Learn how to soften butter quickly in this complete guide. We’ll take that cold, hard butter and bring it to the perfect room temperature in no time at all with these fast and easy softened butter tricks.

With these six simple methods to warm your butter, you’ll soon be warming hearts with your baking.

A single stick of salted butter on a marble countertop.
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As Julia Child said, “With enough butter, anything is good.”  I believe that with all my heart. That’s the reason why I have made butter a staple ingredient in our home! 

During my weekly trip to the supermarket, I always make sure to stock up on salted butter. I can store the extra in my freezer until I’m ready to use. This way, I am never out of butter and have to make a special trip.

However, this can create a little dilemma if I forget to defrost the butter! I’ve shared with you my best tips to quickly softening cream cheese and now I want to share with you how to quickly soften butter. 

A single stick of butter on a white plate.

How to Soften Butter Quickly: A Complete Guide

Most, if not all baking recipes call for softened butter or room temperature butter. Softened butter allows you to mix or cream butter together with the other ingredients in your recipe.

To achieve perfect bakery quality desserts and smooth creamy frostings, I’ve found these tips to be the most impactful in my baking! 

Did you know that softened butter isn’t just a suggestion in baking… it’s actually a requirement? The temperature of your butter is so significant that many recipes will fail without the perfect room temperature butter that’s required to trap the air into the fat itself.

This is imperative to the process of creaming. 

A graphic image with a headline that reads "learn how to soften butter quickly" with a variety of images of softened butter techniques.

How to Soften Butter – Six Easy Methods

Before we give you these six easy methods, here are a few of my favorite tips, tricks and tidbits about butter!

Tips

  • Yes, you can leave salted butter out on the counter (covered) overnight to defrost and soften. This may surprise you, but leaving salted butter out on the counter overnight is perfectly safe.
  • Some safety experts say it is a matter of preference whether to refrigerate salted butter for longer times, or not. Personally, I err on the side of refrigeration for long term storage.
  • Need help with baking conversions? Check out my Essential Measurement Conversion Chart or use the slider in the recipe card.
  • While baking is traditionally done with unsalted butter, I tend to love a little balance of salty and sweet. We often have salted butter on hand, and use that for baking. Just be careful with additional salt so you don’t go overboard!
A single stick of salted butter on a marble countertop.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the quickest way to soften butter?

Of all six of these methods for getting softened butter quickly, the microwave method is fastest. However, it can also be the most difficult to manage.

What happens if you don’t soften butter?

Butter must be softened to room temperature in order to cream with the sugar in your baking. Otherwise, it will never reach the appropriate fluffy consistency, resulting in failed, flattened baking.

Leave Out on the Counter Method

I personally believe that allowing your butter to rest at room temperature is the best method for softening overall! 

Especially if you are trying to defrost frozen butter, this method is best. Simply leave your salted butter out on the countertop (covered) until you’re ready to use it in your baking.

Unsalted butter can also be left out for a few hours to soften as well. Without the preservative of salt though, unsalted butter should be refrigerated after a few hours or frozen for longer storage. 

Note: This method does take about 12 hours and is inconvenient if you are in a hurry. 

A single stick of salted butter on a marble countertop, paper unwrapped around it.

How to Soften Butter in the Microwave Method

The microwave is probably the fastest way to soften butter, especially if it is frozen. In my option, it is also the hardest method. The microwave has so much power that often the result is melted butter or unevenly softened butter. I do have a few tips though. 

  1. Place butter in a microwave safe bowl, and place the bowl in the microwave.
  2. Microwave for 3 seconds.
  3. Rotate butter and microwave again for 3 seconds.
  4. Do this until your butter is completely softened. 

Time consuming? Perhaps, but it’s still a much faster method to reaching your goal! 

A single stick of butter on a white plate in a drawer microwave.

Sliced Butter Method

If you’ve just taken your stick of butter out of the fridge (not freezer) you can cut the stick into slices and leave in a sunny spot for about 30 minutes. It will soften perfectly for baking. 

Another option is to use a box grater. Run your cold butter across the largest side of the grater. This grates the butter in large chunks which is perfect for softening quickly. This method will cut your softening time in about half.

