The Hack To Quickly Soften Butter Is As Easy As Cutting It Up

You're ready to make amazing homemade chocolate chip cookies and, practicing mise en place, you've got all your ingredients measured and set out. When you reread the recipe, you realize it calls for softened butter, not the cold, hard stick fresh from your fridge. Before you fret and scrap your baking adventure, we've got the hack for you to soften butter quickly, and it's as easy as cutting it up.

The hack is simple. Grab a butter knife or bench knife and transfer the butter to a stable surface or cutting board. Then, cut it into small, even pieces, like slices or cubes. Cutting the butter into smaller pieces and leaving them on the counter will significantly expedite its softening process. The smaller pieces each have their surface areas exposed to room temperature warmth, compared to an intact stick of butter. In about 20 minutes or so, the butter will soften nicely and be ready for you to cream with sugar to make your perfect cookies. This quick fix is efficient, and you don't risk melting the butter like you would if you popped it into the microwave or a warm oven.

Different hacks to soften butter quickly

Let's say you don't have 20 minutes to spare to soften the butter. In that case, you can further decrease the butter's surface area to speed up the process. This technique involves using a cheese grater to transform the butter into thin shreds. The finely shredded butter has a vastly increased surface area, which allows it to warm up and soften much more quickly than larger pieces. It's a trade-off between a little extra effort in preparation and a significant reduction in waiting time.

Another quick and effective method to soften cold butter is to use a warmed cup or bowl. Fill a bowl or cup with hot water and let it sit for a minute or two to warm the vessel. Then, empty the water, reserving it for later use. Invert the warmed container over a stick of butter, which can remain in its parchment wrapper. The heat and steam trapped inside will create a mini greenhouse effect, gently and quickly softening the butter without melting it. 

While the grating and warm cup or bowl methods can soften butter quickly, the most straightforward hack is to cut the butter into smaller pieces and leave it on the counter. This method balances minimal effort and reasonable softening time, making it a go-to solution for most of your baking needs.