This Brilliant Butter-Softening Hack Will Change the Way You Bake

published Dec 29, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman
We Softened Butter 7 Different Ways and Found an Unexpected Favorite

Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to soften butter in the microwave but just ended up with a melted pool. Now, raise your hand if you’ve done that this week. I definitely have both hands high in the air. So many baking recipes require room-temperature butter, but few of us keep a stash of perfectly softened butter on our countertops at all times. And using the microwave to do the job never works quite right … until now!

During a social media catch-up session last week, I came across a Reel from the foodie account @maxiskitchen that stopped me mid-scroll. The video host, Maxine Sharf, uses the microwave to soften her butter, but instead of attempting to perfect the mysterious combination of power level and time, she approaches the task a little differently.

In the video, Maxine instructs readers to microwave water for three to four minutes, until very hot and steaming. She then replaces the container of water with a plate of sliced, cold butter, and quickly closes the door. After about 10 minutes, the butter will be softened to room temperature: ”Perfect for your next batch of cookies,” Maxine says. 

Instagram commenters really liked this trick, too. With over 2,800 likes and plenty of comments, it looks like I’m not the only one eager to put it to the test. As one commenter noted, it’s “so helpful” for bakers who don’t always plan ahead. Homemade sweet treats whenever I want? Now this is the kind of kitchen hack I live for.

If you’re going to try this hack, however, there are two things you should keep in mind when doing so. First, you’ll want to make sure your water is in a heat-proof container. In the video, Maxi microwaves her water in a large glass measuring cup with a handle. Because the water will be at an almost-boil, it’s crucial that the container you use is both microwave-safe and can handle high temperatures.

And secondly, it’s crucial to be speedy when you replace the water with the butter. This trick relies on the accumulated steam from the water, which gently softens the butter without melting it. Leave the door open too long, and you’ll lose all that previous heat.

So, if you’ve been hoping for a quicker way to get your butter softened, this is one hack you’ll want to keep handy. But if this doesn’t work for you, you can always try one of these seven butter-softening methods instead.