Again… isn’t this image incredibly satisfying? Or maybe that’s just me. The butter love runs deep! 

A white plate full of pats of butter in a tutorial for how to soften butter quickly.

Method Four: Soften Under a Warmed Glass

This old-fashioned trick is just as easy as it sounds!

Add boiling water to a heat-safe glass. I like to leave it for about a minute to fully warm the glass through.

Dump the water, and turn the glass upside down over your stick of butter. The warmed dome affect softens your butter in just minutes without melting!

A single stick of butter on a white plate.

Rolling Pin Method

A wooden rolling pin next to a stick of butter that's placed in between two sheets of waxed paper.
  1. Lay your stick of butter between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap, and use your rolling pin to flatten the butter to about ¼ inch. A wooden rolling pin next to a stick of butter that's flattened in between two sheets of waxed paper.
  2. Flip the butter, uncovering it to then fold it in half, recover, and roll it out again, until it becomes pliable. Ideally, it will be about 1/4 of an inch thick. A wooden rolling pin next to a stick of butter that's flattened in between two sheets of waxed paper.
  3. Flip the butter a couple times, allowing it to rest with each flip. This brings it to the appropriate temperature and allows you to uncover and proceed. At this point, the butter should be softened enough to use.

Let’s be honest, it’s also a lot of fun and super satisfying to see that beautiful butter flattened out perfectly on your counter top! 

A stick of butter that has been flattened with a rolling pin in a tutorial for softened butter.

Water Bath Method 

Another easy trick is to give your butter a hot water bath. 

  1. Simply heat up some water to boiling or almost boiling in a medium size pot.
  2. Using a high heat safe glass bowl, place butter into bowl.
  3. Place the butter bowl on top of your pot with hot water creating a double broiler.
  4. For even faster softening time, use a lid on top of the butter bowl. 

This method can soften your butter fairly quickly. Slice your butter for even faster results.

A white plate full of pats of butter in a tutorial for how to soften butter quickly.

More Butter Inspiration

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How to Soften Butter Quickly

Learn how to soften butter quickly in this complete guide. We'll take that cold, hard butter and bring it to the perfect room temperature in no time at all with these fast and easy softened butter tricks.
Prep: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people
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Ingredients  

  • 1 cup butter salted or unsalted

Instructions 

In the Microwave

  • Microwave Butter on high for 3 seconds. Rotate butter and microwave again. Repeat until soft.

With a Rolling Pin

  • Place butter between 2 sheets of wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out butter to 1/4 inch thickness.

Water Bath Method

  • Create a double broiler and put butter in dish over a pot of hot water. Use a lid to help trap heat in the bowl containing the butter.

Grated Method

  • Grate using a cheese shredder. It will be soft in less than 10 minutes.

Sliced Method

  • If you’ve just taken your stick of butter out of the fridge (not freezer) you can cut the stick into slices and leave in a sunny spot for about 30 minutes. It will soften perfectly for baking.

Warmed Glass Method

  • Add boiling water to a heat-safe glass, leaving it for a minute to fully warm the glass through. Dump the water, and turn the glass upside down over your stick of butter. The warmed dome affect softens your butter in just minutes.

Julie’s Tips

Alternative Methods

  • Counter Method – Leave out salted butter on the counter covered overnight to defrost and soften. Unsalted can also be left out for a few hours.

Butter Tips

  • Yes, you can leave salted butter out on the counter (covered) overnight to defrost and soften. This may surprise you, but leaving salted butter out on the counter overnight is perfectly safe.
  • While baking is traditionally done with unsalted butter, I tend to love a little balance of salty and sweet. We often have salted butter on hand, and use that for baking. Just be careful with additional salt so you don’t go overboard!
 

Video

Calories: 203kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 7mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 709IU | Calcium: 7mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have been cutting slices of frozen butter directly into the flour while making dough. Thank you for pointing out that it can affect the temperature of the dough since butter is frozen. I am going to be mindful of that from now on.

  2. 5 stars
    This is super helpful! Always something that I struggle with because I am such a last minute baker and cook. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    I never knew the temperature of butter could affect my baking so much! I love the idea of grating the butter such an easy way to get it to soften. I have also done it where I put it on my stove top while I’m cooking to help warm it up.