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Best way to soften butter?

I'm a relative newbie to cooking/baking. Many recipes call for softened butter (salted and unsalted). I'm impatient, so I always toss fridged or even frozen sticks on low power in the microwave & it's almost guaranteed to partially melt. Any tips to do this better/faster? What effect does using partially melted butter when baking (e.g. cookies)? Thanks.

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  1. Nevermind. I searched outside of "Home cooking" and found other threads. Feel free to reply though.

    1. There is a CH video that is great. Basically you beat your butter! Just whack it around and it softens! I have done it and works great.

      5 Replies
      1. re: sarah galvin

        I cut it up into small pieces, put it in a ziplock bag, and mash it up with my fingers. If I have more time, I put it on a window sill where the sun will help me out. A friend of mine "heats" the empty microwave for a minute, then puts the butter in.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Your friends method scares me! I always heard never to run an empty microwave - it is supposed to be very bad for the appliance. I have no idea why this is so or if it's just an urban legend (microwaves are too "new" to have old wives tales).

          1. re: meatn3

            I have been told that it is bad for the magnetron tube. I would never run an empty microwave. I would at least put a glass of water inside.

          2. re: MMRuth

            ignoring the fact that it is bad for the appliance, does the microwave cavity even get hot with nothing to excite?

            1. re: scubadoo97

              I've only felt residual steam from what was just heated, and it has been fleeting. Perhaps in a very cold kitchen the insulation of the microwave would hold a warmer atmosphere?

        2. This doesn't work with frozen, but cold butter from the fridge, grated on the large hole side of a 4-sided grated, magically softens.

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. I usually cut it according to the tablespoon measurements or a tad smaller and lay it out on a plate at room temperature. The butter seems to warm a lot quicker, usually good to go in 20-30 minutes. I've had success doing this method for cakes, cookies, and buttercream frosting