Skip to main content

How to soften butter: 4 easy ways (no microwave necessary)

No microwave? No problem! Soften butter quickly and easily with these tips

sliced butter
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Let me guess — you’ve forgotten to take the butter out of the refrigerator. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Softening butter is a crucial step in many recipes, and if you’ve forgotten to take it out of the fridge soon enough, your batter or dough will be full of gross lumps and chunks. The most common solution to this is to go straight to the microwave. That said, what if you don’t have one or prefer not to use it? 

Fortunately, there are several ways to soften butter quickly without one. With just a few common household items, it can be done in a blink of an eye.

Let’s get to it and save your recipe!

unwrapped butter on a plate
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Softening refrigerated butter without a microwave isn’t as hard as you think

When butter is kept in the refrigerator, it becomes hard and difficult to spread, which can be inconvenient when you need to use it in a recipe or on toast. What if I told you that you could soften your refrigerated butter? Here are my favorite ways: 

Use a mesh strainer for instant results

The key to softening butter without a microwave is to get it into pieces that are as small as possible. This increases the surface area of the butter, enabling the air to help warm it up. A metal mesh strainer is definitely the easiest way to do this. 

  1. First, take your refrigerated butter out and fold open the wrapper. Don’t take it completely off, though! Leave the wrapper along three of the longer sides. That way, you won’t get any butter on your hands. 
  2. With one hand, hold the butter by the wrapper and run the bottom of the mesh strainer along the exposed side of your butter. You might need to press down a little bit, but strands of butter will collect inside of the mesh strainer. 
  3. When you’ve collected enough butter, flip the strainer over a bowl and tap so that the butter falls in. 

Cube the butter to soften in 15 minutes

If you don’t have a mesh strainer, a handy knife and cutting board will also do the trick. That said, be careful which knife you pick! A bench knife is a lot safer for cutting butter due to its broad blade, which allows you to put even pressure as you cut. Here’s how:

  1. Unwrap your butter and place it onto your cutting board. It’s a good idea to place a layer of parchment over your cutting board first so that your butter won’t stick to it. Alternatively, you could use the very wrapper the butter came in, but that won’t give you much space to work with. 
  2. After that, it’s time to start cubing! Use your bench knife to cut the butter lengthwise, then rotate the butter so you can cut it lengthwise again. Then, make slices from one end and work your way up. 
  3. Let the slices sit in a warm spot in the kitchen for about 10 more minutes, and your butter should be ready to go!
cubed butter in a bowl
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to soften frozen butter

If you’ve ever tried to use frozen butter for a recipe, you know how difficult it can be to work with. Frozen butter is incredibly hard, and it can feel like you’re scraping a rock when you try to cut it. However, there are a few methods you can use to quickly soften frozen butter and make it easier to work with.

Grate the butter to soften in 10 minutes

Unsure of how to soften frozen butter? Try grating it like cheese. This could work with refrigerated butter as well, but you might end up with some greasy hands afterward. 

  1. First, look through your kitchen and find a box grater or a handheld cheese grater. I highly recommend finding a bowl or a cutting board to collect your butter as well. 
  2. Unwrap one end of your butter and run that along the grater. As you work, let the butter fall onto your cutting board or into your bowl, then let it sit there for a few minutes to warm up at room temperature. 

The hot glass method 

One of the quickest and most effective methods for softening butter is to use a hot glass. 

  1. To get started, fill a glass with hot water and let it sit for a minute or so to allow the heat to warm the glass. This glass should be sturdy, such as a glass measuring cup, and able to withstand heat. 
  2. Carefully dump out the water and place the warm glass upside down over the cold butter, which should be standing upright on a plate. The warmth from the glass will create a small, enclosed space around the butter that will trap the heat and help the butter soften more quickly.
  3. Wait for about 10 minutes and then check to see if the butter is ready. If it’s not completely softened yet, cube the butter using the instructions above and let it sit in a warm spot in the kitchen for a few more minutes. 
grated butter
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Final thoughts

Softening butter without a microwave is not only possible, but also easy with the right techniques. Whether you’re making cookies or cakes or you just want to enjoy some buttered toast, these methods will come in handy when you need to soften cold or frozen butter quickly. Give these methods a try and enjoy perfectly softened butter every time.

