How to Quickly Soften Butter (without melting it)

posted by Andrea | 10/26/2016
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quickly soften butter

During the cooler fall and winter months, we eat a lot of soups, stews, and casseroles… and one of my favorite (super simple) go-to side dishes is homemade bread and butter.

NOTE: Here is my “cheater” recipe for semi-homemade bread, and here’s a fun way to make your own butter.

My kids LOOOOOOVE fresh bread and butter… and Dave and I do too!

However, there is nothing worse than slicing into a still-warm-from-the-oven loaf of bread, only to realize you don’t have any soft butter.

Maybe you forgot to pull it out of your refrigerator or freezer, or maybe your house is cooler this time of year so the butter never gets soft enough for warm fresh bread.

I’ve had this problem MANY times — and up until a few months ago, it always ended in one of two ways:

1. Trying to put tiny slivers of stone cold butter all over my piece of bread

2. Microwaving the butter for “just a few seconds” and then “just a few more seconds” — resulting in liquid butter

Obviously, neither of these options are ideal for bread OR for all your favorite baking recipes that call for “softened but not melted butter”.

Thankfully, a gracious reader shared today’s tip with me a few months ago — and the Dekkers have enjoyed perfectly softened butter ever since!

quickly soften butter

How to Quickly Soften Butter (without melting it)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • tall glass of water

DIRECTIONS:

  • put the glass of water in the microwave for about 3 minutes, or until the water is boiling (or fill glass with boiling water)
  • pour out the water and place the warm glass over the stick of butter (keep the butter in the wrapper)
  • remove the glass after approximately 5 minutes and unwrap your perfectly softened butter

It might sound crazy — but it works every time for me! I’ve tried it with different brands of butter, salted and unsalted, long sticks of butter and short sticks. It always works.

This is probably not enough heat to soften your FROZEN butter, but as long as your butter isn’t coming straight from the freezer, this method should work for you.

No more clumpy butter on your bread and no more liquid butter ruining your favorite cookie recipes ever again!

Oh, and since I know someone will ask, the cute pumpkin-shaped butter dish was a gift many years ago. The brand is Otagiri (made in Japan) and they make all sorts of fun butter dishes. I did a quick search last week and found this exact butter dish on eBay (search Otagiri Pumpkin Butter Dish if you’re interested).

It holds 2 full sticks of butter and is one of the few fall decorative items I use each year. The kids think it’s so cool, and I have to admit, it IS pretty fun! I’m always sad to pack it away when I get out the Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving — but I don’t think it would be nearly as fun if I left it out year round!

Have you ever tried this tip to soften butter?

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29 comments

  1. Melissa Q

    11/04/2016

    How many times have I used this trick this past week — 3, 4??! Wow, it works great. I have a “butter bell” (like this: https://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Butter-Crock-Keeper-Porcelain/dp/B000A1APL8/). If my 105-year-old kitchen walls were insulated, that would do the trick all fall and winter long. But starting this time of year, my butter gets cold! I adjusted your trick and filled the “lid/base-that-doesn’t-hold-the-butter” part of it with water and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Dump out the water, set it on top to cover the part-that-holds-the-butter and viola — soft butter in just a couple of minutes. Perfect!
    GREAT TIP!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay — glad it works so well for you too!

    [Reply]

  2. Jenn in Indiana

    10/27/2016

    I just saw this on a youtube channel called “How Jen Does It”. Its her kitchen hacks video. I watch her a lot but there is no way I could ever do as much cleaning as she does! And I love your blog Andrea, your simplistic attitude appeals to me greatly!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    cool! and thanks Jenn 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Lynn

    10/27/2016

    Great tip! I will definitely try this! If I’m needing softened butter when my oven is on, I will put the butter on top of the stove and the heat from the oven will soften it nicely, but otherwise I’ve used the microwave and usually end up with liquid!

