There are a few questions about butter that come up from time to time, so let’s set the record straight with a quick Q & A.
If the recipe doesn’t say unsalted or salted butter, which do I use? Bakers and chefs usually choose unsalted butter in their recipes because it’s easier to manage the salt content in the dish. Most recipes that call for butter—especially baked goods and desserts—are created with unsalted butter. It is the standard in baking and is always implied unless otherwise specified.
Can I adjust the amount of salt in a recipe if I am using salted butter? Yes and no. Each manufacturer of salted butter uses a different amount of salt to create their product, so it’s impossible to create a perfect substitution scale for salted butter. However, here is a general rule to follow that works pretty well: for every 1/2 cup (one stick) of butter called for, decrease the amount of salt by 1/4 teaspoon.
When should I choose salted butter over unsalted butter? Think of salted butter as a condiment—something that is added singularly to enhance whatever you’re eating, like ketchup or mustard. For example, I like to use salted butter to spread on warm bread, muffins, or my corn on the cob. It adds a more savory flavor and (bonus!) I don’t have to add any salt!
Using the right butter in your baking and cooking is a small thing that makes a big difference. Your results will taste like—well, they’ll taste like buttah!