Anyone who cooks or bakes on a regular basis understands how aggravating it can be at times to soften butter.
Sometimes you need it soft and pliable, while other times, you want it at room temperature. And no matter what method you use, there’s always that risk of accidentally burning or melting it.
Lucky for you, there’s an easy way. All it takes is a few seconds and a microwave.
Here’s how to soften butter in microwave.
Place your wrapped butter sticks in a microwave-safe bowl. Nuke it on low for 10-15 seconds, or simply use the defrost setting. Remove from the microwave, check for desired consistency, and flip over. Return to the microwave and nuke in 10-second bursts until soft and pliable.
In this article, we’ll expand on these instructions and provide additional detail on how to soften butter using your microwave. We’ll also offer some additional tips for quick and easy softening and address any concerns you might have.
Let’s jump right in.
Can You Soften Butter in the Microwave?
Today, the chances of finding butter in almost every home are pretty high. Whether spread on a toast or as an ingredient in baking and cooking, butter has become a staple ingredient.
But why soften butter in the first place?
Well, most recipes call for soft or at room temperature butter.
Butter comprises mainly solid fat, which melts at a relatively low temperature (around 68 degrees). When creamed, it traps air bubbles, creating an emulsion with water and proteins from milk or cream. The more air is incorporated into that emulsion, the fluffier your final product becomes.
While hard, butter can be softened quickly and easily using a microwave. But it’s not as simple as just throwing it into your microwave and hitting start. If you want it soft without turning it into a melted mess, you must take several precautions.
Microwaves have a reputation for cooking food unevenly, leaving cold spots and pockets of heat. For this reason, many people are hesitant to use them to soften butter.
As a result, you’ll need to flip your butter in short increments throughout microwaving. This will ensure that it softens evenly and doesn’t melt into a puddle of oil. Remember, melted butter is not softened butter! So be sure to check for doneness at each interval, as we’ll show you in our guide below.
How Long To Soften Butter in Microwave
Most people prefer microwaves for fast and convenient cooking. It’s no surprise that bakers and pastry chefs also use them to soften butter.
So how long do you need to microwave butter until it is soft enough?
Generally, it takes about 10 seconds for every ounce of butter. For example, if you are using 4 ounces of butter, you need to microwave it for 40 seconds.
There is, however, no hard and fast rule. Depending on your microwave’s wattage and your desired consistency, it can take more or less time. Other variables that can also come into play include the amount and size of butter used and whether it is thawed or defrosted.
In any case, start with 10-15 seconds on low power. If you need more time, continue microwaving in short bursts of about 10 seconds each until your butter reaches your desired consistency. Ensure not to overdo it, or your butter will get too hot and melt.
Tips for Softening Butter in the Microwave
Using a microwave to soften butter indeed poses a greater risk than leaving it out on the counter. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do so safely.
Below are some tips and tricks to help you soften your butter without compromising your recipes.
- Slice your butter into small pieces before placing it in a microwave-safe bowl. This will ensure your butter softens evenly and quickly. It also makes for easy stirring while softening.
- Retain your butter wrap while softening it in a microwave. This will prevent splatters and makes cleanup much easier.
- Use low power and keep an eye on your butter while it softens. Because butter has a low melting point of around 68°F, you don’t want to leave it in for too long or at too high a temperature. Alternatively, you can use the defrost option on your microwave if it has one.
- Avoid using unsafe containers, such as plastic or Styrofoam, when softening butter. These can melt and leach into your food. Instead, choose a microwave-safe bowl made of glass or ceramic and ensure it’s large enough to accommodate your butter.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to check if your butter is ready for use. The ideal temperature for softened butter is between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, press it with your finger to test it.
If your butter is soft enough, your finger will leave an indentation that doesn’t spring back when you remove it.
- Flip your butter in short intervals while it softens. This will help prevent uneven softening and ensure no heat pockets form within your butter.
How to Soften Butter in Microwave (Step By Step Guide)
There are two methods for softening butter in the microwave. The first involves placing it in a microwave-safe bowl and heating it directly in the microwave. The second method is to heat it indirectly by using steam from a cup or jar of boiling water.
So, let’s look at both methods and see which one works best for you.
1. The Direct Approach Method
Step 1: Place Wrapped Butter in a Microwavable Bowl
Don’t unwrap your butter, just place it directly into a microwave-safe bowl. Slice or cube to the desired size if necessary.
