Salt In Butter: Salted vs. Unsalted Butter

Published Categorized as Ingredients

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Of all the ingredients you use when cooking or baking, butter is one of the most important. Providing flavor and texture, you can choose between salted or unsalted butter for your recipes. But when it comes to salt in butter, you are wondering how much salt is in butter, how much salt is in one stick of butter, and whether using salted or unsalted butter will work best for your recipe. To make sure your next cake, pie, or dinner dish turns out great, here’s everything you need to know about salted and unsalted butter.

Table of Contents

How Much Salt is in Salted Butter?

When you decide to use salted butter as part of your recipe, you probably assume like many other people that all salted butter has the same amount of salt. However, that’s not the case. Since each brand of butter can decide how much salt to add to its butter, the amount can vary.

Should you have a recipe where the salt content will make a noticeable difference regarding taste, be aware that some brands of butter can have twice as much salt as their competitors. Along with the taste factor, those who need to limit their salt intake can also be confused about the variations between brands. Therefore, it becomes even more important to look closely at the nutritional information on the box.

Salt In Butter_ Salted vs. Unsalted Butter_alice's kitchen

How Much Salt is in One Stick of Butter?

Though the amount of salt in butter can vary, the amount of salt in one stick of butter is actually somewhat uniform. According to the National Dairy Council, a typical stick of salted butter has about 1.7 percent salt, yet there are no minimum or maximum restrictions on how much salt salted butter can actually contain.

When cooking or baking, it is best if you remember that one stick of butter on average contains about one-third teaspoon salt, two sticks contain three-quarter teaspoon salt, and four sticks of butter about 1.5 teaspoon salt. In terms of grams, one gram of butter will have eight milligrams of salt.

When is it Best to Use Salted or Unsalted Butter?

Depending on what you are cooking or baking, how important a role salt will play in the taste of your food, and whether or not salt intake is a concern, you’ll have a decision to make as to whether you want to use salted or unsalted butter.

One of the major advantages butter brings to any recipe is that it gives the food a creamy and rich texture, which is very important when you are preparing most any type of dessert. Also when baking, butter gives baked foods additional fat and flavor, while acting as a leavening agent and liquid.

For desserts, most chefs recommend against using salted butter. In fact, many dessert recipes will specify unsalted butter as the type to be used. When you have too much salt in a dessert, you’ll wind up with a savory taste to your dish, rather than the sweet taste you desire.

But when it comes to cooking something for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, salted butter can be one of your best friends. Always a great way to enhance the flavor of whatever you are cooking, salted butter is regularly used when cooking pasta, meats, and vegetables, creating sauces, and of course for spreading on practically any type of bread.

Overall, it is much better for the salt content to vary a bit when cooking versus baking, since even a bit more salt in pasta or other dishes tends to not dramatically alter the desired flavor.

What if the Recipe Does Not Specify Salted or Unsalted Butter?

If you do a fair amount of cooking, you will eventually run across a recipe that calls for butter, but does not specifically state either salted or unsalted butter should be used. In this situation, it usually means you will be fine using whichever type of butter you prefer or happen to have on hand. If there is any doubt in your mind, you should stick to unsalted butter.

In some recipes, especially those that are older, you may see different terms being used for salted and unsalted butter. Salted butter may be referred to as sweet cream butter, while unsalted butter will simply be called sweet butter.

Salted vs. Unsalted Butter_Alice's Kitchen

Substituting Butters

When substituting butters, it’s not as hard as you may think. First of all, if you want complete control of how much salt will be in your recipe, use unsalted butter and then add whatever amount of salt you desire.

If you decide to substitute salted butter for unsalted butter, you’ll need to reduce the amount of salt called for by the recipe by one-quarter teaspoon for each stick of butter needed. However, should you have unsalted butter but need salted instead, you’ll add one-quarter teaspoon for every stick of butter.

Are There Advantages to Using One Butter Over Another?

When it comes to various advantages between salted and unsalted butter, it seems that salted butter tends to win out in this battle.

For starters, salted butter can last far longer than unsalted butter. Since the salt in it acts as a preservative, you can expect your salted butter to last up to five months when stored in your fridge, and perhaps as long as nine months if you freeze it.

However, salted butter can be left out at room temperature without too many side effects, other than perhaps lessening its freshness and reducing its shelf life a bit.

Finally, if you love using butter as a topping or to spread on your bread, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, or other similar foods, salted butter will give your food more flavor than unsalted butter.

While some aspects of cooking and baking call for a dash of this and a pinch of that, knowing all you can about salt in butter can be a big factor in whether you hit a home run or strike out with your next culinary creation. By keeping the tips mentioned here at the ready while baking or cooking, you should have food that will have everyone who eats it begging for more.


How Much Salt is in Salted Butter?

A stick of salted butter contains slightly less than two percent salt, which is equal to about one-third teaspoon of salt.

Is There A Lot of Salt in Butter?

Generally, there is not a tremendous amount of salt in butter. Though necessary to provide the proper taste for many foods, too much salt can do more harm than good in most recipes.

Is Salt Necessary in Butter?

No, salt is not necessary in butter. In fact, unsalted butter is used in many types of recipes, including many of the most delicious desserts.

What Happens When You Put Salt on Butter?

When you put salt on butter, it of course gives it a saltier taste. But along with this, you also get butter than has a much longer shelf life, since the salt acts as a preservative. Also, salt will not dissolve in fats, so it has to do so in the butter’s water component. In one stick of unsalted butter, one teaspoon of salt will dissolve.