You’re making a recipe and need softened butter quickly. What do you do?
Ideally, butter should be removed from the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to use to allow it to properly soften, according to Dr. Susan Larson, our technical expert from Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. The butter may be cut into smaller pieces (like 1/8-inch slices), which would shorten the time required to soften the butter. Similarly, some choose to grate cold butter so it can soften even more quickly.
While you can microwave sticks of butter on the defrost setting (30 percent power), you’ll want to check it at five-second intervals – and this method isn’t recommended if you plan to bake with the butter.
Additionally, Dr. Larson recommends that you only soften the amount of butter that is needed. You can measure it before you grate or cut it into smaller pieces. After use, any remaining butter should be covered or re-wrapped and returned to the refrigerator.