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How to Soften Butter Quickly, 4 Ways!

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Need softened butter for a recipe but it’s still rock hard? Don’t have time to wait for it to come to room temperature? In this post you’ll learn how to soften butter, using 4 different methods! No more waiting for hours, just speedy softened butter – ready for all your recipe needs! Keep reading to learn how…

Plates of softened butter, eggs, flour and sugar with a napkin.

Why soften butter?

If a recipe calls for softened or room temperature butter, it’s usually for good reason. Ever tried creaming hard butter into sugar? It’s incredibly difficult. And even if it works, it will take AGES! Ingredients blend together best when all at the same temperature.

There are times when you need cold butter. Like when you’re making shortcrust pastry or scones for example. But softened butter is often required when making cakes or biscuits. As it helps to give your bakes a more even texture. So always keep an eye out for this in any recipe you’re following.

Someone placing a warm glass over a stick of butter on a plate

What is the fastest way to soften butter?

There are a few different methods for softening butter. For a hands off approach, you can just take it out the fridge and leave on your worktop for a while. You can also freeze it then grate it.

But the fastest two methods are either cutting it into cubes and microwaving, or covering it with a warm glass.

We’ll explore all these in more detail later on in the post.

Grated cold butter with a box grater, and a bowl of eggs.

What’s the best way to store butter?

Butter is best stored in the fridge as it will last longer. If you store it at room temperature, it will go off much quicker.

Someone cutting a block of butter

Why does cutting butter soften it quicker?

The larger the surface area, the faster it will soften. The smaller the surface area, the longer it will take.

A whole block of butter has a small surface area, as it only has 6 large edges. Lots of cubes of butter have a much greater surface area. As it includes ALL the small edges on ALL the small cubes.

This theory applies lots of cooking methods. Need to cool something quickly? Increase the surface area. Need to cook something quickly? Increase the surface area!

Bowls of cubed butter, eggs, flour and sugar.

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A plate of cubed butter with a sharp knife and a napkin

I left my butter out but it’s still hard. Why?

Believe it or not, the weather and Seasons affect how long it will take to bring your chilled butter to room temperature.

Is it a hot Summer’s day? It probably won’t take very long to soften. Is it a freezing cold Winter’s day? It will take much longer to soften, especially if you haven’t got the heating on. You may actually be better choosing another method.

A glass of hot water next to a block of butter.

The easiest way to soften butter

By far, the easiest way to soften butter, is to take it out the fridge and leave at room temperature for a while. If you leave it whole, it may take an hour or two. Cut it into cubes and it will be much quicker.

The drawbacks are that this isn’t the quickest method. And the weather/Seasons will dictate how long it will take. So make sure you bear that in mind if using this method.

You also need to remember to take it out before you need it. Which can be tricky when we’re busy! I find setting a reminder on my phone helps with this.

A block of butter on a kitchen worktop
A block of butter being cubed with a sharp knife

How to soften butter by grating it

If your recipe calls for grated butter, or you just want to soften it quicker by dramatically increasing the surface area, this method is for you.

Place your block of butter and your grater into the freezer for 30 minutes. Then grate the cold butter.

If you have particularly warm hands, you may find it helpful to rinse them in cold water for a minute or two. And use the butter wrapper to hold the butter, to prevent melting.

Grated butter on a plate with a grater

How to soften butter in a microwave

Learning how to soften butter in a microwave was game changing for me. I use this method all the time as it’s so quick!

All you need to do is cut the butter into cubes and place them on a plate or bowl. Then microwave in 5-10 second intervals, until softened.

Make sure you use a microwavable bowl or plate. And DO NOT put the foil butter wrapper in your microwave! You may also find it helpful to reduce your microwave’s power to half.

Do keep an eye on it throughout, to ensure you don’t over soften it though.

A plate of cubed butter in a microwave

Soften butter quickly using a warm glass

Another quick way to soften butter is by using the warm glass technique.

Simply boil the kettle and fill a large glass with hot water. Leave it to heat up for 5 minutes. Then place your butter vertically on a plate, drain the hot water from the glass, and place it over the butter. Leave to stand for another 5 minutes to soften.

This works great in the US as they have thinner sticks of butter. The downside here in the UK, is that our whole butter blocks probably won’t fit under a glass. So you may need to cut it in half vertically and repeat the process.

Do take care when handling the hot glass! Use an oven glove or kitchen towel if necessary.

A glass of hot water and a kettle
A warm glass over a stick of butter on a plate

Helpful Tips!

Here are some tips you’ll find helpful when softening butter.

  • Need a hands off approach? Simply take your butter out the fridge, and leave on side at least 1 hour before using.
  • Prone to forgetting? Set a reminder on your phone to bring your butter to room temperature.
  • Need to soften butter really quickly? Remember to increase the surface area.
  • Remember that the Seasons and weather will affect how quickly butter will soften. If it’s a hot day it will be quicker, if it’s a cold day it will take longer.
  • Using the grating method? Freeze your grater as well as the butter. And rinse your hands in cold water before you start grating.
  • Never put metal (including foil butter wrappers) in your microwave!
  • If using the hot glass method, take care when handling the glass.
Someone putting a plate of cubed butter down next to flour, eggs and sugar.

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A box grater and grated butter on a plate

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Someone putting a plate of cubed butter down next to flour, eggs and sugar.

How to Soften Butter, 4 Ways! - Printable

Yield: 250g (8.8 oz)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Need softened butter quick, but it's rock hard? Don't have time to wait? Learn how to soften butter using 4 different techniques!


  • 250g (8.8 oz) Butter

Essential equipment

  • Grater (for the grating method)
  • Sharp Knife (for the microwave method)
  • Microwavable bowl or plate (for the microwave method)
  • Microwave (for the microwave method)
  • Kettle or Saucepan (for the hot glass method)
  • Large Glass (for the hot glass method)
  • Plate (for the hot glass method)


Room temperature method

  1. Take your butter out the fridge and leave on the side at room temperature. If it's a warm day, it will take less than 1 hour. If it's a cold day, it will take longer.
  2. Cutting your butter into cubes will speed up the process.

Grating method

  1. Place your butter and grater into the freezer for 30 minutes. Once cold, grate your butter quickly.

Microwave method

  1. Cut your butter into cubes and place on a microwavable bowl or plate.
  2. Microwave in 5-10 second intervals (you may need to use the half power setting) until softened.

Hot glass method

  1. Bring water to the boil in a kettle or a saucepan. Pour it into a large glass and stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Place your butter onto a plate. Drain the water from the hot glass and place it, upside down, over the butter. Leave to stand for 5 minutes until softened. You may need to cut your butter in half vertically and repeat the process if if won't fit in whole.


See the main post for more details. Including pros, cons and tips.

Be sure to read the section Helpful Tips! for lots of useful information before you begin softening your butter.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 18 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 102Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7.3gTrans Fat: 0.5gUnsaturated Fat: 3.4gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 91mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0.1g

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