How to Salt Unsalted Butter And Vice Versa


You got unsalted butter. But the recipe calls for salted butter. They may look the same, but unsalted and salted butter definitely taste different from each other.

Do you dispose of that unsalted butter and rush to the supermarket to get your hands on salted butter just to follow the recipe to a T? Not necessarily! Only one ingredient sets unsalted butter and salted butter apart, and adding it to unsalted butter can quickly turn it into salted butter.

Salting unsalted butter is as easy as adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt for every stick of unsalted butter. Fine table salt is best as it dissolves better. A stick of salted butter packs about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. However, the amount of salt in a stick of salted butter tends to vary from brand to brand.

If throwing away that unsalted butter because the recipe says to use salted butter is not an option, continue reading. Below, you will come across some of the most important things you need to know about salting unsalted butter. Later, we will also discuss removing excess salt from salted butter and using some butter alternatives, too.

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

salted butter
Image credit: Canva

The primary difference between unsalted butter and salted butter is that the latter has a lot more salt. Unsalted butter is great for recipes where certain flavors should be highlighted. On the other hand, salted butter is suited for recipes where some flavors can be balanced with the help of salt.

Besides the taste, the kind of butter used can impact the texture, appearance and shelf life, too.

Using salted butter for baking helps improve the volume of the dough and causes the crumb to be finer. It’s all due to the effect of salt on yeast fermentation and enzymatic activity. What’s more, salt in salted butter boosts crust color, making just about any baked treat you make look more head-turning.

Salt in salted butter is a preservative, too. It’s because of this why baked products containing salted butter tend to have slightly longer shelf lives than baked goodies containing unsalted butter.

Is Unsalted Butter Healthier Than Salted Butter?

Unsalted butter and salted butter are equally healthy. Both of them contain an assortment of vitamins and minerals. They have healthy fatty acids, too. The only difference between the two is that salted butter has added salt, which contains the mineral sodium. Too much sodium is bad for the health.

Cow’s milk is considered a superfood. And because butter is made from the fat of milk, it doesn’t come as a surprise why it’s one of the healthiest staple baking ingredients on the face of the planet.

Let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy nutrients in butter, unsalted and salted alike:

  • Vitamin A. Do you want to keep your 20/20 vision intact? Then make sure that you get good amounts of vitamin A from your everyday diet. Also known as “retinol”, vitamin A helps support bone and teeth health, fend off cancer and boost the immune system, too.
  • Vitamin B12. Sometimes referred to as “cobalamin”, vitamin B12 is a major role player in keeping the nerves healthy and functioning very well. Since the body needs it for the production of red blood cells (RBCs), vitamin B12 may help keep anemia from striking.
  • Vitamin D. It’s no secret that calcium is essential for strong bones. Did you know that calcium is pretty much useless if there’s no vitamin D around? That’s because this vitamin is necessary for calcium absorption. It’s due to this why most calcium supplements have vitamin D.
  • Vitamin E. Being an antioxidant, vitamin E helps protect the skin cells from free radical damage. This is why it’s sometimes called the “beauty vitamin”. Besides helping to make you look your best, vitamin E also helps prevent eye problems and lower cancer risk.
  • Vitamin K2. Earlier, we mentioned that vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium. Well, vitamin K2 present in butter has the same role, too. Because of this, the nutrient is very good for keeping at bay osteoporosis, a disease that causes the bones to become weak and brittle.
  • Calcium. Everyone knows that calcium helps strengthen the bones. Not a lot of people are aware that this mineral also has other benefits. For instance, it is essential for the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles. Calcium may also protect against cancer and hypertension.
  • Potassium. Speaking of hypertension, potassium in butter helps lower blood pressure. It works by allowing the blood vessels to relax. Due to this, potassium may help ward off heart attacks and strokes. The mineral is also known to help deal with water retention and prevent kidney stones.
  • Zinc. Like vitamin E, zinc is an antioxidant. It’s because of this why it can slow down the process of aging and prevent all sorts of age-related health problems. Zinc is also an important role player in the strengthening of the immune system. It promotes wound healing, too.
  • Butyric acid. A type of fatty acid, butyric acid promotes a healthy digestive system by providing the intestinal cells with up to 70% of their energy needs to carry out their functions. Health experts say that it also helps keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels within the healthy range.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid. Like butyric acid, conjugated linoleic acid is also a fatty acid. Called “CLA” for short, it’s often turned into a supplement for people who would like to lose excess pounds, increase muscle mass, boost the immune system and control diabetes.

One stick of unsalted butter has 12 milligrams of sodium. On the other hand, one stick of salted butter has 651 milligrams of sodium. It’s common knowledge that too much sodium is bad for the body. That’s because it can increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and kidney problems.

Health experts say that you should limit your daily intake of sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams. So, in other words, you should not consume more than three and a half sticks of salted butter a day.

