5 Kitchen Tip: Salted vs. Unsalted Butter

I have enjoyed using butter in my recipes and always have it on hand.

I keep salted butter for buttering bread, veggies, etc, but most of my recipes call for unsalted butter, which I keep in the freezer.

I was making my Lemon Bundt cake, which calls for butter, which means salted butter and UNsalted was all I could find!

What to do?  How much salt do I add?

Butter comes two ways: salted and unsalted.

Salted Butter

Salt is added to butter for flavor and as a preservative so it will have a longer shelf life.  The amount of salt added to salted butter varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it's hard to know how much extra salt you're adding to a recipe. Using unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt in a recipe.

If you have no choice but to use salted butter in a recipe, the rule of thumb is to omit about 1/4 teaspoon salt per 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter.

Unsalted Butter

Unsalted butter has a short shelf life because it contains no preservatives. If you buy unsalted butter and do not use it right away, it is best to freeze it. If properly wrapped so it won't pick up any odors, butter can be frozen for around six months. Just remember to defrost the butter overnight in the refrigerator before using it. If a recipe calls for salted butter and all you have is unsalted, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter.

Happy Baking!


  1. Hi Frieda, when I first moved here I remember being invited to a cookie exchange. Tasting some of the other goodies I noticed right away that they tasted salty. I was told that everybody used salted butter to bake. That was absolutely new to me. In Germany nobody bakes with salted butter. You always use unsalted and to enhance the flavor, maybe add a pinch of salt. That's what I still do. I always have organic unsalted butter in the fridge or freezer. For most baking the butter should also be at room temperature. Great post!!

    1. I've noticed that, too! I'm sure it is because the salted butter has varying amounts of salt. I always use unsalted butter for baking. I agree, butter should be a room temp for most baking. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. I've never thought about it; I just always used salted butter for everything. Maybe I hate a taste for extra salt. I've found that microwaving butter on Defrost for 30-60 seconds works great without totally melting it.

  3. I'm obviously WAY behind in many of my emails but I still wanted to quick comment to thank you. I've been cooking for a very long time and have always just bought and used salted butter. Over the years I have always ignored whether a recipe called for salted or unsalted and have been lucky. Recently though, that was not the case. I made something which turned out horribly in my opinion. The rest of my family thought it was great but, I could taste the extra salt and could not eat it. I have never heard in all those years to remove some salt from the recipe if using salted butter. This is great to know because I don't want to ruin another recipe. I almost wondered if they've increased the amount of salt being added over the years because to me it tastes like there is more than it used to have.

    All I know is that I will not use anything but butter. It is so much better than margarine. My husband sees butter on the grocery list and makes a comment that we still have 2 in the freezer. I said yes but I get all freaked out if it gets that low because I never know when I might get in the mood to make cookies or something and I don't want to run out. Over the weekend I saw one of Paula Deen's cooking shows and started laughing hysterically. When asked why by my husband, I told him she just said something that could have come from my mouth. She said "I get all twitchy if there's less than 2 pounds of butter in the house". LOL

    1. LOL! I agree! You are so welcome! I think not only does the salt vary from brand to brand, I agree, I think it has increased. I only used salted butter to put on bread and veggies, but always use unsalted for baking and have tons stored in the freezer. Butter is better! :)


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