter (aka like 99%!) typically have you creaming said butter with sugar. This step is crucial. Let’s revisit why: if butter is at its magic room temperature, the sugar effectively aerates the butter during that creaming process. It cuts into the soft butter pieces, whipping air into the base of your recipe. Then the baking powder and/or soda helps expand those little air pockets the creaming process created and your finished baked good is light, tender, and fluffy. Just as it should be because you followed the rules with the MAGIC that is room temperature butter. 🙂

If the butter is too soft and slightly melted, it can’t form those air bubbles. Rather, sugar simply dissolves. On the other hand– if the butter is too cold, it’s not pliable enough to cream and blend. Melted, softened, and cold butter cannot be used interchangeably in recipes as they all perform differently. It is critical you follow the recipe and start with the correct form of butter. While we’re at it, make sure it’s salted or unsalted as the recipe states!

For most baked goods, nothing beats softened butter– and the best way to always have it on hand is to just lay it out on the counter ahead of time. But we forget. No offense butter, but you’re not a priority in my day.

Soften butter quickly with this super easy trick! on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to Soften Butter Quickly

There’s a billion tricks to softening butter quickly, but the following works like a charm each time. And it couldn’t be easier. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. water
  2. butter, sliced into small pieces
  3. microwave

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

Soften butter quickly with this super easy trick! on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Step 2: Microwave it for 2 – 3 minutes until boiling.

Soften butter quickly with this super easy trick! on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Step 3: Place butter into a heat-proof bowl or plate and into the microwave. (Our microwave is one of those models in the kitchen island. The microwave drawer so cool and sorta kinda futuristic looking!) Remove water from the microwave.

Soften butter quickly with this super easy trick! on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Step 4: Close the microwave to trap hot air inside. Butter will soften in 10 minutes.

Then you can use it in your recipe.

Soften butter quickly with this super easy trick! on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Keep 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. You want it slightly spread out so all the pieces can warm up quickly and evenly.

There ya go!

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How to Soften Butter Quickly

  • Author: Sally
  • Total Time: 15 minutes

Description

Soften butter quickly with this super easy trick!


Ingredients

  • 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 – 3 minutes until boiling. Remove water from microwave.
  3. Place butter pieces into a heat-proof bowl or plate, then place into the microwave.
  4. Close the microwave to trap hot air inside. Butter will soften in 10 minutes.

Notes

  1. The more butter your recipe calls for, the larger the bowl or plate (holding the butter) should be. You don’t want a huge pile of butter in a small bowl. You want it spread out so all the pieces of butter can warm up quickly and evenly. Thinner pieces will soften faster.

And there we have it! Perfectly softened butter, the base for millions of recipes. Including ♥  the best frosting ever ♥ 

How to make homemade rainbow chip frosting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Further reading:

107 Comments

  1. What an awesome trick, thanks Sally!! 🙂 I’m the worst at waiting for butter, coconut oil, or cream cheese to be softened. I had to do it yesterday when I made your Skinny Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies and it was torture waiting to bake! 😉 But they turned out amazing! 😀

  2. I love your baking basics series Sally! Thank you for this; I am always that person who tries to make buttercream while softening the butter in the microwave…. and I’m always so careful that I never get it soft enough to work with since I don’t want to melt it. Sometimes I feel like the first step of a recipe involving softened butter should be: (2 hours prior) – take the butter out of the fridge. So forgetful, but nice to see I’m not alone. Looks like you’re baking a lot of recipes for Halloween! I wish I had time to bake that many but time is not on my side. The only recipe I plan to make this weekend is a batch of your granola actually. You know, to balance out all the Halloween candies that are coming on Monday and Tuesday 😉

    1. I like your style!! BALANCE 😉 

      But I agree, you really should give yourself enough time for butter to properly soften, but we’re only human. And forget!

  3. This is a great tip, can’t wait to try it! One thing to note, make sure you put a wooden skewer or something microwave safe in the water when you boil it…because of the smooth glass sides, sometimes the bubbles won’t escape until you move the container, and no one wants boiling water all over their hand/arm!

  4. Dang, I could have used this tip earlier this week…I made your carrot cake cupcakes, and while I DID set out the butter and cream cheese for the frosting ahead of time, apparently my kitchen was too cold for them to soften correctly. I zapped them in the microwave for about 20 seconds but then once I got the frosting made it was SO soft that it almost slid off the cupcakes and was kind of an odd texture, first time I’ve ever had that problem and I’ve made this frosting several times. Definitely saving this tip!

  5. Loved that info about WHY we need to soften the butter (vs. cold or melted). I had never really thought about it–thanks for teaching me something new!

  6. Speaking of butter, I live in Italy where I can never find salted butter (what’s up with that?)! I sometimes salt my toast just so I can taste something! Occasionally I will find some salted butter from France, but it’s REALLY salty, even for me. What would you suggest if the recipe calls for salted butter and I have none? Adding a bit of salt to the batter? 🙂

  7. I was just talking about this to someone last week. How to quickly soften butter and why it needs it. 

    The method I told them was similar. Heat water to scalding hot and pour into a bowl. Let it sit a few minutes and then pour out and set the hot bowl over the butter. Allowing he hear from the bowl to slowly warm/soften the butter. 

  8. This is genius!  It reminds me of a tshirt my boys had growing up “Stand Back I’m Going To Try Science!”. 😀  I love how you just science the heck out of everything. If someone tells me to do something a certain way I may remember. But explain the WHY behind it and BOOM! I’m all yours, devoted to that process. Ever since I read in your blog about the proper temperature of ingredients, why chilling cookie dough makes a difference, I’ve stuck with these steps. You are a true educator Sally, and that makes all the difference. Thanks so much!  Peace. 

    1. Well thank you so much for making my evening, Michelle. I really appreciate your kind words and just giggled imagining myself as a mad scientist “science-ing” the heck out of everything!!

  9. I’m a “just retired” person learning to cook/bake and loving it. But I didn’t have anyone teaching me the ropes along the way, so your blog tells me Why along with How. I will remember the How because of it, and will be able to apply theory across a wide path of “new to me” tasks. TY Sally! My kitchen is now my friend. 🙂

  10. Oh, this is perfect!! Thank you so much! I know the trick of getting eggs to room temp (submerging in a bowl of very warm water for 5 minutes), but never had a “butter to room temp” trick that actually worked without melting it.

  11. LOVE this post! I always get everything ready to bake, and then realize I didn’t get the butter! Thank you!

    Also want to comment on your website’s changes lately: It looks fabulous!

  12. Great tip – and very timely, too. I love this series, I’ve learned so much great info. Now I’m starting to share all this good intel with my mom, too – we love it!

  13. I am definitely one of those bakers who waits until I’m ready to start my baking to soften/bring everything to room temperature! I found a tip from another blogger that has worked fantastically for me the last several times I’ve baked: Take the turntable out of your microwave, place the butter on its end in the center of the microwave (so it’s standing tall vs. laying down on its side) and microwave on high for 4-5 seconds, then turn the butter on its other end and microwave for another 4-5 seconds. 🙂

    1. Interesting and certainly something I’ve never tried before. Now I’m intrigued to give it a go 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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