The One-Finger Trick For Testing Room Temperature Butter That Works Every Time

You're about to make your best lemon gooey butter cookies yet. You go through the recipe and tick every ingredient on the list. That is, until you reach "½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature." Without a thermometer at hand, you're at an impasse ... or are you? Not if you've armed yourself with the one-finger trick, which is hands down the easiest hack for testing butter's temperature.

It may be that you're too afraid to let your butter melt past its hard state or that you often leave it for so long that it gets too soft. Use the wisdom of your finger to avoid these extremes and land right in the middle. To tell if the butter has reached room temperature, gently press down on it using your finger. If it forms a dent without leaving grease on your finger, the butter is ready.

If, however, the butter doesn't form a slight indent after you press down, then it's still too hard. If your finger sinks right into it and makes a deep impression while leaving your finger coated with grease, then the butter is too soft. It's a quick and easy test that requires no extra tools except the one you have on hand — literally.

The road to room temperature butter

The most straightforward way to achieve room-temperature butter is to take it out of the refrigerator one or two hours before using it. Let it cool down and use the one-finger trick to test if it has reached the desired state. If you've committed the heinous crime of forgetting to take the butter out, you're not quite in hot water, but your butter may be. Or rather, it will need the hot water bath technique to rescue it.

Pour hot water into a bowl big enough to cover the butter sticks like a dome (not too large). After a few minutes, dump out the water and use the bowl to cover the butter for a few minutes until it's soft. You can speed up softening by cutting the butter into chunks instead of leaving it as a huge slab.

Or, if you're feeling particularly enthusiastic, you can pound it with a rolling pin. Just cover it with a Ziploc bag and give it three or four whacks until it flattens out. After that, let it sit for a few minutes on the countertop, and it'll be up to room temperature. For even more options, you can always refer to our 11 best ways to soften butter. There's guaranteed to be a method best suited to you.