The difference between salted and unsalted butter

What's the difference between salted and unsalted butter, and which is better for use in cooking or baking? Here are the answers and lots of recipes that use butter.

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The difference between salted and unsalted butter

As you're looking at recipes, you may notice that some call for either salted or unsalted butter. But what's the difference between salted and unsalted butter? And if the recipe doesn't state which type to use, which should you choose? Get all the answers below.

What is salted butter?

Butter is made from churned cow’s milk and consists of mostly butter fats. Butter is generally about 80% fat, with the remaining 20% consisting of water and milk solids.

Salted butter has salt added. The salt content is usually between 1.5%-2%, depending on the brand. Salt not only adds flavour, but it acts as a preservative giving butter a longer shelf life of about 3 months.

Using salted butter is ideal for all types of cooking and is a great way to add extra flavour, with no need to add extra salt.

However, using salted butter in baking is not always so straight forward. Salted butter can make your baked goods too salty, clouding the flavour and delicate sweetness of your recipe.

What is unsalted butter?

Pure butter with no salt added. Unsalted butter has a shorter shelf life of approximately 1 month, and for this reason it is usually a fresher product than salted butter.

For baking aficionados, unsalted butter is often the butter of choice. It gives the baker total control over the salt content and resulting flavour of the finished product.

Using unsalted butter is also more convenient, as the cook doesn’t have to adjust the salt content of the recipe depending on the saltiness of the butter.

Does "butter" in a recipe mean salted or unsalted butter?

As a general rule of thumb, most savoury recipes that list butter as an ingredient are referring to salted butter. Baking recipes are usually referring to unsalted butter. 

Do I really need to use unsalted butter?

Yes, if your recipe specifically requests for unsalted butter, then make that extra trip to the supermarket for it.

Baking is a delicate science and balance of ingredients in chemistry. Adding salt to some sweet dessert recipes can cause it to fail.

What is salt reduced butter?

Now available is salt reduced butter which contains approximately 1% salt. This type of salt was created for those who enjoy the taste of butter but want to reduce the amount of salt in their diet.

Recipes using butter

It's no secret that butter makes food taste great, discover plenty of butter recipes below or check out this collection of Western Star butter recipes.

Get the recipe: Herb butters three ways

These delicious butters are great for flavouring steaks, chicken and fish. Get more herb butter tips and recipes.

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