How Much Salt to Add to Unsalted Butter?

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Oh dear, you are dreaming of making that special dish that grandma used to make with creamy, salted butter, but you accidentally bought unsalted butter—now what? 

Is unsalted butter and salted butter even the same, and can you simply add a good shake of salt from the table salt jar to salt that unsalted butter block? 

I have all the answers and guides on how to salt unsalted butter right here, plus a bonus on what to do when you have added salted butter to an unsalted butter recipe. 

There are a few options to consider when using unsalted butter instead of salted butter and how to up the salt factor in your recipe. You can use a quarter of a teaspoon of salt to cream into a stick of butter, or you can simply add enough salt to the ingredients to produce enough saltiness. Choose a finely ground salt to produce enough salty taste.  

Salt is an important ingredient to any meal, and butter adds something special, so combining the two is a kitchen staple that no discerning cook can go without. 

Let’s learn how to add salt to unsalted butter for the perfect culinary companion. 

What Is Unsalted Butter?

During the process of making butter, salt is added to flavor the butter. Butter, also known as churned fat, is produced from full-cream milk and is an animal fat that is used to fry foods, act as a smearing agent, and add flavor to baked goods. 

Usually, when making butter, the milk is separated into cream and whey, with the cream further churned to produce fat or butter. 

Unsalted butter is the pure butter that is produced in these steps. Salted butter is the next step, where salt is added to the creamed butter to ensure a longer shelf life and to complement the flavor. 

However, unsalted butter is the preference of many chefs, and those are baking connoisseurs as it’s difficult to know exactly how much salt is added to salted butter. 

Can You Add Salt to Unsalted Butter?

Yes, you can add salt to unsalted butter, but it’s easier to adjust your recipe requirements to include salt if no salt was added. You can also add salt to the unsalted butter by churning and adding the salt throughout the process. 

Unsalted butter is considered superior to salted butter as it has a creamier taste. However, salted butter lasts longer in the freezer. 

How to Make Unsalted Butter Salted

So if you are using a stick of butter (half a cup of butter), and you need salted butter but are using unsalted butter instead, simply add a quarter teaspoon of salt to the recipe. 

Likewise, if you want to salt your unsalted butter and keep it in the refrigerator until next time, you can churn the butter until well mixed, then add the salt in small quantities until the same ratio of salt to butter is achieved. 

Top tip: Soften the butter to room temperature before churning and adding salt as this will ensure a more even distribution.

Unsalted Butter Recipe

Ingredients and Equipment: 

  • One pint of whole-fat milk (the top layer only) or heavy cream (cow’s milk is usually the choice to go with)
  • A food processor with stainless steel bowl
  • Glass butter tray for storage 
  • Stainless steel jug 


  1. Blend the full-cream milk top layer or heavy cream until it’s reached the stiff peak stage, then blend it some more until it begins to separate as solids and liquid.
  2. Remove the liquid (which is yummy buttermilk and can be used for making cornbread or Southern biscuits later) by pouring it into the jug.
  3. Wash the butter in ice water and massage with your hands to remove all remaining buttermilk (which prevents spoiling). 
  4. Pack the fresh butter into the butter tray or another suitable container. Use before the butter turns rancid and keep it in the refrigerator. Or freeze for as many as 12 months.

How many salts Do You Add to Unsalted Butter per Tablespoon?

Since half a cup of butter is the same as eight tablespoons of butter, and you would use a quarter teaspoon of salt in half a cup of butter, it follows that you require an eighth of a quarter teaspoon of salt. 

In simple terms, a teaspoon of salt is 16 pinches, so a quarter teaspoon is 4 pinches of salt. 

Four pinches divided by 8 tablespoons is half a pinch of salt per tablespoon of butter. So, to salt one tablespoon of unsalted butter, you would add only half a pinch of salt. 

Can You Use Salted Butter Instead of Unsalted Butter?

In most recipes, you can use salted and unsalted butter interchangeably, but if you are making a sweet treat, then salted butter will change the flavor profile slightly. 

As a safety precaution, if your recipe calls for unsalted butter and you only have salted butter, then leave any additional salt out of the recipe. 

Remember, even a tablespoon of salted butter can contain as much as a pinch of salt, it will definitely be a pinch too much if your recipe already has its own salt as an ingredient. 

My Last Foodie Thoughts 

There are so many ways to use unsalted butter, and you can substitute salted butter for unsalted butter and vice versa. 

When making your own butter, it’s important to remove any buttermilk from the butter with thorough and repeated washing in ice water. 

Once your butter is ready, you can add it to a blender with the appropriate amount of salt to make salted butter – a quarter teaspoon per half cup of butter. 

Salted butter will last longer in the refrigerator, but both salted and unsalted butter can be frozen for as much as a year! Talk about a long shelf life. 

When salting a recipe that calls for salted butter and you don’t have any salted butter, you can add the salt to the ingredient list, if the recipe doesn’t already have salt. 

Use the same ratio as for making salted butter, so add a half pinch of salt for one tablespoon of unsalted butter. 

Happy buttering!

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