Baking Tip: Salted vs. Unsalted Butter

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!
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