Skip to content

How to Soften Butter

Learn 4 quick ways to soften butter when you need it for baking! These easy tips help you speed up the process in just a matter of minutes.

sliced butter on plate
This post may contain affiliate links. Read disclosure policy.

Perfect for Last Minute Baking

There’s nothing worse than getting ready to make cookies and realizing you need softened butter. It happens to us all. But have no fear, I’m going to show you how to soften butter quickly for all of your baking needs.

There are many ways to soften butter from setting it out on the counter to microwave steaming. Each method works great, so it really all depends on time and preference. I’m going to give you a few tips on how to speed up the process if you need to so that you’ll have perfectly softened butter in no time.

Why Do We Soften Butter for Baking?

Most baking recipes start with the simple step of creaming together the butter and sugar. Hard, cold butter is difficult to mix, resulting in a lumpy texture. When mixed with sugar, softened butter will create a smooth and creamy consistency that is the perfect base for your baked goods.

Room Temperature Butter

Total time: 1 hour

You may be wondering how long it takes to soften butter. Similar to softening cream cheese, I’ve found that the best way to soften butter is to set it out on the counter about 1-2 hours prior to baking.

You can unwrap it and cut into small cubes to speed up the softening time. Once cut, it should only take 15-30 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when you can press a fingerprint into it.

stick of butter on plate

How to Soften Butter in Microwave

Total time: 20 seconds

This method is a little more dangerous because it’s easier to melt the butter this way. You want to make sure you set your microwave to 50% power and microwave in 5 second increments. Flip after 5 seconds and press the butter after 10 seconds to see if it has softened.

pressing finger into softened butter

Microwave Steaming

Total time: 7 minutes

Slice the butter and set it on a plate. Place a bowl or cup with hot water in the microwave. Microwave for 2 minutes or until it is steaming. Remove the water and then place the plate into the microwave and let sit for about 5 minutes, or until it has softened.

whipping butter with an electric mixer

Whipping the Butter

Total time: 2 minutes

Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and place in the bowl. Then place on the stand mixer and attach the beater. Beat on low speed for 1-2 minutes, or until softened. Make sure to scrape down the sides half way so it gets evenly whipped. This works great for recipes where you’ll already need the butter in the bowl.

sliced butter on plate

Favorite Baking Recipes:

sliced butter on plate

How to Soften Butter

Learn 4 quick ways to soften butter when you need it for baking! These easy tips help you speed up the process in just a matter of minutes.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins

Equipment

  • Plate
  • Knife
  • Bowl or cup of hot water (if microwave steaming)
  • Stand mixer with bowl and beater (if whipping)

Ingredients 

  • 1 stick butter

Instructions

  • Counter method: Set the stick of butter out on the counter to soften about 1-2 hours before using. You can also cube the butter and let it sit out on a plate so that it softens faster (this usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes). You’ll know it’s ready when you can press a fingerprint into it.
    stick of butter on plate
  • Microwave method: Unwrap and place on a microwave safe plate. Set the microwave to 50% power and microwave for 5 seconds. Flip and microwave for 5 additional seconds. Press on the butter after 10 seconds to see if it has softened. If it is still hard, microwave in 5 second increments until softened.
    pressing finger into softened butter
  • Microwave steaming: Unwrap, slice into cubes and set on a plate. Place a bowl or cup with hot water in the microwave. Microwave for 2 minutes or until it is steaming. Remove the water and then place the butter plate into the microwave and let sit for about 5 minutes, or until it has softened.
    sliced butter on plate
  • Whipping method: Unwrap and cut into 1/2-inch slices and place in the bowl of your stand mixer. Then place the bowl on the stand mixer and attach the beater. Beat on low speed for 1-2 minutes, or until softened. Make sure to scrape down the sides half way so it gets evenly whipped.
    whipping butter with an electric mixer

Author: Jamielyn Nye

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Let’s connect

Join our community of over 5 million!

Featured on

  • Taste of Home
  • Martha Stewart
  • Country Living
  • BuzzFeed
  • Yahoo
  • Food Network
  • Today