Butter: Salted vs: Unsalted

Exclusively, I buy unsalted butter… but I occasionally run into recipes that called for salted butter. So how much salt to add?

Ideally I am looking for a weight here (as opposed to a volume), but if volume based, so long as I know what kind of salt you are using, I can do the math.

I would recommend buying salted butter when the recipe calls for it. Adding salt to the recipe doesn’t incorporate it into the recipe in the same way that using salted butter does.

Also most recipes I’ve come across that call for salted butter are calling for European style butter. American and European style butter are not interchangeable as American butter has a higher water content.

I keep American style unsalted butter and European style salted butter (preferably cultured) in the freezer at all times.


It’s about 1/4 tsp table/sea salt per 113 g butter, but it can vary. This is usually somewhere around 2 g (a bit under). There’s no reason to worry about it because you can just add salt to taste if it’s something like a flavored butter you’re making. If it’s in baking, shoot for a minimum of 1% salt if it’s cakes and cookies, and 1.5%-2% for bread and savory pastry. A lot of cookies are good with 2% salt, but if you shoot for 1% on a first try due to being unsure, at the very least you won’t find a glaring lack of salt. You’ll also know when to use more based on instinct that comes with experience.

This is in baker’s percentages, btw, so the percentage is based on the weight of the flour.


the USA there is no formal / legal definition of how much salt is in “salted butter”
general range is 1.6 to 1.7 percent by weight salt.

the EU specifies maximum 2% salt.


In France, there are 2 types of salted butter, “demi-sel” - half salt means between 0.5 - 3%, there is also a version “salé”, “full salt” it’s around 5%.


What are a few recipes calling for salted butter?
I usually keep unsalted butter from local California Dairies when it goes on sale, but somehow ended up with a lot of “European style”. I’d planned to save it for baking, but I don’t bake much. Anything else I should know about “European style” butter?

i, too, generally use unsalted, but always have a couple of packages of trader joe’s cultured salted butter in the freezer for two cookie recipes from the new york times: alison roman’s salted chocolate chunk shortbread and melissa clark’s cultured butter cookies.

Make fresh bread (e.g. baguette) and eat with European style butter


David Lebovitz is a fan of salted butter and has several recipes calling for it on his website.

Here are the results of typing “salted butter” in the search bar.


This is a recipe that David Lebovitz removed from his blog. For my taste, these caramels are perfect. I asked him why he removed the recipe from his blog; he responded that he’d received many complaints about the texture. When he posted the recipe, he said that cultured, salted butter was ideal for these caramels.


Salted. Salted always. Even for recipes that call for unsalted. Never had any complaints.


My partner is the baker of the couple and generally uses unsalted butter but buys salted for when the recipe particularly specifies it.

That said, we are a generally low salt house. We never use it when we cook nor do I add it to my food at the table (although herself does add a small amount to her plate).

And I can say the same thing about using unsalted butter exclusively. The only baking in which I use any salt is bread.

Enough about butter, it’s Friday so we should be discussing salted v. unsalted bourbon.


Like this one? Jeffersons Ocean Aged At Sea

Back on topic - I have been solely keeping unsalted butter in the house since a high blood pressure diagnosis a few years back. Just makes it a lot easier to control salt use in recipes. If I come across something that calls for salted (rare, as I don’t bake much), then I just add a pinch or so more. Seems to work just fine.


Salted, yes!

I honestly can’t recall, but I saw one recently (perhaps a Milk Street or ATK episode) which got me thinking about it.

Unsalted to cook with and cultured salted for spreading on hot crusty bread.


We’re a salted butter household as well. And I still add salt to whatever I’m cooking or baking.


I’ve gone back and forth over the years. I’d never heard of unsalted butter until I went to chef’s school in 74’ then it was all I used (snobbery). Now I keep both salted and unsalted in the house. Unsalted for cooking and baking and salted for the table.


I mainly buy and use unsalted butter too. I rarely just use butter on bread at home, so I don’t even miss the salt if I am making toast, English muffin or a bagel. When I’m feeling fancy or have guests, I might have salted butter in a tub but usually it goes bad before I finish it. I love my butter, but I just cook with it or add my own salt if needed.

1 Like