Is Salted or Unsalted Butter Best for Baking?

Ask the TeamTips

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

P.S. Have a question you’d like answered? Email us at [email protected]

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Megan Gordon

Megan Gordon is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Simply Recipes. She's the author of Whole Grain Mornings and her blog, A Sweet Spoonful, focuses on healthy seasonal cooking and baking.

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No ImageIs Salted or Unsalted Butter Best for Baking?

  1. Levi Armstrong

    You made a good point when you said that it would be better to use unsalted butter when baking to adjust the salt levels yourself. My sister and I plan to learn how to bake together. We plan to go grocery shopping for supplies this weekend, so I’ll make sure we get unsalted butter. Thanks!

  2. a

    Salted butter keeps longer than unsalted, and with people shopping less frequently now and buying more food for storage, I think salted is the way to go.

  3. A.

    I used to only use unsalted butter when baking, but all you need to taste once is rancid unsalted butter. Now I only use salted butter and totally omit any other salt amount from the recipe. I’m not a big salt user, and I’ve never had a problem with a recipe being too salty. I might think twice about baking with unsalted for a really fine and delicate cake or pastry.

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  4. Gina

    I have always wondered why a lot of chef’s don’t specify between the two. So now i’m going to assume that they mean unsalted, well, for baking at least.

  5. Karl Kaucher

    I too have used salted butter since I started cooking. Almost every recipe I use calls for unsalted butter, then adds salt. Where’s the logic in that?

    No thanks, I’ll continue to use salted butter.

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Is Salted or Unsalted Butter Best for Baking?