How Much Salt to Make Unsalted Butter Salted?

As a general rule, one must add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to one stick of unsalted butter to turn it into salted butter. It’s possible to add less or more salt to a stick of unsalted butter, depending on the individual’s preference and taste. Before adding more salt, giving the mixture a taste is a must.

Different brands of salted butter contain different amounts of salt. It’s because of this why some of them tend to taste saltier than the rest and thus more ideal for certain recipes.

If you are accustomed to the saltiness of a particular brand of salted butter and it’s not available, you may add a little more than 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a stick of unsalted butter. But before you do so, it’s a good idea to taste the butter each time you add a little salt to it. Is it not salty enough? Then go ahead and add some more salt.

Always keep this in mind: you can always add more salt, but you cannot remove excess salt easily — you can get rid of unwanted salt in salted butter, and we will discuss how in a few, so read on!

Fret not if you are about to add salt to unsalted butter, but you hate doing math. The following table indicates the amount of salt you will have to add to a particular amount of unsalted butter to turn it into the salted variant:

AMOUNT OF BUTTERAMOUNT OF SALT
One tablespoon15.6 milligrams
One-half stick62.5 milligrams
One cup1/2 teaspoon
One block1 teaspoon
How Much Salt to Make Unsalted Butter Salted

Now that you know how much salt to add to a certain amount of unsalted butter, it’s time to answer this pressing question many without access to salted butter (but need it) are too shy to ask…

What Salt is Best to Add to Unsalted Butter?

It’s recommended to add fine table salt to unsalted butter to turn it into salted butter. That’s because it dissolves quicker, especially if mixed into room temperature or warm butter. On the other hand, adding salt in large grains or flakes may cause the butter to have a granular texture.

Besides their taste, many baked goods and desserts are also a delight to eat due to the way they feel in the mouth.

The presence of grains where there should be none can easily ruin the gastronomic experience. Because of this, the salt you will add to unsalted butter as a replacement for salted butter should be completely dissolved. This is when the importance of using fine table salt comes in.

It’s also a good idea to allow unsalted butter to cool to room temperature first before you add the right amount of fine table salt to it. This will make it easier for the salt grains to dissolve when you mix the butter.

Needless to say, you should stay away from kosher salt that’s made up of large and coarse crystals.

Perhaps you have heard or read somewhere that pink Himalayan salt is healthier than regular table salt because it contains certain minerals, some of which are responsible for its characteristic pink color. This is why you may be wondering if you may add pink Himalayan salt to unsalted butter instead of fine table salt.

Well, it’s completely fine to count on pink Himalayan salt when turning unsalted butter into salted butter. The same ratio when using fine table salt should be followed: 1/4 teaspoon for every stick of unsalted butter.

However, pink Himalayan salt tends to have a mild sweet taste. While some people may not pick up the sweetness of pink Himalayan salt, others with sensitive taste buds may notice the difference. This is why, in many instances, pink Himalayan salt is best used for dressing up desserts — it looks amazing on caramel and chocolate frosting!

Besides pink Himalayan salt, sea salt is often touted as healthier than table salt. Alas, health experts say that this is not true as both types of salt have pretty much the same nutritional value. One of the key differences between the two is the origin and processing. Table salt comes from salt deposits, while sea salt comes from the sea.

Another thing that sets table salt and sea salt apart is their saltiness.

Many people assume that sea salt is healthier than table salt because it tastes less salty. However, the truth is that both of them have the same amount of sodium — it’s just that sea salt has more trace minerals in it that affect its taste. For instance, its potassium and magnesium content can cause sea salt to be slightly bitter, making it seem less salty.

Because sea salt doesn’t taste as salty as table salt, you may have to add more of it to unsalted butter to make it taste like the salted butter the recipe requires.

Different types of salt have different levels of saltiness. This is why adding one type of salt to unsalted butter may result in salted butter that tastes different from one to which another type of salt is added. And this brings us to a question some may find too embarrassing to ask…

What to Do If Salted Butter Tastes Too Salty?

butter stick
Image credit: Canva

Salted butter that tastes too salty may be boiled in water. Much of the salt in the salted butter will mix with the water as salt is more soluble in it. The butter and water will separate as the mixture cools to room temperature. Getting rid of the water will get rid of much of the salt content.

No matter if you accidentally added too much salt to unsalted butter or bought salted butter that’s too salty for your liking, there’s no need to throw away the product.

That’s because you can get rid of some of the salt content by taking a few simple steps. It’s always possible for the resulting butter to taste a lot less salty. But the good news is that you can add a little fine table salt to the butter to turn it into salted butter that’s perfect for your taste buds or the recipe.

Unfortunately, there is a catch: the resulting butter’s texture won’t be the same.

