Why do recipes specify unsalted butter and then call for salt?

Ask Peggy

Peggy Woodward, RD

DEAR PEGGY: Why do recipes specify unsalted butter and then call for salt? Why can't you just use salted butter? —M.C., Lacey, Washington

PEGGY:Good question! Butter manufacturers use different amounts of salt in their salted butter. Therefore, the amount of salt in your finished recipe can differ depending on the brand of butter you use. As a result, recipes sometimes call for unsalted butter and then add salt in order to standardize the amount in a recipe. Also, salt acts as a preservative in butter, so unsalted butter is sometimes fresher, which may give you a more desirable taste. In most cases, you can substitute salted for unsalted butter (omitting the added salt in the recipe) if you prefer it and are not concerned about the small discrepancy in taste.

 
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