Introduction: How to Soften Butter Fast

Picture of How to Soften Butter Fast

In this instructable I'll show you two tricks to get your butter up to room temperature FAST. I am really terrible at remembering to set my butter out ahead of time when baking to get to room temperature. Or I decide I really want cookies at 11 PM and then have no time to let the butter soften on its own or I'll be up all night making cookies.

After many many many failed bakes where I accidentally melted the butter when trying to soften it in the microwave, I now stick to these methods for softening butter super quick!

Step 1: Method One: Chop It Up

Picture of Method One: Chop It Up

This method is a little more fiddly than the second method, and takes a little longer, but this is the way I did it for years!

Take the butter out of the fridge and dice it fairly finely. I use the butter wrapping as a cutting surface. Cut it into tablespoons and then cut each of those into nine pieces, or go even smaller if you'd like.

Then spread it out on a plate or piece of parchment. Let sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature and it will be soft enough to use. I normally do this part first and then measure out the rest of the ingredients. By the time I get back to the butter it's perfect! :)

Step 2: Method Two: Grate It

Picture of Method Two: Grate It

This is probably what I use my grater for the most. If you've got one of those big box graters hanging out around your kitchen, you're about to become BFFs.

I found this trick a few years ago and it really changed my baking for the better since I lack any sort of patience. :D

Keep the butter in the fridge right up until you want to use it, and then peel away the wrapper from half of it. Use the wrapped part of the butter as a handle and grate it on the largest holes your grater has. Keep unwrapping and grating, it should take no time at all.

You can just set the grater down in the bowl you'll be working in - you'll get lovely butter ribbons that soften in no time!

You really only need a couple minutes of softening time this way since the ribbons are so thin! I almost always do this method so I can get to creaming the butter with sugar almost immediately. :)


harmonious1 (author)2015-10-02

Lots of comments, and I didn't read them all, so this may already have been added... After you have your butter grated or chopped up, spread it out on a tray lined with parchment, freeze and then use it in pie crust. Frozen fat makes good pie crust, and it's so hard to grate a frozen stick of butter.

martonthenagy (author)2015-08-18

Thanks for the idea.

pnosko (author)2015-08-03

The best way I've found to quickly soften but not melt cold or frozen butter is letting it sit in room temperature water. You may need to drain and replace the water a few times, depending on the temperature difference.

Fluids draw temperature changes much faster than air.

It works for eggs too.

samyuktha (author)2015-08-01

I want more of this

CharlineCaisse (author)2015-07-28

Now this is what I call clever!

lovethebackwoods (author)2015-07-27

I keep one or two sticks of butter at a time in a covered glass butter dish - it sits on the counter, remains at room temp, and is used up before it has time to even think about going bad. I prefer glass for such foods because it is the easiest to clean and retains no residue. I have less patience than your self-reported "none," jessyratfink - I would never have the patience to form tiny cubes or even grate butter! Good on ya!

bethmwl (author)2015-07-24

Great ideas. Think I'll try shredding it.

tanrazz (author)2015-07-23

In cooking school, we were taught to microwave cold butter at 10%-20% power(depending on your microwave's wattage) for about a minute--it gets it soft without turning it to liquid, but it can melt easily if you leave it too long. Once you can bend a stick of butter without it breaking, it's soft enough to bake with.

Robyn Ashton (author)2015-07-22

I usually chop it into small pieces but I LOVE the idea of grating come I hadn't thought of that !!!!! Well done!!!

Somebody_Else (author)2015-07-21

To soften butter, I put it in a plastic bag and squish it until it's pliable. This does not bring the butter to room temperature, but for a lot of baking, butter that is soft yet chilled actually works better than butter at room temperature.

doomswoman1 (author)2015-07-20

I have two things that I do, if I need softened butter: microwave for 20 sec. at temp #3 and the second (if my microwave isn't available) Boil some water in a pot, turn the pot off, then suspend the butter over the steam, for just a little while 'til there is enough to use. Not fancy, but useful. As for butter going rancid, I have the same question that I do with cheese: Since refrigerators weren't invented until the early 1900's and butter and cheese have existed for hundreds of years, how did everyone survive? I'm sure some people got sick, some people still get sick 'now'. But apparently, not enough to make people stop using it, so what did our ancestors do?

ReeceS4 (author)doomswoman12015-07-21

They had different cheese for starters made in completely different ways and they probably ate/used it in time plus their bodies would have built up a tolerance. We dont have this tolerance because we have adapted to using fridges and feezers.

But you are kind of correct because ive melted butter and put it back in the fridge and even left it out for weeks while using it at room temperature :)

CharlineCaisse (author)2015-07-21

among the most peculiar tricks I've seen lately!

madhusrigami (author)2015-07-21

very simple tips but will be of great help! thank you...

