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Salted vs. Unsalted Butter

No more debating in the dairy section
Salted vs. Unsalted Butter
Photo: Rebecca Seigel via Flickr

As Julia Child once said, “With enough butter, anything is good.” And while we hardly disagree with that statement, two questions still remain: What’s the difference between salted and unsalted butter, and is one better than the other?

The first clue is right on the packaging:  Salted butter contains added salt, while unsalted does not.

But let’s dig a little deeper.

 Unsalted butter is “fresher” than salted butter.
Since salting is a preserving mechanism, this means additional preservatives are added to salted butter during processing. Brands contain varying amounts of sodium; however, it’s been reported that there is an average of 80 milligrams of salt per 10-gram serving. Extra salt also means a longer shelf life—salted butter lasts up to three to four months longer than unsalted butter.

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 Unsalted butter is used more often in baking.
Some recipes call for salted butter while others use unsalted, and there’s a deliberate reason. Most baking recipes call for unsalted butter so it’s easier to control the taste and amount of sodium present in the dish. If a recipe says to use unsalted butter and you have only salted, use your best discretion and either reduce or eliminate the additional amount of sodium called for in the recipe.


At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong type of butter to use. Leave it up to your taste buds to decide.

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