How Many Calories Are In a Pat of Butter, Anyway?
We've all unwrapped those foil packets of butter—also known as pats—in restaurants and lavishly spread them over a biscuit or roll. But is a pat of butter a good serving size? How many calories are in a pat of butter? We investigate.
Growing up, I thought the height of luxury was a restaurant’s basket of freshly sliced bread, and the accompanying foil packets of butter softening over a candle. I’d go through one or two (or three) of the packets, and who knows how many pieces of bread, while waiting for my entree. Sometimes, I’d wonder…how many calories in a pat of butter? I had no idea. Intrigued, I investigated and fell down a bit of an Internet rabbit hole. Here’s what I found.
What Is a Pat of Butter?
Generally, a pat of butter is a single portion of butter, typically served up in a foil packet, tiny plastic tub, or artfully molded and shaped into a ball or square.
How Much Butter is in a Pat?
There’s no uniform size or quantity of butter provided in a pat. Most pats, however, contain between 1/3 and 1/2 tablespoons of butter. (That’s about 1 to 1.5 teaspoons.) If you wanted to make your own pats—to serve at a dinner party, say—a good size is 1″x1″ square, and about 1/3″ thick. If your recipe calls for a “pat,” that generally means it’s a flexible measurement, and you can add to taste.
So, How Many Calories Are in a Pat of Butter?
- 1 teaspoon of butter is about 34 calories
- 1.5 teaspoons is 51 calories
Generally, pats will be on the small side of that spectrum.
Why Is It Called a “Pat”?
Restaurants used to press butter into wooden molds to press it into unique shapes, like flowers, before serving on a plate with bread. The cook would “pat” the butter into the mold, and the name stuck. (Fun fact: grocery stores used to sell butter from a large bulk block, which was commonly pressed with a decorative design. Molded butter was also a popular tabletop decoration for many holidays.)