Baking with salted butter?

I was always taught to use unsalted butter in baking. Last night, however, I was in the mood for chocolate chip cookies and all I had was salted butter so I went ahead with it. I didn't decrease the amount of salt in the recipe because I had already mixed the dry ingredients. The cookies were delicious and not all that over salted- so I'm wondering what are the rules on salted butter and baking. I know that what applies for fail-proof choc. chip cookies does not apply for delicate cakes etc... but can anyone shed some light on how much salt is in salted butter and how much it can influence a recipe?

  • Posted by: enbe
  • March 20, 2011


Greenstuff August 14, 2011
drbabs nailed it. There is no problem with cooking with salted butter, it's just that the amount of salt varies (a lot!) by brand and sometimes even within brands. I use unsalted unless I run out and then I don't get too worked up about it.
davidpdx August 14, 2011
To answer your specific question, salted butter has 95 mg sodium per tbs, according to Land O Lakes, and unsalted butter has zero. LOL further says that salted and unsalted are interchangeable in most recipes without adjusting salt, but that is recipes such as butter cookies and pound cake, unsalted results in a better flavor. See
labadeen August 14, 2011
I've heard that a better quality (fresher ingredients anyway) butter is used in unsalted because the consumer would be able to detect off taste. Which salt helps cover up. True, I don't know but I always purchase unsalted incase it is true
littleknitter March 20, 2011
I tend to avoid salted butter always, but my grandma only ever bakes with salted butter and her stuff turns out fine. If I'm in a pinch and working with salted butter, I cut out the salt from the recipe, and like boulangere says, I never put salted butter in icing (although, who knows? Given the sheer amount of sugar in most buttercream frosting recipes, it might not even be noticeable).
boulangere March 20, 2011
I used to be all constipated about ONLY baking and cooking with salted butter, but I'm just not any more. Generally, do reduce the salt a bit if you're using salted, butter, but drbabs point is a very good one. You can follow all the rules, but in the end, sometimes you have to please your own palate. That said, I would say that it's much better to avoid salted butter in any kind of icing.
drbabs March 20, 2011
I think the problem with salted butter is that you don't have any way of knowing how much salt is in it. It's great that your cookies turned out well. I generally reduce the salt a little if all I have is salted butter (but I like salt in sweet baked goods and I suspect you do, too).
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