    [Reply]

  4. wilma

    10/26/2016

    Just be careful not to superheat the water! 🙂

    http://www.snopes.com/science/microwave.asp

    [Reply]

  5. Kiersten Anderson

    10/26/2016

    Great tip!! Thanks, I’m always one who forgets to soften the butter ahead of time so I will definitely use this!

    [Reply]

  6. Organize 365

    10/26/2016

    I LOVE this tip! Thanks so much!

    🙂
    LIsa

    [Reply]

  7. Carrie

    10/26/2016

    This may seem like a dumb question but what kind of glasses do you have that do not break when you pour boiling water in them? I have tried to make ice tea in individual portions but the glasses shattered when I poured in the hot water.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good question — I actually didn’t think of that because we have really heavy-duty plastic “glasses”. They are from a restaurant supply store.

    [Reply]

    Skye Reply:

    You can use any kind of Pyrex or tempered glass. If you have a 6 or 8 cup one it would fit over the stick! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, that’s what I was going to suggest too!

    [Reply]

  8. Tracey

    10/26/2016

    Brilliant and so helpful!!

    After many years of wanting one, I ordered a butter bell crock from Amazon ($10) and love it. It keeps butter soft and fresh on the countertop for days, but you do lose the “measurability” of butter in stick form for baking, etc. This butter softening trick will come in handy, for sure!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I actually have one of those crocks too — but I don’t use it all the time! I guess it’s probably because of the inability to measure it like you mentioned. It sure does look cute though!

    [Reply]

  9. sue

    10/26/2016

    LOL.. I was keeping in mind to type a question once I finished reading.. I want that butter dish !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    sue in NJ

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    keep your eye out for one — you never know when it might pop up on eBay again!

    [Reply]

  10. Pamela

    10/26/2016

    I had to laugh…when I saw that butter dish I fell in love with it and looked it up on eBay even before I got to that part in your post! It sold last week and there aren’t anymore like it at the moment. Anyway, love your tips, and always look forward to reading your blog every morning! You have so many great ideas…..we have 8 kids which are almost all grown but I wish I would have had some of your ideas when they were little! ~~Pam

    [Reply]

    Paulette Reply:

    Ditto….wish I would have had her ideas when my children were young!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — thanks Paulette 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    isn’t it a great butter dish! Sad that it was already sold. Keep your eye out, you might find another one!

    [Reply]

  11. Stacey

    10/26/2016

    Also if you just put a glass of water in the microwave with your butter and warm it for 1-2 minutes the butter softens nicely.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good to know… thanks!

    [Reply]

  12. Amy

    10/26/2016

    I microwave “refrigerator cold” butter on Power Level 1 for 45-60 seconds. Usually, I measure out the portion I need, put it on a plate and zap it. Adjust time and power level for your microwave.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    OK, I might need to try this method too as it would technically be even faster than my method 🙂

    [Reply]

  13. Pam

    10/26/2016

    What an awesome tip…thank you!

    [Reply]

  14. Christine from The (mostly) Simple Life

    10/26/2016

    I’ve heard of this but never tried it. I glad to know it works. I’ll definitely try it out! I always forget to soften butter for baking until I start making the recipe.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yeah, I had heard of it before but never tried it until a few months ago. I was really impressed with how well it worked!

    [Reply]

  15. Jen

    10/26/2016

    This is great! I have another trick I use: I make my own “whipped butter”. I just take a pound of butter and 1 cup of oil (I usually use canola). Put them in my mixer and let them whip for a LONG time (like 10-15 minutes or longer, if necessary!) I have two smaller Pyrex dishes that are “butter dishes”. I pour the butter/oil mixture into them (it’s usually pretty runny) and pop them into the freezer. When we need them, I just pull one out and keep it in the fridge. It’s perfectly spreadable whipped butter–for a fraction of the price! Frugal and yummy!

    Happy Wednesday!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    that’s cool — I’ve never purchased whipped butter before, but if I need it, I’ll try to make it myself first!

    [Reply]