Has anyone ever used salted butter in a recipe that calls for unsalted butter? Specifically, I am making molasses cookies and my recipe also calls for half a teaspoon of salt. Can I omit the salt and use salted butter? My recipe calls for one and a half sticks of unsalted butter.



Stephanie G. February 27, 2015
Always. I don't even buy unsalted butter anymore.
Edna M. February 26, 2015
I only have three sticks of unsalted butter to make Italian meringue buttercream and it calls for four. What can I do?
keg72 February 26, 2015
If you have one, use a stick of salted. Otherwise, you'll have to make just 75% of the buttercream recipe.
mr.ikslopot October 30, 2010
I made ischler tortchen and accidentally used salted butter one day. I had very dark chocolate. It was fabulous; however, I enjoy strong flavors.
innoabrd October 16, 2010
Pepper in sweets is far underrated. I always add some when I make an apple pie or other fruit cobbler. There was a great recipe for a black pepper chocolate cake in the NYT some years back. Actually, I think it was an Amanda recipe...
AntoniaJames October 15, 2010
I was thinking about this a little while ago . . . specifically, how I might even add a small pinch each of salt and of finely crushed red peppercorns to the sugar in which I roll my molasses cookies before baking, the next time I make them . . . so glad yours turned out well. I had a feeling they would. ;o)
calendargirl October 15, 2010
Great discussion and I so appreciate everyone's thinking. It was a first for me, since I have always used unsalted butter when baking. The results --- ta da! -- herewith: my recipe was Dorie Greenspan's Molasses-Spice Cookies (from Baking From My Home to Yours) and in the end I did use the called-for half teaspoon of salt (I made it a scant half teaspoon, feeling a bit cautious) along with the stick and a half of salted butter (Safeway brand). The cookies, one of our favorites, were terrific. I also was more generous than I usually am with the pepper that is called for in the recipe, so the cookies were spicy and peppery and just plain wonderful. Thanks again to all!
Aliwaks October 15, 2010
I've been baking alot with salted butter because I like the salt/sweet combo, made a few pumpkin cookies last night and not only used salted butter but finished them with a mix of fleur du sel & sugar on top. I've make caramel and dark chocolate butter cream using salted butter (yum!) and love the dimension it adds to cakes, the one place I wouldn't use it is with citrus or fruit flavored cookies/cakes, but that's just my taste preference.
Savour October 15, 2010
Well, I might get my foodie credentials revoked here, but I always bake with salted butter, even when the recipe calls for sweet-- I think most baked goods err on the too sweet, not salty enough side as it is. We keep salted butter in the house (we also eat a lot of toast, and I just prefer it) and I quite like the flavor of salted butter in most things (though I full believe preferences vary. Still, I've never heard ANY complaints that my baked goods are too salty.)
Christina W. October 15, 2010
Interesting discussion. As a long time baker, I always use unsalted butter. But alas, I've used salted for baking in a pinch. I'm with Antonia, a strong flavored cookies will not be negatively affected by the salted butter. I would go ahead with the recipe as is.
innoabrd October 15, 2010
The compulsive among you might try making your own butter sometime with high quality cream. very simple stuff, it's whipped cream taken too far.

When we lived in India I could buy fresh sweet cream butter at the market and it was truly delicious and wonderful for baking. Doesn't have quite the same presentation--no smooth, solid block, it sort of clumps together. Mind you, one advantage in India was probably the fat content of the cream, which was exceptionally high as all the dairy was a mixture of cow and buffalo milk. Whole milk was about 6%, vs. 3-4% in the US.

Commercial butters are often 'cultured', especially in europe. That is, they are made from soured cream or sometimes soured after the fact. I'm simplifying, but the point is that when you make it at home using fresh cream you do end up with a different product than most commercial butter.
betteirene October 14, 2010
A lot of the old-fashioned handwritten recipes given to me over the years call for "sweet butter." I think that unsalted butter adds a layer of sweetness without additional sugar.

I watched the "Yellow Cake" episode of America's Test Kitchen and was so impressed by the Foolproof Chocolate Frosting that I had to make it right then. It calls for 20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter, and of course, I didn't have any. I made it anyway with the salted butter and omitted the pinch of salt specified in the recipe, and was taken aback by how much salt I tasted. It wasn't off-putting, just unexpectedly salty. I made it correctly a month later, and what a difference. . .for the better.

Past experience showed me that sables, Mexican Wedding cookies and chocolate chip cookies taste different, but not necessarily salty, if salted butter is used. My favorite brownie recipe calls for unsalted, but I can't tell the difference when I use salted--probably because chocolate, not butter, is the predominant flavor. I figured the same would hold true for the frosting, but it sure didn't, even though it is very chocolatey.

In your situation, I'm sure your cookies will be fine if you use the salted butter and omit the regular salt called for. Next time you make them, used unsalted butter. If the difference is notable, highlight the word "unsalted" in the recipe and make sure to use it every time.

mrslarkin October 14, 2010
1/2 teaspoon salt is not much for an entire batch of cookies. I would not omit it. Especially for a super-sweet recipe like molasses cookies. I love when a cookie has that salty/sweet thing going on. But this is just my personal taste. Let us know what you end up doing, calendargirl.
AntoniaJames October 14, 2010
This is all very useful information, and I'd be interested in hearing from calendargirl how the cookies turn out. For the record, though, for molasses cookies, which have a lot of strong flavors, are sweet and don't involve chemical reactions that you need to worry about, I wouldn't make any adjustments. Plus, I think a little extra salt makes molasses cookies in particular taste better, especially when there is coffee in the recipe. ;o)
calendargirl October 14, 2010
Foodpickle to the rescue again! Foodfighter, thanks for the listing of the salt content of the several brands! Very helpful, indeed. My math tells me I will be OK by omitting the salt. I am actually trying to use up some salted butter brought into the house by a well-meaning teen-aged shopper.

Voted the Best Reply!

foodfighter October 14, 2010
First, unsalted butter is generally fresher. The salt is added as a preservative. If you won't go through unsalted butter you can freeze or make clarified butter that has a lot longer shelf life.

Since you only have salted, I can say that the salt content varies by brand. See below.

• Kerry Gold: 50 milligrams
• Land O’Lakes: 95 milligrams
• Challenge: 90 milligrams
• Safeway O Organics: 90 milligrams
• Straus: 45 milligrams
• Horizon: 115 milligrams
• Lucerne: 90 milligrams

I have seen that salted butter is usually between 1.6 and 1.7% salt. So each stick is 113 grams or so about 2 grams of salt. That means that there is 1/3 of a teaspoon of salt in each stick of butter (i.e. 4 ounces). So if you recipe calls for a stick and a teaspoon salt, I would add 1 stick and 2/3 teaspoon salt.
pierino October 14, 2010
Yes, TiggyBee is right. Most cooks recommend using unsalted butter so that you can control the salt. Because once it's in you can't take it out!
TiggyBee October 14, 2010
I've done it before in a pinch, but the trouble is you can never be sure just how much salt is in salted butter. I would definitely omit the half teaspoon of salt in the recipe. Hope that helps!!
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