How To Soften Butter In The Microwave

Several baking recipes require softened butter. And if you do not know how to soften the butter in the microwave, you would be wasting your time using other methods.

Trust me, in the pursuit of perfectly softened butter for spreading, I have tried almost every butter softening method. I remember cutting butter into smaller pieces and leaving it on the counter. The condensation changed the butter’s consistency.

Imagine if you want to bake something immediately, and the butter is resting on the countertop living its best life. Well, that happened to me once. I left the butter on the counter to soften. And it did soften… 30 minutes later. 

I also used the rolling pin method, but it created so much mess in my kitchen. I still get nightmares about it.

And finally, when I microwaved the butter, I realized that it was the best method.

So, what are you waiting for? Let me teach you how to soften butter in the microwave!

How do you soften butter in the microwave?

To soften the butter in the microwave:

  1. Place the butter on a microwave-safe plate. Do not take off the butter stick wrapper yet.
  2. Microwave it for 5 seconds on 30% power.
  3. After the interval, flip the stick of butter to the other side.
  4. Keep microwaving the butter for 5 seconds intervals till it is done.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, it is not.

The secret to softening butter in the microwave is shorter time intervals. If you microwave the butter for any longer than 10-second intervals, it might start melting. And, recipes that ask for softened butter do not work well with melted butter.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to unwrap the butter while microwaving. Because it can cause a mess, it also exposes the butter to direct heat that can melt it.

Alternatively, you can use the defrost feature to soften the butter. But all of the other steps will remain the same.

Is it safe to soften butter in the microwave?

Yes, it is safe to soften the butter in the microwave. Microwaving the butter is faster, but it is also easy and mess-free. However, remember not to unwrap the butter stick while microwaving.

There are a few tips that you should never forget when softening butter in the microwave.

First of all, always put the butter on a microwave-safe plate. If you are using a plastic or metal container, it can ruin your microwave and even cause a fire hazard. Even if the microwave does not explode, the chemicals from the plastic container can still latch to the butter and make it toxic.

Next up, for two main reasons, never unwrap the butter when microwaving it.

  1. Unwrapping the butter causes it to heat up faster, and hence there are higher chances of the butter melting down.
  2. The softened butter will get stuck to the microwave-safe bowl and increase the number of dishes you have to wash.

Lastly, always follow the instructions related to the time and microwave power. Because if you microwave the butter for even a few seconds more than needed, it can melt. And if you use a higher power setting than recommended, the butter might also burn.

How long does it take to soften butter in the microwave?

The length of time it takes to soften the butter in the microwave depends on many factors. For example, the temperature of the butter, microwave wattage, On average, it takes around 25-30 seconds to soften butter in the microwave at 30% power. 

Some lower wattage microwaves can take even 45-60 seconds to soften the butter. So, you can turn the microwave power to 50% if your microwave has lower wattage.

Similarly, higher wattage microwaves have a higher risk of melting or burning the butter stick. If you have a higher wattage microwave, I advise you to decrease the power or shorten the time interval.

Furthermore, if you are softening multiple sticks of butter, then it would take longer than softening one butter. Just keep checking the doneness of each butter stick in between the intervals to prevent melting or burning.

How do you know when butter is softened in the microwave?

When the butter is done softening in the microwave, the most obvious sign would be its texture. If you press your fingertip on the butter softly and it leaves a dent, the butter has softened.

Finding out if the butter has softened in the microwave is easy. As the name suggests, its texture changes when the butter has softened.

If you cannot touch the butter for some reason, then there is another way to determine whether the butter has softened. Butter softens at 68°F to 72ºF. 

Now all you need is a food-grade thermometer. Between each microwave interval, check the internal temperature of the butter stick.

Beware, do not let the butter temperature rise more than 72ºF, or the butter will start melting. And melted butter does not work great with the recipes that require softened butter.

Tips to Soften Butter in The Microwave

The process of softening butter in the microwave seems like a straightforward task. But a lot of things can go wrong and ruin the whole process.

These tips will help you to soften the butter in the microwave quickly.

  1. Only use microwave-safe plates and bowls when you put butter in the microwave to soften. If you use metal or plastic containers, they can cause a fire hazard.
  2. Do not unwrap the butter while microwaving it. By removing the paper, the butter is exposed to more heat, and hence it can end up melting.
  3. If you kept the butter in a deep freezer, you could leave it on the counter for half an hour to defrost first. Do not unwrap it during the defrosting process. And after that, microwave it to soften the butter.
  4. Microwave the butter for only short intervals. Do not microwave it for more than 10 seconds at a time, or it can melt or burn due to the high heat exposure.
  5. During each interval, check if the butter has softened or not.
  6. Flip the butter stick during each interval to ensure it gets softened from each side.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you soften the butter on the countertop?

Yes, you can soften butter on the countertop. Leaving butter at the counter is considered a fantastic way to soften it. According to the USDA, you can leave the butter on the countertop for as long as 2 days. 

However, I do not recommend this method. Yes, it is an easy method, but it also takes 30 minutes to an hour to soften the butter. And if you need softened butter immediately, there is no method better than microwaving.

What is the fastest way to melt butter?

There are two fast ways to melt butter. And both of these methods can be done with a microwave.

The first method is to microwave the butter with its wrapper for 5-second at 30% power. And the second method is to warm up half a cup of water in the microwave first and then place the butter in it.

However, in my experience, the hot water bath method is messy. And if the butter is not wrapped correctly, the water can get in contact with it and change its consistency.

Final Words

Congratulations, now you finally know how to soften butter in the microwave. But before you leave, remember to always microwave the butter with its wrapper on. By removing the wrapper, the butter might melt.

If you want to soften butter for spreading or baking, it is time to sharpen your skills. Warm up the microwave and soften butter sticks.

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