Tips & Techniques > How to Thaw or Soften Butter

Frozen butter takes at least 8 hours to thaw in the refrigerator or about 3 to 4 hours to thaw at room temperature.

If a recipe calls for softened butter, frozen butter should be left out at room temperature for several hours or overnight. Soft butter should be somewhat malleable and still cool (around 65 degrees Fahrenheit). At this temperature, the butter will be able to incorporate the maximum amount of air. The butter should not be warm, oily or extremely soft.

If you realize last minute that you need room temperature or thawed butter for a recipe, then here are a few suggestions on how to achieve this. Just keep in mind that if the butter melts and is not softened properly some cake and cookie recipes can wind up having a less desirable texture.

Cut the butter into small chunks or cubes: Spread the chunks out on a plate and let sit at room temperature. The smaller pieces should only take about 30 minutes or so to thaw and warm to room temperature.

Grate the butter: The small pieces of butter will soften almost immediately. Let sit for about 15 to 30 minutes or until it comes to room temperature.

Use a Water Bath: Place the butter into a sealable plastic bag and then place into a bowl of room temperature water. This will considerably cut down on the time it will take to thaw the butter.

Pound or Roll the Butter: Place the butter (without the wrapper) into a sealable plastic bag and then use a rolling pin to gently roll or pound out the butter. A meat tenderizer or the bottom of a fry pan can also be used. Once the butter has flattened slightly leave to sit at room temperature until soft.

Note: This method will not work for rock hard butter. This method is used more for butter that is cold from the refrigerator. You may also want to cut the butter up a bit first.

Note: Thawing butter in the oven or microwave is not really recommended unless your recipe calls for melted butter. You almost always wind up with hot melted butter in the center and other areas that are still partially frozen. If you choose to use the microwave, heat the butter using 5-second increments and be careful not to let the butter melt.