How to Cut Hard Butter (2 ways)

It always happens to me.  I almost always have butter softening in the cupboard and I almost never need it but the moment I need soft butter I have none.

It’s such a bummer.

Here’s 3 ways to make hard butter spreadable in a panic (without using a microwave):

  1. Place it next to the stove and turn the stove on.  This is the most effective but also the trickiest – it’s often messy and inconsistent (the butter closest to the element gets too soft and the rest is still solid).  Not my preferred method.
  2. Grate frozen butter.  I started grating butter when making pie crust; it’s amazing.  The small pieces don’t exactly spread on toast (though they will if you leave them on the counter for a few minutes) but the pieces can easily be scattered and, as they melt, spread.
  3. Shave cold butter with a vegetable peeler.  This works best with butter that’s been hardened in the fridge (frozen butter can be a little too hard for it).  Long pieces can be shaved off and, after a few minutes of resting (I place it on top of the bread I want to spread it on), the temperature of the room will soften it and make it easy to spread.  In the case of a grilled cheese you don’t have to wait – you can place it right in the pan.

What do you do when you’re in a butter panic?


  1. Rodney R says:

    My mom once told me to hold it under my arm. It didn’t take long for me to realize she was joking. I tried the same trick on my wife. She did not fall for it. I do 8 seconds in the microwave.

  2. I use @foodinjars’ method of tossing it in a ziplock and then into a warm water bath in the sink for a few minutes. Has saved more than one baking project.

  3. I have two solutions, depending on how far ahead of time I took thought: (1) the think ahead version: use a butter bell, keep the stuff on the counter within water. (2) the oops version: put a stick in the microwave, zap 8 sec, turn it over, zap 6 sec more. Works for me every time.

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