It’s because of this why the baked product or dessert may not be as flawless as you had hoped it to be appearance- and consistency-wise, although it may still taste heavenly. When it comes to having salted butter that’s a tad too salty, it’s completely up to you whether you will discard it or try to salvage it by following these steps:

  • Allow the butter to cool to room temperature. You may also carry out the steps below while the butter is still fresh from the fridge and rock-hard. However, the entire process is more likely to go without a hitch if the butter is, well, soft as butter.
  • Place the butter in a small saucepan and add equal amounts of water. This is when the benefit of allowing the butter to soften beforehand comes in — it will be easier to measure it so that you can add the right amount of water. A block of butter is equivalent to two cups, so add two cups of water. A stick of butter is equivalent to eight tablespoons, so add eight tablespoons of water.
  • Heat the butter and water mixture. Use low flame only to keep the butter from ending up burned. Also, it’s a good idea to keep stirring the mixture to avoid ruining the butter. Turn off the stove as soon as it appears like the butter and water are thoroughly mixed.
  • Allow the mixture to sit. Letting the butter and water mixture cool will cause the components to separate — the butter will float to the top, and the water will sink to the bottom.
  • Scoop out the butter. Once the butter and water have separated completely, grab a large spoon and carefully scoop out the butter. Place each scoop of water in a small bowl. You may keep the butter in the refrigerator for a few minutes to turn it into solid. Discard the water in the saucepan.

That’s it — you just removed excess salt in salted butter, whether it’s unsalted butter that you salted yourself or a brand of salted butter that’s simply saltier than others.

Did the product lose a lot of its salt content? Then sprinkle a little salt and stir very well before refrigerating it.

However, as mentioned earlier, the texture of the resulting butter will not be the same as before. This can affect the appearance and consistency of the baked goodie or decadent treat you plan to create from scratch. But the good news is that it’s for sure that it won’t taste like seawater!

Other than trying the steps above, you may also simply adjust the recipe by reducing the amount of salt needed. And if the recipe calls for unsalted butter and all you have is salted butter, the same may be done. And this brings us to a pressing question that needs an answer…

How to Adjust Salt If Using Salted Butter?

If unsalted butter is required but salted butter is the only one available, the recipe may be adjusted. The amount of salt needed may be reduced to make up for the amount of salt present in the salted butter. This allows the use of salted butter without causing the finished product to taste salty.

Earlier, we talked about the amount of fine table salt to add to a specific amount of unsalted butter to turn it into salted butter — for every stick of unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon of fine table salt.

A stick of salted butter that you can get your hands on at the supermarket contains 1/4 teaspoon of salt, which is why the same amount of salt has to be added to unsalted butter to salt it. However, it’s important to note that some salted butter brands may have more salt than just 1/4 teaspoon, while other salted butter brands may have less.

Suppose that the recipe requires you to add one teaspoon of salt and two sticks of unsalted butter, but all you have is a couple of sticks of salted butter. Then what you need to do is add only half a teaspoon of salt and the two sticks of salted butter. The other half a teaspoon of salt is already in the two sticks of salted butter.

Or, if the recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a stick of unsalted butter but what’s available is one stick of salted butter, you simply have to use 1/4 teaspoon of salt since the other 1/4 teaspoon is already in the stick of salted butter.

Fret not if tweaking recipes is not your thing. That’s because instead of determining the amount of salt in unsalted butter and adjusting the amount of salt to add, you may simply ditch the salted butter altogether. And this is why you should check out the answer to this question…

What is a Good Salted Butter Substitute?

When it comes to baking, many can serve as substitutes to salted butter. Many of them are healthier than salted butter, too, which makes them perfect for health- and figure-conscious people. However, most of them do not make for suitable salted butter substitutes for other cooking methods.

No matter if salted butter is not available or you don’t want to use any butter, you can choose from an assortment of substitutes to the staple baking ingredient.

Some of these substitutes kind of taste like salted butter, particularly after a little fine table salt is added to them. Others kind of resemble the characteristic texture of butter, which makes them perfect if the baked product or dessert you are about to whip up is loved by many for its unmistakable consistency.

However, one thing remains true: none of them can truly replace butter.

The following are some of the best alternatives to salted butter and how much of each one you should use for every cup of butter the recipe calls for:

BUTTER SUBSTITUTE (1 CUP)AMOUNT
Applesauce1/2 cup
Avocado1 cup
Black bean puree1 cup
Buttermilk1/2 cup
Coconut oil1 cup
Greek yogurt1/2 cup
Nut butter1 cup
Olive oil3/4 cup
Prune puree3/4 cup
Pumpkin puree3/4 cup
Vegetable oil3/4 cup
Substitutes for 1 Cup of Butter

Takeaway

It’s easy how to salt unsalted butter. All you have to do is add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, preferably fine table salt, to every stick of unsalted butter. After mixing the salt into it, the butter is ready for use with any recipe that calls for the use of salted butter — no one will be able to tell the difference!

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