The Hot Jar Trick That Will Help You Soften Butter Quickly

At some point, we've all needed some softened butter. Perhaps you need it to spread on your breakfast toast or bagel before rushing out the door in the morning. Or perhaps it's for one of the many baking recipes that call specifically for softened butter. Whatever the reason, you meant to take the butter out ahead of time to thaw out on the counter, but you forgot, and now the butter is a hard mass, and you don't have a lot of time to soften the butter before baking. Luckily, there's a hot jar trick that takes just minutes.

Simply fill a microwave- and heat-safe jar, like a mason jar, with water and warm it in the microwave for around two minutes. After heating, dump the water out, flip the jar over, and cover the butter with it. Let the stick of butter stand vertically if possible for better results. Wait for around five minutes and your butter should be at just the right softness for spreading and creaming. Alternatively, you can boil water in a pot on the stove, and then fill the jar to heat it up before covering the butter with it.

The importance of softened butter

Although softened butter may sound like a vague term, it's actually quite specific. Softened butter should be around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. As Land O'Lakes explains, butter is properly softened when you can easily squeeze it between two fingers, or it leaves an indentation without losing its shape when pressed with a finger or the back of a spoon. Left on its own on the counter, butter from the fridge should take anywhere from around 30 minutes to upwards of an hour to soften, depending on how warm your kitchen is, which could be more time than you have.

Many baking recipes, including cakes, cookies, and muffins, call for softened butter. That's because they use the creaming method, where butter and sugar are mixed to create air pockets, which help make the final baked good light and fluffy. Butter that's too hard won't cream easily. Nor you do want to use butter that's melted too much, especially if you're baking cookies — there's a reason you should never soften butter in the microwave when baking cookies, as your cookies may just melt in the oven. So the next time you have a recipe that calls for softened butter, and you don't have a lot of time, simply use the hot jar trick for the perfect results.