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Best method to soften butter or cream cheese - FAST

I need to make a cheesecake tonight when I get home. Of course the cream cheese has been in the refrigerator.

Any tricks/tips to soften evenly? While we are at it, how about butter too.


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  1. this may be too late, but...

    cooks illustrated recommends wrapping the cream cheese or butter in plastic wrap, then submerging it in a bowl of hot tap water for 5-10 min.


    1. i microwave my frozen butter, 10 seconds per side, 6 sides in all, chop into bits if it's still rock hard. or if i'm not as impatient, i sit it out on one of the shelves of the old o'keefe and merrit gas stove-- that thing is like a radiator you can cook with.

      1. Martha Stewart recommends grating it, which works pretty well if the butter is really hard.

        1. I usually just throw them in my KitchenAid mixer and let it go for a while.

          1. I take it out of the metal wrapping and microwave for 20 seconds for cream cheese.

            I microwave refridgerated butter for 14 seconds. Works like a charm :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: yumcha

              Thanks, yumcha! I microwaved 1 stick of butter for 14 seconds and it really did work like a charm.

            2. I've found that putting things to thaw/warm-up on an aluminum cookie sheet works great. It acts like a heat/cold-sync, wicking it all away.

              I'd say it cuts warm-up time in half.

              1. I will usually cut whatever it is into small pieces and leave out for about 15 minutes.
                Also, depending on the type of range you have: if I have stuff going on the burners or the oven is on, I'll leave the butter/cream cheese resting in between the burners. There's usually a warm heat from the oven being on and it speeds things up.


                1. Microwave is good, but for butter, whacking it around with a rolling pin always seemed to work for Julia Child. Don't know that I'd want to try it with cream cheese, though. :-)

                  1. I usually cut it up into small cubes, spread out on a plate and let it sit for 10 minutes at room temp...you have softened little cubes of butter or cream cheese pretty quickly.

                    1. The classic truc is simply to cut it up into slices or smaller cubes and leave it out for a few minutes.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Karl S

                        You and I were reading the same book! But that's the method I always use; living in FL, things usually warm up quickly, though; I have an unfair advantage there.

                      2. I also cut mine up in small pieces but then I stick it on a plate in the warming side of my oven by the pilot light while i prep the other ingredients.