Works For Me Wednesday – Softening Butter

This week’s Works for Me Wednesday tip is a simple little tip that has revolutionized my baking. Now maybe everybody else already knows this, but up until a few years ago I had no idea how easy this was - and I can’t be the only one right?

How many times have you decided to bake cookies, checked for ingredients, gotten all excited about the delicious outcome, and then changed your mind because the butter was hard as a rock in the refrigerator? When you want cookies now, who has 2 hours to wait while the butter sits on the counter coming to room temperature? This has happened to me more times than I can count. And of course when I would try to microwave it, inevitably I left it just a little too long and ended up with a bowl of liquid butter. And liquid butter is most likely not what you want. (Unless you’re making these – yum! Oh, or these! But most of the time, liquid butter is not conducive to good cookies.)

Well, I’ve learned the secret – the secret to perfectly soft butter in the microwave that is. Are you ready? 30% power! It sounds so simple doesn’t it? I just put my butter in the microwave for 7 seconds at 30% power and test it. If it’s not quite soft enough yet, I flip it over, and do it for a few seconds more, still at 30% power. The exact time will vary depending on your microwave, how cold your butter is to start, and how many sticks you are softening. But perfectly softened butter in just seconds is worth a little trial and error don’t you think? Try it and let me know how it works for you! Or are you already doing this and am I the last to know? Please tell me – it’s best to be aware of these things.

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36 Responses to “Works For Me Wednesday – Softening Butter”

  1. 1

    Eliana — November 3, 2010 @ 2:42 am

    What an awesome tip Megan! Thanks so much for sharing. Will have to give this a try.

  2. 2

    Andrea @ Simple Organized Living.com — November 3, 2010 @ 3:09 am

    Yup…I'm already doing the 30% power, but it's still a great tip! hehe!

  3. 3

    cindy — November 3, 2010 @ 3:31 am

    I'm famous for over nuking the butter. Thanks for the great tip. I love little tricks like this that make cooking fun! Yes, I'm easily entertained. Great blog! Have a wonderful day!

  4. 4

    Danielle — November 3, 2010 @ 3:50 am

    Thanks for the tips! I'll have to try them(:

  5. 5

    Lisa — November 3, 2010 @ 4:19 am

    Thank you so much for this tip. Why in the world didn't I think of that before? Instead, I've always either had to wait or get liquid butter like you said. Great post.

  6. 6

    Molly Green — November 3, 2010 @ 4:56 am

    Great tip! Thanks!

  7. 7

    Jessica @ How Sweet — November 3, 2010 @ 10:41 am

    My grandma used to put butter in the microwave for 3 seconds over and over and over again. I did that, but then I got a microwave with a "soften" setting!

  8. 8

    Shannon — November 3, 2010 @ 11:34 am

    Hi Megan! I put it in the microwave on defrost for about 15 seconds or so. Perfect every time.

  9. 9

    kim — November 3, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

    Megan, I look forward to Wednesdays from you! I love this tip. You are right – worth trying for sure. (Your pictures improve with each post :)

  10. 10

    CaSaundraLeigh — November 3, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

    Very helpful tip–baking is such a science, your really have to get it perfect!

  11. 11

    Jenn — November 3, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    Great tip Megan! I just recently found this wonderful little tip myself :)

  12. 12

    Rachel — November 3, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    Ages ago I use to microwave full power – first due to not understanding the value and importance of true softened butter and not melted. Then it was a matter of frustration that made me microwave. Recently I did do reduced power for a quick fix but nothing beats leaving butter out overnight for true creamy soft butter at room temp. Reduced power when you forget is an absolute must if you can't wait to bake. :)

  13. 13

    thedelishdishblog — November 3, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

    i've been using the defrost setting but sometimes I end up with melty edges so i 'll def try the 30% trick next time!!

  14. 14

    Rachel @ The Avid Appetite — November 3, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

    Genius! This happens to me all the time and it's so frustrating!

  15. 15

    happywhennothungry — November 3, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

    I generally stick my butter in the microwave for 10 seconds and check it half-way through. I've never put the power at 30% before, so I'll have to try that. Thanks for sharing :-)

  16. 16

    Andrea the Kitchen Witch — November 3, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

    I haven't tried the 30% power trick yet. In my microwave it takes 17 seconds on hi heat to perfectly soften a stick of butter with out melty edges :) Yes, I spent an hour microwaving butter until I got the timing down perfectly :) I need a hobby LOL

  17. 17

    Julie Bagamary — November 3, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

    I do 7 seconds on high – works for me.

