It is incredibly frustrating to bake a perfect batch of cookies that look amazing, and when you take that first bite, you get a severe explosion of salt.
Then you realize that you used salted butter instead of unsalted.
But if all you have is salted butter in the fridge, then here is how to tell how much to reduce the salt in your recipe.
How Much to Reduce Salt When Using Salted Butter in Place of Unsalted Butter
For each ½ cup of salted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe by ¼ teaspoon. Doing this will avoid having your finished product taste too salty.
Salted Butter vs. Unsalted Butter
When baking, it is always important to check whether or not salted or unsalted butter is required.
I would recommend always following the recipe as closely as possible when baking with butter.
However, using salted butter and reducing the salt in the recipe will not drastically affect the overall taste of the finished food.
What will ultimately destroy your dessert is using salted butter and not reducing the salt in the rest of the recipe.
There are different levels of salt amongst the many brands of salted butter.
However, most of the levels of salt in salted butter will still work with the ratio of reducing ¼ tsp of salt for every ½ cup of salted butter.
If a recipe does not specify what type of butter to use, there are a couple of things to consider that will help you have the best result.
The first thing to watch for when the type of butter is not specified is whether the recipe also calls for salt.
Generally, if the recipe calls for butter and salt, then unsalted butter should be used.
If you only have salted butter, then you should reduce the salt according to the ratio mentioned above.
In many ways, the two types of butter are interchangeable, but not in baking.
But salted butter is better for certain types of cooking while unsalted butter is better for others.
Here is a rundown to show the advantages of each kind of butter.
When to Use Unsalted Butter
Unsalted butter is most commonly used when baking. If you are making cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries, more often than not, the recipes will call for unsalted butter.
When baking, the amount of salt is minimal in most recipes.
This does not mean that salted butter cannot be used for baking or that some recipes will not call to use salted butter.
The use of unsalted butter is based chiefly on the fact that most baked goods are not meant to be savory.
Often, baked goods are less savory than other foods cooked in different ways.
Salt highlights flavors and adds a delicious taste to whatever it is added to.
Therefore, salt is not a primary ingredient for many baking recipes.
Unless the recipe calls for it, assume that unsalted butter is desired when making a baked dessert.
However, do not make the mistake of using unsalted butter instead of salted butter while baking.
Salt is a vital ingredient in baked goods, even in small quantities. Too much will ruin a recipe, and the same can be said if you do not have enough.
If the recipe you are using calls for salted butter, and you use unsalted, you will miss the important savory addition to your recipe.
When to Use Salted Butter
Salted butter is beneficial when cooking other types of food.
The salt in the butter will add a savory flavor to whatever you are cooking.
When frying food, cooking vegetables, or preparing meat, salted butter performs much better than unsalted.
While the butter provides delicious fat to add flavor to the food, the salt will highlight the natural flavors of whatever you are cooking.
Unsalted butter would not provide the savory flavor to these types of food.
Another type of food that salted butter is used for is in sauces. For any savory sauce, salted butter is far superior to unsalted.
Lastly, salted butter is preferable as a spread for bread and toast. It should be your go-to spread to add to those carbohydrates.
While you will need to stash unsalted butter for baking, make sure to keep your salted butter in a dish close by.
You will have plenty of uses for the salted butter in your house.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Much to Reduce Salt When Using Salted Butter in Place of Unsalted Butter
If I only have unsalted butter, can I add salt to make it more savory?
Adding salt to your unsalted butter is not an exact science. However, it can be done. But be warned, there is a lot of room for error, and unless you soften the butter and mix it well, you will have grainy or crunchy butter.
Is there any difference between salted and unsalted butter other than salt?
Salt is really the only difference between the two kinds of butter. Both are made from the cream of milk, and the salted butter simply has the added salt.
In many ways, the type of butter you use is a matter of preference and taste.
However, in the baking world, the two are not interchangeable.
It is vital to reduce the salt in the recipe if you want to use salted butter.
However, do not stress if you only have one or the other; there are ways to make them both work regardless of the situation.
Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)
Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.