Learn 4 ways to soften butter fast when you forget to take it out ahead of time! I’ll show you how to soften the butter using a microwave, a box grater, or just simply a sharp knife!
You decided to go to the effort to make some homemade chocolate chip cookies or perfect vanilla cupcakes. Your knee deep into the recipe. Flour’s measured. Oven’s pre-heating away. Then you realize you forgot to take your butter out.
You know if you use that butter straight from the fridge your dessert is going to flop. But if you microwave it like you have in the past, you’re likely to end up with big old puddles instead of perfectly softened sticks.
Having perfectly softened butter is uber-important when it comes to baked goods. Butter that has been softened correctly means that the butter will incorporate into your dry ingredients. No weird chunks of butter that just won’t play nice. So what do you do? Wait around staring at that butter, willing it to soften faster?
Nope. I got 4 easy ways for you to soften your butter for you that will work in minutes so you can get back to that bowl of goodness.
Why Do You Need Softened Butter When Baking?
If you are making chocolate chip cookies, you need to use creaming method softened butter means the sugar can basically punch holes in the butter which means air can get inside. Air is your friend in baking. If the butter is too cold, and your baked goods will not be able to incorporate enough air. That could mean heavy dense baked goods as opposed to light and fluffy ones. We want light and fluffy, friends.
If the butter is too warm (aka melty spots) then again the same thing happens. All those air bubbles collapse.
So too cold or too warm = fat won’t hold the air.
Anyone feel like we are in the middle of a children’s fairy tale? That butter was too cold, and that butter was too warm. But this butter was just riiiiiiiiiight.
How do you know if the butter is softened properly? Softened butter means it gives slightly when pressed or about 67 degrees if you want to get technical.
So we know we need softened butter. Now in a perfect world we would all remember to take our butter waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay before we ever intended to bake something. But I don’t live in that world, do you? In fact, I almost never remember take my butter out beforehand and I have a baking blog!
So what is a girl to do? Never bake? Ha, yea right. Not gonna happen folks.
We can soften our butter. Quickly. And perfectly. And I have four different ways to do so.
How To Soften Butter Method #1: Cubing
Take your butter out of the fridge. Cut the butter up into small chunks or cubes. The smaller the chunks the faster it will come to room temperature. Then wait (could be 30 minutes or more depending on the temperature of your kitchen).
How To Soften Butter Method Using The Microwave (no water)
This is my most favorite method. The microwave. My favorite but also the trickiest. This method could go from awesome to ah crap quickly.
I place my butter in a bowl and then microwave on 20% power for 30 seconds. Flip and repeat. I will check it and decide if it needs more time, and then go in smaller amounts of time (10 second intervals), still at reduced power. Every microwave is different, so go slow and check frequently.
How To Soften Butter Using Microwave (and water)
Another way to soften using the microwave that could provide more control. Microwave a cup of water for 2-3 minutes. Eeew, thanks overhead kitchen lighting for this photo…
Then place your butter pieces on a plate spread out so they can all soften equally and place in the microwave with the water.
The steam from the water will soften your butter, which will take about 10 minutes. (if your butter is still not quite soft enough, then just repeat this method again!)
How To Soften Butter Using A Box Grater
This method came from a reader! You can use a food box grater to grate the butter and let it sit for 10 minutes.
“When I need to soften it I grate it on the large holes of a box grater and let it sit about 10 minutes. Works with frozen butter also.” – Jim
How To Soften Butter
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
Method #1: Cubing
- Cube up the butter needed for the recipe in tablespoons or smaller and let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes (may take longer depending on the temperature in your kitchen).
Method #2: Microwave (no water)
- Place your stick of butter on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 30 seconds at 20% butter. Flip over and repeat. (may need to repeat 1-2 more times).
Method #3: Microwave (with water)
- Heat a microwave safe cup of water for 2-3 minutes. Place butter on a plate next to it. Keep microwave door closed for 10 minutes to let butter soften.
Method #4: Food Grater
- Use a food box grater, grate the butter. Let the butter pieces sit out at room temperature until softened.