  18. 18

    lid579 — November 3, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

    I put my butter in the microwave for 10 seconds at 100%, and it comes out just right. If I put in more than one stick at a time, I check it at 10 seconds, and if it still needs a little more softening, I do additional 5 seconds at a time at 100%. Works really well for me.

  19. 19

    StephenC — November 3, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

    I wonder how many people ever microwave at less than 100%. It makes the machine so much more verThis is very similar to a recipe I posted back in early May. Given that there was only 1 comment at that time (I didn’t have but one regular follower), I thought I’d share it again. It’s very comforting for a chilly fall evening. This is the way my mom made pot roast in the 50’s when I was a lad. It would go into the oven before we left for church on a Sunday. When we got home it was ready for midday dinner.

    50’s-style pot roast
    3 lb. beef chuck roast
    black pepper
    1 packet dry onion soup mix
    1 can mushroom soup concentrate
    2 large red potatoes, quartered, not peeled
    2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
    1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
    1 onion, peeled and quartered
    3 cups low fat, low sodium beef broth

    Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

    Get out your Dutch oven. Scatter about 1/3 of the onion soup mix in the bottom (so that it seasons the underside of the meat). Spoon on 1/3 of the mushroom soup (undiluted).

    Place the vegetables in the pot and lay the beef over the top of them. Put the remaining mushroom soup concentrate and onion soup mix on top of the beef. Add the beef broth.

    Cover and place in the oven. Go away. Come back 3 hrs. later (perhaps 3 ½ if your roast is much larger than 3 lb.). Remove the roast to a platter, cover with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
    satile.

  20. 20

    StephenC — November 3, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

    I don't know how that recipe got incorporated into my comment. Apologies. It's due for posting at my blog later today.

  21. 21

    Caitlin — November 3, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

    Ooh good tip! I always end up with too much melted and then my recipes don't turn out the way I want them to. Looks like less power = more power here. Terrible, terrible pun.

  22. 22

    Alicia — November 3, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

    Good to know!

  23. 23

    Aimee — November 3, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

    I am definitely going to try this! I got really excited last year when we bought a new microwave with a "soften" feature on it, but some of the butter still ends up too melted. Thanks!

  24. 24

    Jennifurla — November 3, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    I have done that a billion times, thanks for the tip!

  25. 25

    Simply Life — November 3, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    oh no! I don't have a microwave but still need tips! I just put it on the stove and it ends up as that liquid puddle nearly every time!

  26. 26

    Torviewtoronto — November 3, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

    delicious pictures

  27. 27

    pajamachef — November 4, 2010 @ 12:19 am

    good tip! i read recently that there are some new microwaves with a setting for softening things like cream cheese and butter and i bet they do it similar to this.

  28. 28

    Lauren at KeepItSweet — November 4, 2010 @ 12:44 am

    great tip! i actually put my butter on top of the oven while it pre-heats and that usually does the job. just have to make sure i rotate the butter every few minutes:-)

  29. 29

    Maranda — November 4, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    I actually just throw it in for 8 seconds and it's perfectly soft. I don't put it on 30% power. Maybe I've been doing it wrong?? Either way…great tip!

  30. 30

    the blissful baker — November 4, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

    i just usually microwave on regular power for less than 10 seconds and its work perfectly for me!

  31. 31

    Marla — November 4, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

    This is an awesome tip I will use time & time again. I have never used the 30% setting & now I sure will!

  32. 32

    Susan — November 4, 2010 @ 10:47 pm

    Great idea! Now I need to find out how to change my microwave to use less than 100% power … :)

  33. 33

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — November 5, 2010 @ 2:00 am

    I love the butter softening discussion! Thanks for all the tips on what works for you. Who knew there were so many different ways to soften butter? :)

  34. 34

    Natalie — November 5, 2010 @ 2:49 am

    mmmk now I just need to figure out how to use the power settings on my microwave :) going to read the comments though bc it sounds like there are some other good ideas in here too!

  35. 35

    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — November 11, 2010 @ 3:21 am

    Such a great tip! I often end up over-softening my butter in the microwave, but I will have to try again. I hate waiting for butter to soften!

  36. 36

    Brittany — September 28, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

    This is a fabulous tip! I’m actually just browsing through some of your older posts while I wait for my butter to soften and found this! Just what I needed :) Although I think I’m going to keep browsing for a while ;) I already found about 3 dozen recipes to try from you!

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