how to know when you should use salted or unsalted butter

I’m not afraid of improvising in the kitchen, especially when it’s a dish I’ve made a million times before. A little bit of this, a dash of that, and there you have it—dinner is served! But when it boils down to it, there are so many little factors that go into creating the perfect dish, that it does help to refer back to the original recipe. There’s a reason why measurements were created and why certain ingredients made the cut. One ingredient in particular is the focal point of this blog post. Today I’m talking all things butter. With recipes calling for salted or unsalted, it can be confusing to know the difference and when to use the correct one. If this has crossed your mind before, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve taken the time to break down the difference between salted and unsalted butter, and when to us each one. Let’s get to it…

Unsalted Butter

First up we have unsalted butter. Unsalted butter is just that, butter without any added salt. Using unsalted butter gives you as the chef or baker the freedom to experiment with your desired flavors. If you want to keep your dish super smooth and creamy, unsalted butter may be the best option (like with sugar cookies or a pound cake). Yet recipes that call for unsalted butter typically require an added dash of salt, so keep that in mind the next time you roll your sleeves up in the kitchen.

Salted Butter

The alternative to unsalted butter is salted butter of course. Salted butter is great for cooking across the board and is considered all-purpose. This kind of butter is actually ideal for both savory and sweet recipes, which may not seem obvious. But if you’re a serious baker, keep in mind that different brands of unsalted butter may contain varying amounts of salt—so stick with a salted butter brand you know and love.

Ultimately when it comes down to it, both salted and unsalted butter can be used interchangeably. However, it is important to note that if a recipe calls for one over the other, there’s usually a good reason behind it.

Do you have any tried and true baking tips?

I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

XO Lauren

P.S. Here are some more posts to help you master your skills in the kitchen:

Recipe Box: The Best Milk Alternatives for Baking
Healthy Habits: Cooking Oils 101
Tuesday Ten: Healthy Ingredients Swaps
Sweet Tooth: 5 Baking Tips and Tricks Every Beginner Should Know
Odds & Ends: The Difference Between Kosher Salt, Table Salt, Sea Salt, and More

Photos: Jessi Burrone for
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