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Using Salted or Unsalted Butter For Baking

The age-old question: should you be Using Salted or Unsalted Butter For Baking? Here's your answer!
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Hi Bold Bakers!

I know this may seem like a no-brainer, but there is lots of question in the baking community about using salted or unsalted butter when baking. I’m here to drop some knowledge and clear things up for all you Bold Bakers who may be wondering if you can use the butter you have in the fridge or do you need to go out and get something different before you start baking things like Pie Crusts or Homemade Chocolate Croissants.

Well, guess what! I am not personally a purist when it comes to butter — you really can use both. Really!

Why I Use Salted Butter

A lot of bakers use unsalted butter so they can have more control over the total amount of salt used in a recipe. I, however, have always used salted butter in my baking while still adding whatever amount of salt is called for in a recipe. Unless your recipe calls for a great deal of butter, salted or unsalted won’t make or break the recipe. At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preference, so feel free to use whichever type you prefer — and if you are on a low sodium diet, then absolutely use unsalted butter.

[ Get my Best-Ever Buttercream Frosting recipe! ]

My personal and unbiased opinion is that Kerrygold Irish butter is some of the best on the market, and is available worldwide. 

Are There Recipes Where you Absolutely Cannot Swap Them?

While I like having the control of using unsalted butter then adding in the salt on its own, you can swap unsalted for salted. If you do use salted butter just be aware of the salt the recipe calls for and adjust accordingly. If all you have salted butter, try cutting the instructed salt amount in half.

So no, there really isn’t an occasion where you can’t swap the two, as long as you stay aware!

Salted butter, sliced and in a butter dish, and not Unsalted Butter.

How Long Does Butter Last?

Both salted and unsalted store-bought butter will last up to 3 months in the fridge. Salted butter can last even longer as salt is a preservative. With this, keep in mind that unsalted butter is typically fresher. Also, I keep butter in the freezer for baking emergencies. 

How to Store Butter in the Freezer

If wrapped up correctly, butter can be stored in the freezer for up to one year. For long-term storage wrap the butter tightly with cling wrap then again with foil and freeze. To use from frozen, set out to thaw at room temperature than used as directed.

Frozen butter just so happens to be the secret ingredient in my Easy Rough Puff Pastry recipe.

Can I Store Salted Butter at Room Temperature?

If you like your butter on hand for spreading, greasing pans, and of course baking, it can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. I like to keep mine in a glass or ceramic butter dish with a lid to make sure it’s not out in the open air, but still at room temperature.

Why is Salt Used in Sweet Baking?

Some of you might be wondering if salt is even important and if it can be left out altogether. Well, believe it or not, the sweets we all love often have the tiniest bit of salt and it’s the ever-so-slight contrast here that our taste buds read as a depth of flavor. The salt should never be detected (and taste “salty”), but when used in the correct amount it really just further enhances all the sweetness and flavors of whatever you’re making.

Just as in savory cooking, salt is also a seasoning for your sweets treats.

Can You Make Your Own Salted/Unsalted Butter?

One of my most popular Bold Baking Basic recipes is for Homemade Butter. This rich homemade version is so easy to make and never fails to wow me. It is arguably better than store-bought and can be made as salty as you like just by adding salt during the making process.

After You Make Butter, Try These Other Ingredients

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tracy van eijk
9 months ago

If I used salted butter I just leave the salt int he recipe out as I don’t like to use a lot of salt anyway. it still taste the same to me with or without the added salt. so salted butter no extra salt unsalted butter then, of course, I will add the amount stated.

9 months ago

I love all your tips. I enjoy watching you demonstrate and I love learning from you

1 month ago

We usually buy butter at Costco. Not the same, I know! We are on our last stick of butter, and are not ready to make a trip to Costco, so I told my husband that I would just make butter, as I had the heavy cream on hand. Love that I can just put it into the food processor and in a few minutes, have fresh, preservative free butter!

4 months ago

Can you make a substitute chart for butter, please? Is coconut oil a good substitute in bread making? Thanks.

Tina Waters
Tina Waters
9 months ago

I just made my own homemade butter yesterday. My family loves the way it tastes and prefer it to most store bought butters.

9 months ago

Thank u for saving us from unnecessary limitations on baking especially for places where unsalted butter is scarce.

9 months ago

I do not salt by food and buy unsalted cans of vegetables, so I always buy salted butter. It would take too long to use the unsalted butter.

1 year ago

Thank you for this!

Judy marshall
Judy marshall
1 year ago

I love all of your recipes, and especially all the ones for homemade things that we always buy,like butter,cream cheese and so on.yoh are very talented and always keeping simple.keep,up the good work

1 year ago

Thank you so much for answering this question, Gemma! I often wondered about the difference between the two.

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Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

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