Editors' Recommendations

Sarah Joseph
Sarah is a lover of all things outdoors. With a bright sense of adventure and a heart for the mountains, she is always…
Want to know how to build muscle? A doctor says you should eat these foods
If you're looking to bulk up those biceps, these are the foods you should be eating
Fish fillets, chicken meat, and red meat on top of distressed white cutting boards along with nuts, cheese, dairy, and eggs.

Figuring out how to build muscle can be terribly confusing. Between the madness of the latest trends in health, fad diets, the newest "must-have" workout gear, and toxic weight-loss culture, it's easy to want to throw in the towel and reach for a box of Twinkies. But hidden in all of this confusion, there are some things about fitness and muscle growth that are just always true. The biggest truth of them all is that abs really are made in the kitchen. You can work yourself into a frenzy with a fancy gym membership, but without proper nutrition, your body is just running on toxic fumes.

Muscle building requires a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Dr. Noel Abood, co-founder of Re:vitalize Weight Loss, shared with us his expert advice on the top foods to build muscle. These are foods that one should be eating for ultimate muscle growth. So if you've been frustrated with the results of your workout routine, or are looking to bulge those biceps a bit more, here are some of the foods you'll want to add to your grocery list.

Read more
5 simple tips for doing Thanksgiving wine the right way
What wine goes best with Thanksgiving turkey?
Food dinner meal on table for christmas and thanksgiving celebration

Everyone has their favorite thing on the Thanksgiving table. For some, it's the green bean casserole. For others, it's the cranberry sauce. For me, it's the wine. For many, many reasons, wine is an absolute necessity on Thanksgiving. Whether your intentions are pure and you're looking for the perfect pairing that complements and highlights each and every rich and savory note and flavor in your Thanksgiving dishes, or you just need a few glasses to get you through dinner with your in-laws — whatever the reason, wine is important.
Selecting the perfect varietal for such a high-pressure dinner such as Thanksgiving, though, can be quite intimidating. Red or white? Light or robust? Fruity or earthy? Wine is a complicated language, and the pressure to understand it when you're already stressed about cooking and hosting is not an easy task to take on. That's why we're here with a few simple guidelines to help you select the perfect bottles to impress and please everyone around your holiday table.

Always have bubbles
Even people who don't drink wine like a little sparkle on a holiday. Bubbles feel celebratory and festive and are perfect for a big holiday like Thanksgiving. There are so many delicious bubbles to choose from, from champagne to cava to prosecco to Lambrusco, and the possibilities are immense. And contrary to popular opinion, sparkling wines needn't be expensive to be good. There are plenty of absolutely delicious sparkling wines for less than $30.

Read more
Our mashed potato recipe is the only one you’ll ever need (and it’s easy to memorize, too!)
This mashed potato recipe is, dare we say, perfect
Mashed potatoes

It's no secret that mashed potatoes are every bit as much the star of the Thanksgiving table as the turkey. Perhaps even more so in some cases. After all, mashed potatoes are the harbinger of gravy, which, let's be real, is the actual star of the show. As important as they are, though, mashed potatoes can come with some unappetizing setbacks. If your mashed potato recipe is not executed perfectly, this Thanksgiving favorite can be lumpy or gluey, underseasoned and bland, too runny or too stiff. For such a simple dish, it certainly carries its fair share of potential pitfalls.

With this simple mashed potato recipe and method, though, perfect, Michelin-quality mashed potatoes can be easily achieved every single time. The best part? It's extremely simple to remember, so there's no need to bring out the crowded recipe box for this one. The ratio for perfect mashed potatoes is 4 parts Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 part heavy cream, and 1 part European butter. We love this simple 4:1:1 ratio because it's also easily scaled up or down, depending on the size of your gathering. For example, if you have 500 grams of potatoes, you'll use 125 grams of both cream and butter.

Read more