If you’re baking cookies and wondering if you can use salted butter for cookies because that’s all you have, then read on for the answer and some serious butter stats (yes, I said butter stats).
Cookie recipes often call for unsalted butter, but both unsalted and salted butter are sold in stores.
When home bakers go to reach for the butter and realize that theirs is salted instead of unsalted, panic strikes!
“Can I use salted butter in cookies?” they wonder. “Is it going to make everything taste like I’m licking a salt cube?”
The answer is no, you’re not going to make everything taste like a salt cube if you follow my instructions.
And yes, you can use salted butter for cookies, but it’s best to decrease or leave out the amount of extra salt the recipe calls for.
Plenty of people on the internet will tell you that it’s “best to stick to unsalted butter” for baking, and while that is technically true, I promise you that 99% of the time, your cookies are going to be just fine even if you accidentally reach for the salted butter instead of the unsalted.
For more information on substituting ingredients in cookies, check out our guide on fixing problems in cookies here.
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Salted Butter vs Unsalted Butter
Why are there even two types of butter?
Let’s compare the two to make sure we’re all on the same page, because there actually are a few differences besides just the salt content.
|Unsalted Butter||Salted Butter|
|Has no salt added||Has about 1/4-1/3 tsp salt per stick|
|Shorter shelf life||Longer shelf life|
|Taste is fresh, mellow||Taste is sharper, saltier|
As you can see from the table above, the added salt into salted butter means that it has a longer shelf life and a bit of a sharper taste than the mellow sweetness of unsalted butter.
Salted butter is used in plenty of things, and works great as a spread for breads or cooked into dishes that have a saltier, sharper taste.
Must-Have Baking Tools (seriously)
- Silicone baking mats – I use this brand and my cookies slide right off without burning!
- a cookie scoop – get this one. It makes the perfect rounded cookies every time!
- silicone spatula – try this set. It’s the best way to get the most out of your dough and batters
- rolling pin guides – I use this one. Genius way to roll your dough out evenly!
Why Do Cookie Recipes (Usually) Use Unsalted Butter?
Cookie recipes and baking recipes in particularly usually call for unsalted butter.
This can be confusing when they then tell you to add salt at another part of the recipe!
The reasoning is that it gives you more control over the amount of salt that goes into your baking.
Obviously, the end goal for much of our cookie recipes is to end up with a sweet, not salty, treat.
By telling you to use unsalted butter in your recipe and then add 1/4 salt, the recipe creator is trying to help everyone, no matter where you are in the world, get the same results.
If they tell you to use salted butter, the amount of salt could vary per butter stick or brand and it’s harder to keep track of how much salt you really did add in the butter and if you need more or less on top of that.
How to Use Salted Butter in Your Cookies
If all you have is salted butter on hand, fear not. You have two options for using salted butter in your cookies.
Firstly, you can just substitute it and make no further changes to your recipe.
Yes, I know.
But some people have never even looked at their packet of butter to see if it’s salted or unsalted and they’re doing just fine.
You may end up with a slightly saltier taste, but it’s usually not going to ruin a batch.
Secondly, if you’re not wanting to throw your baking caution to the wind but do want to use salted butter, simply decrease the amount of extra salt you add by about 1/4 of a teaspoon.
If you’re only supposed to add an extra 1/4 teaspoon or under, then just eliminate the extra salt completely.
There are some baking substitutions that are going to really ruin your day (ie, if you don’t have flour, good luck), but for those wondering if you can use unsalted butter in cookies instead of salted butter, then don’t worry, you’ll be just fine with a few tweaks!