Step 2: Nuke on Low Power for 10-15 Seconds
Set your microwave on low power and heat your butter for 10-15 seconds. Alternatively, if your microwave has a defrost function, use it. This will ensure that you don’t burn or melt your butter while softening it.
Step 3: Remove from Microwave and Check for Consistency
Remove your butter from the microwave and give it a quick stir. If it’s still hard, place it back into your microwave and nuke in 10 seconds bursts until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Make sure to stir after each burst so that it softens evenly.
Step 4: Remove From Microwave and Let Cool for a Few Seconds
Use an instant-read thermometer and ensure it reads 68°F. If you don’t have one, try pressing your finger into your butter. It should leave an indentation that doesn’t spring back when removing your finger. This is a good indication that your butter is ready to use.
If not soft enough, place it back into your microwave and nuke on low power for another 10 seconds.
1. The Indirect Approach Method
Step 1: Fill a Microwavable Cup or Jar with Water and Nuke for 2 Minutes
Pour about one inch of water into your microwave-safe cup or jar. Heat it for 2 minutes on high power, then remove it from the microwave when enough steam has been built. Alternatively, you can use a steamer basket if you have one available.
Step 2: Place Your Bowl of Diced Butter into Your Microwave
Place your bowl of diced butter in the microwave as soon as you remove your cup of hot water. The steam will help soften your butter without melting it. Stir every minute or so until the ideal consistency is achieved. Again, make sure that your butter is at least 68 °C before using it.
Why Does Butter Spark in the Microwave
Three ingredients primarily make up butter: butterfat, water, and milk solids. When you microwave butter, these three ingredients separate. The water heats up quickly, causing it to evaporate and turn into steam.
The butterfat also heats up but does not evaporate as easily because it has a lower boiling point than water. As a result, much of its fat remains behind in solid form, while much of its moisture escapes as steam into the surrounding air.
This causes small air pockets to become trapped inside clumps of melted butterfat. And when they come into contact with one another, they make a popping sound.
So when you hear your butter crackle or pop, don’t worry. It’s just air bubbles forming and popping.
Faqs On How to Soften Butter in Microwave
How do you get butter to room temperature quickly?
While you can easily soften butter by leaving it out on your counter for a few hours, you can also speed up that process with a quick trip through your microwave. Simply cut your stick of butter into small pieces, place them in a microwave-safe bowl, and nuke them on low power.
How do you know when butter is softened?
The best way to tell if butter is soft enough for your recipe is to feel it. It should be malleable and soft but not so runny that it’s liquid. Try pressing your finger into your softened butter stick. If it leaves an indentation, you know it’s ready to go.
Alternatively, you can use an instant-read thermometer to check its temperature; it should register 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
How do you soften butter quickly with Mary Berry?
Mary Berry suggests that you soften butter quickly by cutting it into large chunks and placing them in warm, not hot, water. Leave it for about 10 minutes or until soft. Drain the water off and use as required. This method works best if your butter is straight from the fridge.
What happens if you use melted butter instead of softened?
Melted butter is great, but you’ll want to use softened butter when it comes to baking. Melted butter does not hold air bubbles like softened butter does, which means that your baked goods will have a tougher texture and won’t rise as much.
How do you beat butter and sugar by hand?
Let your butter first sit at room temperature until soft enough to mix. Then, add a pinch of salt and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until creamy and smooth. The butter will be lumpy at first but keep beating; it will eventually become smooth and light in texture.
Scrape down sides as needed. Progressively add the sugar, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla extract and any other flavorings if desired.
How do you mix butter and sugar?
First, soften your butter. You can let it sit out on a counter for 30 minutes or so (or zap it in a microwave for 10 seconds). Next, using a hand or stand mixer, beat together softened butter and sugar until fluffy and light.
Scrape down the sides of your bowl once or twice while mixing to make sure everything is well incorporated.
How long can butter sit out?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that butter be kept at room temperature for no more than two days. If left out longer, it can become rancid and develop off-flavors.
Softening butter doesn’t have to be a chore. You can do so quickly and easily with your microwave. However, you’ll want to make sure you don’t overdo it or end up with melted butter.
Make sure you use moderate heat and watch your butter closely. It should only take about 15-25 seconds for a stick of butter to soften. However, it’s recommended that you do so in 10 seconds increment, checking after each interval to ensure it does not melt.
These are some of the key points you should keep in mind when softening butter. But, as with most things, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Experiment and find what works best for you. Follow our tips, and you’ll have soft butter in no time.
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