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Credit: Sarah Crowley
Tips from The Kitchn

We Tested 5 Different Butter Spreaders — The Winner Was Not What We Expected

published Sep 13, 2021
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If you’ve ever tried to spread cold, straight-out-of-the-fridge butter on toast using a mere butter knife, you now how fruitless it can be. Instead of beautifully, evenly buttered toast, you get splotchy, torn bread with some butter here and clumps of butter there.

Luckily there are gadgets to help with this. Ones that promise to spread cold butter just like that — no tears, no problems, no buttery dreams dashed. Of course, I had to know if they worked. And if one worked better than the others. So I set out to do some serious slathering.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

How I Tested the Butter Spreaders

I picked up five of the most popular types of butter spreaders, grabbed some sticks of butter, and got to work — using each tool to spread cold butter onto a piece of toast. I paid attention to see how easy it was to use each tool, how well they spread the butter, and how easy they were to clean.

The ratings: Each method received an overall rating, with 1 being my least favorite and 5 being the best. Like the rest of our showdowns, this one considered the final results, ease, and price. Keep reading — along with the rating, you’ll find more detailed notes.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Butter Spreader Option: Plastic Sleeve

  • Ease: 1
  • Spreading: 3
  • Price: 5 (I paid $4.98 for this model)
  • Rating: 2/5

To use this plastic sleeve, you remove the plunger, add an unwrapped stick of butter, replace the plunger, and then press the plunger upwards with your finger while gliding the butter across whatever it is you’re buttering. The issue is that, for starters, the sleeve only comfortably fits a half stick of butter (four tablespoons). And while it was easy enough to actually spread the butter, the stick moved around as you worked and it was tough to keep the plunger steady enough to stabilize the butter. I did like that this sleeve comes with a cap for storage and that it’s dishwasher-safe, but there are better butter spreaders out there.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Butter Spreader Option: Butter Mill

  • Ease: 2
  • Spreading: 3
  • Price: 3 (I paid $14.99 for this model)
  • Rating: 2/5

This wacky-looking gadget requires you to insert an unwrapped stick of butter, twist the cap on, and then rotate the handle clockwise until curls of butter come out the bottom. It did work! However, for toast, I still needed to use a knife to spread the pasta-esque pieces of butter. (I do think it’d work better for, say, corn on the cob.) And while it does come with a cap for storage, every time you need to store the butter, you have to remove the the plunger and wash it. However, all of the parts are, at least, top-rack dishwasher safe. The product listing for this gadget says you can use it to turn a stick of butter “into a 10-foot ribbon.” I’m still trying to figure out why I’d want to do that!

Credit: Sarah Crowly

Butter Spreader Option: Perforated Butter Knife

  • Ease: 3
  • Spreading: 3
  • Price: 4 (I paid $10.79 for this model)
  • Rating: 3/5

This stainless steel knife had a serrated edge on one side for cutting butter and tiny perforations for curling and spreading butter on the other. However, I didn’t find that these holes did much and did not curl the butter well; they grabbed tiny slabs of butter and became clogged in the process. That said, this knife did spread butter better than a regular butter knife, as it is wider. As you may have guessed, it’s dishwasher-safe.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Butter Spreader Option: Silicone Sleeve

  • Ease: 4
  • Spreading: 5
  • Price: 4 (I paid $10 for this model)
  • Rating: 4/5

This silicone sleeve was lightyears better than the plastic sleeve. To use it, you place a stick of unwrapped butter in the sleeve (it did only fit 6 tablespoons, however the packaging says you can soften the butter slightly to shape it more into the mold). Because it’s made from silicone, you can easily and securely grasp the butter and push forward as you glide and spread the butter. It comes with a cap for easy storage and is dishwasher-safe, too.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Butter Spreader Option: Stainless Steel Spreader

  • Ease: 4.5
  • Spreading: 4
  • Price: 5 (I paid $4.99 for this model)
  • Rating: 4.5/5

This is also called a sandwich knife. There are tons of them out there and they are all designed similarly: An elongated, tear drop-shaped blade with tiny serrations on one side and a stout handle. I didn’t expect this to work better than a dedicated butter gadget, but the serrations allow you to slice off butter, while the wide head easily spreads it. It works pretty well for cold butter, but, admittedly, even better for room-temperature butter. It was the most non-fuss, versatile spreader I tried and, indeed, is great for spreading condiments on sandwiches too. Simpler really can be butter — er, better — sometimes!

Do you have a favorite butter spreader? Tell us about it in the comments.