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You’ve Been Using Unsalted Butter All Wrong – Here’s the Salt Trick You Need!

If you have unsalted butter, but you are making a recipe that calls for salted butter, don’t despair.

While salted butter and unsalted butter have slightly different tastes, it doesn’t mean your recipe will come out wrong.

By adding a bit of salt to your butter before using it, you can rectify the situation. Here is how much salt to add to unsalted butter.

Salted vs. Unsalted Butter: What’s the Difference?

Unsalted butter is regular butter, with no salt added. Salted butter, on the other hand, has had salt added to it.

Adding salt to butter serves several purposes.

For one, it gives the butter a saltier, more distinct taste than the more mellow taste of regular, unsalted butter.

In addition, salted butter lasts longer. That is because the added salt acts as a preservative, giving salted butter its longer shelf life.

How Much Salt Does Salted Butter Have?

You may be wondering how much added salt salted butter has, anyway. The answer is that it depends on the brand. T

here is no universal standard for how much extra salt salted butter has. Some brands might have 3% salt, while others may have 2%, 1.5%, or even 1%.

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Are Salted Butter and Unsalted Butter Interchangeable?

Can you substitute salted butter for unsalted butter?

Somewhat. Usually, if a recipe calls for unsalted butter, it is best to use unsalted butter. That’s because the recipe will probably tell you how much salt to add by itself as well.

If you use unsalted butter and also add the prescribed amount of salt, the food can come out too salty. On the other hand, if you only use salted butter and don’t add salt or add less salt, it might not have enough zest or flavor. It can be hard to adjust the recipe properly.

What’s more, if a recipe calls for salted butter, adding unsalted butter isn’t the best idea, either. While you won’t have to worry about the food coming out too salty, you do have to worry about it missing some of the flavors the recipe intends to bring out with the use of salted butter.

For more details, click here.

What Are Salted and Unsalted Butter Used For?

Most recipes call for unsalted butter, especially for baking recipes.

Salted butter, on the other hand, is important for some recipes. Also, salted butter is good for smearing on toast or waffles, especially if you love the taste.

Which Is Healthier: Salted or Unsalted Butter?


Unsalted butter tends to be healthier.

They both have the same amount of calories and nutritional characteristics, for the most part. The only difference is that salted butter has a higher amount of sodium.

Since the Western diet tends to include more sodium than necessary, we don’t usually need that extra sodium in unsalted butter.

Nevertheless, if you are only using it in small amounts or occasionally, you don’t have to worry too much about the extra sodium.

Can You Add Salt to Unsalted Butter?

Yes, you can add salt to unsalted butter, whether you have a recipe that calls for salted butter or you simply like salted butter for frying or smearing on your toast.

However, there are some things to keep in mind, which I will discuss in the next section.

How to Make Unsalted Butter Salted

Here are the steps on how to make unsalted butter salted. You can also use the method below to substitute unsalted butter for salted in baking.

1. Choose the Right Salt

It is important not to use kosher salt to salt unsalted butter because the texture just won’t be right.

Kosher salt is too coarse, and it won’t get absorbed into the unsalted butter. The same goes for sea salt and pink Himalayan salt. Instead, choose a fine salt.

2. Choose the Right Amount of Salt to Add

So, how to substitute unsalted butter for salted butter?

It is best to err on the side of caution and add ¼ teaspoon of salt to each stick of unsalted butter.

For this article, we’re assuming that each stick of butter is a 4 oz. stick. Remember, there are variations in the amount of salt in unsalted butter, and you can theoretically add up to ½ teaspoon of salt to each stick of unsalted butter.

However, if you add too much, it is harder to fix the situation than if you add too little.

If you add too little, you can add a little salt into the entire dish to make up for it.

3. Remember That the Texture May Vary

When adding salt to unsalted butter, you might get a slightly different texture than you would have if you were to use salted butter.

That’s why this method is best for recipes that call for warm or melted butter, so the salt can melt into the butter.

If the recipe calls for cold butter, it will be harder for the salt to get absorbed.

What If the Recipe Calls for Unsalted Butter, But You Have Salted Butter?

What if the reverse is the case here: The recipe calls for unsalted butter, but you bought salted butter by mistake?

It is a lot harder to fix this situation because you can’t just take the salt out of the butter. Nevertheless, don’t give up just yet — there is still a solution, albeit imperfect.

You can boil the butter in water, which will cause the salt to dissolve in the water.

  • First, you need to let the butter melt to room temperature, and then place it in a pot or a pan with an equal amount of water. Let it boil.
  • Then, let it cool off, so the water and butter can separate.
  • Last, scoop out the butter and put it in the freezer or fridge.

You might not like this method because the texture will be pretty different after putting the butter through all of that. Nevertheless, for some recipes, the texture doesn’t matter as much.

You can also use this method if you added salt to unsalted butter but then realized you added too much salt. In that case, you can boil it to remove the salt and then add a smaller quantity of salt again.

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Final Thoughts

Both salted butter and unsalted butter are delicious.

Whether you decide to add more salt to your butter yourself or wait until you get a chance to buy salted butter at the supermarket, nothing beats the tangy flavor of salted butter. Enjoy!

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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