BartholomewH (author)2015-07-21

how could have I never thought of this before.....

amberharding82 (author)2015-07-20

Chop it up (facepalm to me)... no more waiting at least

PiEyedDave (author)2015-07-20

900 - 1100 watt Microwaves will soften FROZEN butter in 12 seconds. Set frozen wrapped stick on paper plate in middle of rotor plate. 12 seconds on high. Great for emergency pancakes at 3am

gbrown7 (author)2015-07-20

I have an additional trick I use, basically in combination with your method #1: Instead of putting the butter on a plate, put it on a frying pan, preferably a big heavy one at room temperature, or on the bottom of a big stock pot. It acts as a big heat sink, but won't heat the butter past room temperature. Very scientific.

grey_starr (author)gbrown72015-07-20

Aluminum would work fastest with this method - and works for defrosting frozen anything.

gbrown7 (author)grey_starr2015-07-20

Copper's even better, if you have it. Or, better yet, silver! Thickness also factors in heavily, and what I have that's thick is a heavy cast iron frying pan. Have a slab of silver on hand? Butter it up!

grapenut (author)2015-07-20

Simple, cheap, effective; some of my favorite Instructable characteristics...loved it...

jchuckjohns (author)2015-07-20 was cinnamon toast. ;)

jchuckjohns (author)2015-07-20

This is too funny. I was just dealing with this exact problem no more than five minutes before I sat down, checked my e - mail and found this article.

I used the microwave method. :)

Edbed (author)2015-07-16

These are some great ideas, but it is easier just to not keep all your butter in the fridge.

thundrepance (author)Edbed2015-07-19

that can spoil & make some people sick.

Edbed (author)thundrepance2015-07-20

When butter spoils it is often not caused by any microbes but due to oxidation which makes it go rancid, this is temperature dependent and so it would oxidise slightly faster at room temp than in a fridge. However, if you keep your butter covered it should not go rancid before you have used it, which is probably a few days.

I think if butter left out made people sick, people would not have ever used, or designed a object to store it in at room temperature. Also many bacteria which could be present in butter will make it go rancid but not be a danger to human health. In fact some butter is deliberately contaminated with some bacteria to alter the flavour.

chris.gaines.71 (author)Edbed2015-07-19

My house is frequently 85* through out the year ... butter in fridge!

Jobar007 (author)Edbed2015-07-16

I live in an un-airconditioned house. In the summer it regularly reaches 90* F in there. If I left butter out, all I would have would be melted butter. It would also spoil a lot faster in that kind of heat.

sadhbh (author)2015-07-20

I've been using a trick that I learned from a TV show with Mary Berry (British queen of baking!): she dices the butter and puts it in warm water - yep, right into the water - lets it soften, then drains off the water/scoops out the butter. For cakes it's perfect - a little water clinging to the butter makes not difference to the batter, and if you use the bowl you're going to be making the cake in it's one less thing to wash up!

Cheese Queen (author)2015-07-20

Still another use for that grater.

Grating *frozen* butter into cold pastry flour (I keep my flour in the freezer when planning on pie crusts) eliminates the "cutting in" step and makes for great flaky pie crusts with minimal effort.

Easy peasy- work fast and use cold! flour and cold !!! butter or lard for the flakiest pastry.

darklotus (author)2015-07-20

Grate minds think alike! *pun intended!* I went through the same processes as you. I did the chopping bit for years (my mum and grandmother taught me that one as a kid) and then I came up with the idea of grating it and have done so ever since. Although I've done this for a while, I'd never thought to post it - Kudos to you! Many people will appreciate it - like all good ideas, it's worth spreading... (you may groan now). :P

Treasure Tabby (author)2015-07-15

Nice. Here's another. Have some really hot water in one bowl. Then nest another bowl on top or a pot with the butter in it. It melts quite quickly even if not so evenly. :)

schabanow (author)Treasure Tabby2015-07-17

The trick is to make butter SOFT but not to melt it. Melted butter has absolutely another taste. Hot water doesn't work this way.

tkjtkj (author)schabanow2015-07-19

Yes, it does taste different, melted. but also it has another interesting feature: it wont go bad/rancid! Most organisms need water .. and when butter is melted it will separate into its water layer and the fat... If it's melted in a measuring cup ( I mean 4 UNwrapped sticks in a Litre cup! .. into the 'nuker' for 20-sec 'bursts' til all melted .. it then can easily be separated. I then pour the melted butter layer into a 500cc+ jar with tight lid .. I put it in fridge UPSIDE DOWN .. where the remaining water will settle against the tight lid .. Keeping it cold/solid , remove from fridge, uncap , and use VERY cold water to 'rince' the remaining non-butter solids ...

