The Different Types of Butter and When to Use Them

Butter used to be a simple decision, whether at the supermarket or in front of your fridge: You only had to decide if you wanted it salted or not. There are many options available in stores today, and there are more recipes that specify specific types of Butter.

Confused by the differences and how to use them? Let’s dispel the myths surrounding Butter.

Unsalted Butter

Butter is all-purpose. Unsalted Butter can be used for almost anything. This is the Butter to use if a recipe only calls for “butter.” Unsalted Butter has a creamy, pure flavor. The cook can control the salt level in recipes, which makes it ideal for baking and savory cooking. Unsalted Butter will have between 16 and 18% water but 80% butterfat. I prefer to buy “half-sticks” because they give me the greatest flexibility when it comes to Butter, particularly for baking.

Salted Butter

If a recipe does not specifically call for salted Butter, it can be used to spread on crackers and toast. As salt was added to Butter originally as a preservation agent, many people believed that commercially salted Butter was made with inferior cream or less quality butter. It’s really a matter of taste preference these days. If you’re a fan of “Butter on Counter,” it is best to use salted Butter in your butter bell as it will keep longer.

Do you leave Butter out on the counter or keep it in the fridge?

Butter of European style

European Butter is higher in butterfat than American Butter and is the preferred Butter for chefs, home cooks, and bakers. American Butter must have at least 80% butterfat in order to be considered Butter. European butter, or American “European style” (or European-style) butter, has between 82% to 90% butterfat and a maximum of 16% water. This gives them a richer taste. They are perfect for spreading on toast at the dinner table. But they can also make a difference in sauces, which are enhanced with Butter or rich baked goods.

Whipping Butter

These tubs of salted Butter are a good option for those who want Butter to be more spreadable, even straight from the fridge. If you live in an area with a high temperature, these are the best options. These are perfect for toast, pancakes, and baked potatoes. You can whip your Butter if you wish. Just use a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer to beat cool, room-temperature Butter until it becomes aerated. It should be stored in a refrigerator in an airtight container. We do not recommend using whipped cream in recipes without weighing it. The aeration can make volume measurements inaccurate.

Vegan Butter

On the market, you can find a wide variety of vegan butters that are both salted and unsalted. There are options made from vegetable oil as well as almond oil and olive oil. Cashew milk and coconut oil can also be used. These butter alternatives are just as good for baking, spreading, melting, or browning.

Clarified butter (ghee) and clarified butter

Clarified Butter is Butter that has been cooked in order to remove water and milk solids, leaving only pure butterfat. Clarified Butter has a higher smoke point. This means that you can use it to cook without burning. You will have to make clarified Butter yourself unless you shop at a restaurant supplies house.

Ghee, a South Asian clarified butter style, is made by allowing the milk solids to brown and then straining them out. This gives it a nutty taste. Ghee can be found in most grocery stores. It is great to have on hand for sautéing or other high-heat cooking. Both products are great for people who have sensitivities to dairy but no allergies.

Browned Butter

Brown Butter is also known as hazelnut butter in France. This refers to the deep brown color, nutty aroma, and complex flavor of this Butter. Brown Butter is Butter that has been melted and then further cooked until the water evaporates. The milk solids become brown and toasty.

Cultured Butter

The final product is a cultured butter made from cream that has fermented slightly. This intensifies the flavor and adds tangy notes. This Butter is perfect for spreading on toast, topping vegetables, or creating compound butter. It’s also great for drizzled-over popcorn. It is not recommended to use it in recipes unless it is specifically called for. The tangy taste can be very strong.

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