The Best Butter for Your Toast: We Tried 7 Brands and Ranked Them

The Best Butter for Your Toast: We Tried 7 Brands and Ranked Them

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Ariel Knutson
Feb 27, 2015
Butter, glorious.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

There are two kinds of butter in life (and at the grocery store): The butter you cook with for fat and flavor, and the butter that is the star of the show – the one you spread on toast, or add as a finishing touch to an otherwise bland baked potato. When it comes to the latter, how do you decide which one to buy at the grocery store? There are so many options!

During our editorial and product team retreat in Florida last week, I asked everyone to participate in a blind taste test of seven different brands of salted butter. Can you guess which butter brand we thought was the best?

Setting up the blind taste test.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Why Taste Test Butter for Toast?

Butter is an essential element in the kitchen. But quality salted butter, the kind that is made for toast or a standard baked potato, gilds everything it touches.

But how do you decide what to buy at the grocery store when presented with so many options? Do you go with the European brands because they look fancier and have more butterfat? Or do you stay with the brands you know and use for everyday baking? I decided to find out.

Dig in!
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

How the 7 Brands Were Selected

I wanted a variety of brands from a large chain grocery store that almost anyone could get in the United States. I visited a Publix in Florida and chose six brands that I had also seen in New York, and I also purchased the generic grocery store salted butter from Publix.

You'll notice that the butters I chose vary in fat, sodium, cream, and packaging (which affects the flavor). This was not a factor in choosing the types of butter, but most likely helped determine preference. We were just looking for the tastiest.

How We Set Up the Blind Taste Test

For the blind taste test, I purchased seven different kinds of salted butter at a Publix grocery store in Florida. I assigned each butter a letter and set them out at room temperature on individual plates, with individual knives. I cut up two loaves of baguette into one-inch pieces to taste the butter. The bread was not toasted in order to get a better sense of that raw butter taste.

I asked each taste tester to give me their thoughts on all seven butters and to say their favorite, their second favorite, and their least favorite.

Scott Trudeau, our CTO, searches for words.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

The Taste Test Results

Here are the results from the least-favored butter to the most.

7. Cabot Salted Butter – $5.79 at Publix (1 pound)

The overall takeaway from this butter is that it felt weird in people's mouths. I took all the butters out of the refrigerator at the same time, but this one melted quickly and felt oily.

This butter is made from sweet cream and a pinch of salt.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This feels oily to me, but fairly light flavor, decent."
  • "This feels slippery."
  • "This tastes very oily and slippery."
  • "A tastes fake, artificial."
  • "I don’t like this one."

6. Publix GreenWise Salted Butter – $5.99 (1 pound)

I wanted to include a grocery store brand in this taste test to see how it would compare to competitors. The biggest takeaway was that this butter, just like Breakstone's salted butter, was that it wasn't anything to write home about.

This butter is made out of organic sweet cream and salt.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "I like the texture of this butter."
  • "This is so neutral, a total blank."
  • "This one doesn’t have much character."
  • "This one is like 'do you have butter? and you respond 'I have this, I guess?' It's just whatever.”
  • "This is bland and doesn't have a lot of flavor."

5. Breakstone's Salted Butter – $2.79 at Publix (.5 pounds)

Like the organic Greenwise salted butter, this one was kind of bland. It had a interesting creamy texture compared to the rest, but some found that unpleasant.

This butter is made from cream, salt, and natural flavors.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This butter is very creamy."
  • "This is super creamy, maybe distractingly so."
  • "This butter is creamy and offensive."
  • "It doesn’t taste like butter – it’s kinda salty and whatever."
  • "Bland and tasteless."
  • "This is default butter – not in a good way."
Kelli, our assistant editor, ponders.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

4. Land O'Lakes Salted Butter – $2.59 at Publix (.5 pounds)

This butter didn't have a ton of flavor, but it was a solid contender. We thought it would be better for baking than eating with toast or a baked potato.

This butter is made out of sweet cream and salt.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This one is super neutral, very low butter taste, nothing special."
  • "Has a nice light flavor, good personality."
  • "This is a good baking butter."

3. Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter – $3.59 at Publix (.5 pounds)

This one was a little saltier than the rest, but that was a welcome addition to un-toasted bread. There was more depth of flavor in this butter too – interesting that someone said it was almost "bitter."

This imported butter is made out of pasteurized milk, salt, and cheese culture and enzymes.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This one has a nice color; it's what I want butter to look like, light flavor, nice salt level."
  • "I like the salt in this butter."
  • "This one had a long finish."
  • "This one is almost a little bitter, it keeps going."
  • "It might not be butter."
  • "It's salty."
Matt Wondra, Senior Front-End Web Developer, has had just a bit too much butter.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

2. Plugra Salted Butter – $2.79 at Publix (.5 pounds)

This butter looked very different from the other butters when they were lined up – it was a little more white, instead of gold. It was a little more mild than the winner of the blind taste test, but had a similar consistency.

Plugra is a European-style butter that contains pasteurized cream, salt, and natural flavors.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "It looks like cream cheese."
  • "This one tastes like BUTTER, too fake."
  • "It has a butter character, a little bit of personality."
  • "This one is mild but nice."

1. President Imported Salted Butter – $3.00 at Publix (.5 pounds)

This butter really stood out during the taste test. This one had a lot of flavor – almost like the butter you taste on popcorn. The majority of the taste testers chose this one as their favorite — except for one person who said it was their least favorite.

This butter is made in the Normandy region of France. It is made out of pasteurized cream, lactic starter, and salt.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This one felt very firm."
  • "It tastes more like butter to me."
  • "This is what butter should taste like, like popcorn butter (in a good way)."
  • "I like this one a lot."
  • "It's an abomination."
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

To be honest, I wasn't too shocked to see that President won the blind taste test. It's definitely strong and an excellent option for toast. I was, however, surprised to see Cabot and Breakstone at the bottom of the list because I use both for cooking. Perhaps their flavor, salt levels, and creaminess are deliberately calibrated for cooking, not spreading.

Have you ever done a taste test on salted butter? Is there one at your supermarket that we missed? Feel free to shout out your favorites!

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