The product is 'ghee' ( if water is removed by heat, which is commonly done in other nations) and will not go bad in a 'butter bell' on the table.

Alton's method 'over does it' but gives a nutty flavor.. His lasts at table for a month .. my experience is that it stays good for much longer )

(I dont use ghee for making omlets, cuz i wANT 'water' in the pan with the EEVOO .. so steam will raise the omlet from the pan and allow 'flipping/rolling' it up .. in the french fashion_)

schabanow (author)tkjtkj2015-07-19

> ... so steam will raise the omlet from the pan and allow 'flipping/rolling' it up .. in the french fashion_)

Once I saw on TV one chineese coocking omlet just in the street. That was a SHOW. )) There was big hemisphered frying pan with a lot of vegetable oil in it, just like in free potatoe' process. That guy made a vortex in the hot oil with a big spoon and then quickly poured omlet suff in the peripherial area of that 'hot oil tornado'. The result was a SPIRAL shaped omelette! )) I like that kind of tricks very much. I like to SEE, not to accomplish. ))

schabanow (author)tkjtkj2015-07-19


Oh, that is sth SPECIAL (brown milk fats!!) - NOT usual melted butter... Some kind of BOILED butter, not just melted... Thank you for the link!

schabanow (author)tkjtkj2015-07-19

I see. We here in order to prevent butter from going bad just buy a 'week-size' bar and go to market weekly to buy fresh one. Another method is freezing big bar down to 10 .. 15 C deg with the minus and chop off 'butter bell sized bar' weekly, with a knife and kitchen hummer (any tricks, it's easy).

Frozen butter can be stored for a long time in your fridge, up to several months, and then can be warmed up to usual fresh butter. I think you will be really troubled to make difference in their tastes, contrary to 'melted_frozen_butter vs fresh butter" contest.

my mom does that! :)

pmshah (author)2015-07-19

I use a microwave oven set at 20% power and run it for like 5 - 6 seconds. Works for me.

Bigredhawg (author)2015-07-19

thank you thank you

this is great, (for me)

i make cookies at all hours also. lol

i have the same same problem

thank you for helping me to get to baking quicker...

The Black Python (author)2015-07-19

20 secs in the microwave dose a pound of butter pretty well

nehmo (author)2015-07-19

Life is finite in time, and every minute I use washing dishes is lost forever to that dull purpose. If I were to use a grater to soften butter, then I would have yet another implement causing a subtraction from my better life.

We must thus find a method of softening butter without the method causing additional labor. Let us think. Isn't patience a virtue? And isn't planning fundamental to being human?

Arsehole1 (author)2015-07-19

I don't want to bake cake, just want to butter my bread. HELP!!!

the norm (author)Arsehole12015-07-19

Make Better Butter. Put equal parts butter and olive oil into a food processor, run it for a bit (my wife knows how long). Put it into a sealable container into the fridge.

In the morning when you want your toast, or to make you lunch or what ever, it is as spreadable as margarine, but tastes lots better.

I don't think it is as good for baking as butter is though.

bmorgan-2 (author)Arsehole12015-07-19

get one of these. they work great and are easy to find on internet

jinjelle (author)2015-07-19

I just put a slab on my hot toast and let it sit a minute or two, then spread it.

mrbonine (author)2015-07-19

These methods are both new to me! I've tried using s a pastry cutter - big mess, big fail. Thank you for this! I have a similar problem when I'm making toast, or buttering bread when too lazy to cook pasta. If butter in fridge (not freezer) cut off a piece and smear it along the inside angle of porcelain or glass (not paper or plastic plate). Many plates have an angle where they transition between the plane of the table at the base to create a circle (usually) on a plane slightly above the table. Given a plate at room temp and 1 to 2 oz butter or takes less than 10 seconds to soften using the the method below. My fridge is set 34°F and room temp around 73°F. The idea is use that angle to smear and squish the butter gently with your dull butter-type knife. You need a solid flatware knife without a sharp edge that isn't flexible. Lay the plate on a flat, solid surface and smear while working the butter. Only a dull, non flexible knife works - Do Not use anything sharp or flexible as you will injure yourself and risk sending that wonderful butter to splat against a nearby wall, appliance, person, or pet.

Seth C (author)2015-07-19

How about one of these for spreading "hard" butter

John L (author)2015-07-19

Somehow, judging from the responses, I thought this was about "softening" the butter, not melting it. Just saying...................

ronopotomus (author)2015-07-19

Excellent Instructable! Thanks!!

About This Instructable




Bio: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working ... More »
More by jessyratfink:DIY Gold SlimeHow to Hand Embroider Flowers How to Clean A Coffee Maker with Citric Acid
Add instructable to: