You’re ready to start baking. The oven is preheated. The flour, sugar and spices are measured out. The baking pan is greased. And then you realize you’ve forgotten to soften your butter.
What do you do? Do you push back your baking time to allow the butter to soften on the countertop, adding a full 30–60 minutes to the whole process? Nah. Hack your baking experience with one of these seven surefire butter-softening tips. After all, the quicker your butter softens, the quicker you’ll have a sweet baked treat in your mouth.
1. The Microwave Method
This one is pretty obvious: Microwave your butter! If you’ve got access to a microwave, it’s easy to soften up the butter in a matter of seconds. Fifteen seconds, to be exact, at least according to Better Homes and Gardens. They recommend a quick heating session at 30 percent power for just 15 seconds, as this short amount of time will ensure the butter is merely softened and not totally nuked into a puddle.
2. The Waistband Method
Use your body heat to soften butter! Pop the stick of butter (still wrapped, of course!) in your waistband for about 30 minutes or so. The heat from your body will slowly warm the butter, making it malleable for use in recipes. It may feel a little funny to carry a stick of butter against your skin, but hey, you do what you gotta do when there are baked goods in question.
3. The Residual Heat Method
This one is also on the obvious side: Simply place the butter next to an item that’s already warm, like a bowl that’s been microwaved or a pot that’s just come off the stove. Make sure the item is actually touching the butter, not just in the same general area. The residual heat will help soften the butter. It’s easiest to do this if the butter is still in its container.
4. The Glass Of Water Method
YouTube’s One Pot Chef has an ingenious tip for softening butter, detailed in the video below. Basically, you put hot water in a glass, let it stand for a minute, then pour out the water and place the glass over the butter. The heat from the glass will help the butter get soft in just a matter of minutes.
5. The Double Boiler Method
The Kitchn advocates making a double boiler to get that butter soft and melty. Boil some water, then place the butter in a dish on top of the pan. In a few minutes, it will begin to soften. Be careful, as you don’t want it to fully melt.
6. The Water Bath Method
This method is used and approved by “The Great British Bake Off” star Mary Berry, so you know it’s good. According to the BBC, Berry’s quick tip to get butter ready for baking or cooking is to “Cut the butter, straight from the fridge, into large cubes. Place the butter cubes into a bowl of lukewarm water (about the temperature of a baby’s bath) and leave it for ten minutes.”
7. The Pounding Method
You guessed it—in this method, you pound the heck out of your butter. America’s Test Kitchen demonstrates below, sharing how placing it in a plastic bag and using a rolling pin or other pounding tool will get the butter soft in just seconds.
P.S. According to food experts, it’s totally fine to keep butter out of the fridge for up to a week. So you can actually avoid the whole softening process by leaving butter out on your kitchen counter on a regular basis. It won’t make you sick or hurt the quality of the butter in any way. The more you know!