Is Salted or Unsalted Butter Best for Baking?

Salted vs unsalted butter: When it comes to baking, what's the best? Does it really make a big difference which you use? Here's what we have to say!

READER QUESTION: I almost always use salted butter instead of unsalted when I bake, and then I cut down on the salt used in the recipe. I'm usually happy with how things turn out, but I'm wondering -- is there a good reason for me to switch to the unsalted?

Thank you for such a great question! I know a lot of folks get confused when choosing butter for a recipe. Many recipes call for unsalted but lately, I'm seeing more and more recipes using salted butter and ... well, how to decide?!

The simple answer is I do think unsalted is typically the best choice, and here's why:

  1. It's true that more recipes than not call for unsalted butter and until you've made something a few times, why go off script right out of the gate?
  2. It's much, much easier to taste your dough and add a little extra salt if need be but you can't take it away. So I think it's a sanity-saver to use unsalted and adjust the salt levels if necessary.
  3. Different brands of butter contain different amounts of salt; if you use unsalted butter and add your own salt, then you'll get more consistent results.

As for as how the recipe will actually turn out, either choice is just fine! Your cakes will rise just the same and your scones will be equally flaky — it's more an issue of flavor.

I hope that helps, and I hope you're all enjoying spending more time at home baking. Judging from comments on our banana bread and homemade pizza posts, we think that's the case!

-Megan Gordon, Marketing Director and lover of all baked goods

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