Free Range Butter

Salted vs. Unsalted Butter

By Nellie's Kindness Crew


You may have found yourself wondering: What's the difference between salted and unsalted butter? Which one should I use for baking, sautéing, or spreading on toast? As you might have already guessed, there's only one key difference between the two: salted butter contains added salt, while unsalted butter does not. Despite this simple distinction, there are certain benefits to each type of butter and specific uses that one is better suited for than the other.

Benefits of unsalted butter

Unsalted is the simplest form of butter, and unsalted butter has the shortest ingredient list on the butter shelf, typically containing nothing more than sweet cream or pasteurized cream (and in some cases, natural flavoring). When it's not masked by salt, the flavor of sweet cream really shines through. Using unsalted butter also gives you complete control over the amount of salt in your recipe, making it a great option for those who are watching their sodium intake.

When to use unsalted butter

Some recipes specifically call for unsalted butter, but for those that simply list "butter" in the ingredients list, you can assume that unsalted butter is the best option. When cooking, it's easier to add than remove. For example, when sautéing veggies, you can always adjust the salt content to your taste, but it's not possible to remove the salt. In other words, starting with unsalted butter as a baseline never hurts. Unsalted butter is also a great option for recipes that are finished with flaky sea salt or kosher salt, which can easily become oversalted if made with salted butter.

Baking with unsalted butter

Most baked goods and sweets—especially bread—should be made with unsalted butter, even if the recipe simply calls for "butter." Exceptions include nutty treats such as peanut butter cookies that pair nicely with a little extra salt.

Benefits of salted butter

The biggest benefit of using salted butter is heightened flavor. Salt is a natural flavor enhancer, and brings out all the nuances of butter itself while balancing the sweeter notes. Similarly, salt is a natural preservative, and extends the shelf life of butter fairly significantly (typically an extra 30 days). In certain recipes, using salted butter negates the need to season with additional salt. In others, however, it's important to get into the habit of tasting for seasoning and adjusting to your preferences.

When to use salted butter

If a recipe requires salted butter, it will almost always call for it specifically. When used as a spread on toast, to top off pancakes or waffles, to finish corn on the cob, or to brush over bread that's hot out of the oven, salted butter is a great option. There are varying levels of salt in salted butters (typically 1-2% by weight or about 1/4 teaspoon per stick), but the salt level doesn't correspond to the quality of the butter.

How to substitute salted for unsalted butter (and vice versa)

Technically speaking, you can substitute salted butter for unsalted butter (and vice versa) in most recipes, with bread being the only exception because salt slows the rising process. To use salted in place of unsalted, simply cut any added salt that the recipe calls for in half. If that recipe uses a 1/4 teaspoon or less of salt, simply leave the added salt out completely. This still doesn't guarantee a balanced level of salt, so taste for seasoning and adjust when you can. Here's a good rule of thumb to following when pivoting between the two types of butter:

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter = 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter + 1/4 teaspoon of salt

No matter which type you choose you're in for a rich, buttery meal!


LinaFebruary 13, 2023

I purchased your unsalted butter for the first time. I am happy I tried your product the taste was amazing. I usually buy grass fed butter. Thank you for this great pure product. I will be purchasing your butter from now on. My fussy Family loved your butter as well.we are very fussy about what we put in our bodies. ( no hormones & no Antibiotics).


Hi Lina! We are happy to hear that you are enjoying our grass-fed butter!

Hiromi WienerFebruary 13, 2023

I loved your butter very much. It was so flavorful. There is no other butter which matches the flavor. I cannot find your butter anywhere in Boulder, Colorado. I bought the butter in Whole Foods on Pearl Street. Will they carry if I request them?


Hi Hiromi, We are happy to hear that you love our butter! Thanks for choosing our small family farms!

Lisa LawrenceOctober 04, 2022

I love your butter? I was brought up on a farm & the taste brings back memories!


Hi Lisa, thank you for sharing this memory with us. We take pride in making products that remind people of their family farm experiences.

GinAugust 15, 2022

Good info


Thank you, Gin!

dianne hebertOctober 29, 2021



You're very welcome, Dianne!

LindaOctober 23, 2021

Thanks! I learned some things about unsalted butter that I did not know before!


We're happy to have shared some info with you, Linda! Enjoy!

Adele LapointeOctober 18, 2021

That was very helpful. I always wondered what the difference was when baking. Thank you.


We're so glad to have shared some knowledge with you, happy baking!

Sherrie LamplotSeptember 09, 2021

What store sells this butter.


Thanks for asking, Sherrie! You can check out the product locator to find our butter near you. You can find it here:

Amber PueblaMay 21, 2021

I purchase both salted and unsalted and once open, I can't tell which is indication on wrapper!


Thank you for your feedback, Amber! You've got a great point, and we'll pass this along to the team!

DianeJuly 13, 2020

Can I use the butter Proof of Purchase for any of the promo's?


Hi Diane! Absolutely! We look forward to receiving your barcodes soon!

cookie slusarczykFebruary 08, 2020

Thanks for the lesson in butter where can I find the nellies butter? Can hardly wait to try it.


Hi there! We're so happy to hear you're excited about our butter! Our butter will be available at Stop and Shop, Ingles, Hannaford, and Price Chopper starting this month. If you’re interested in sharing your request with your local store, we encourage you to ask the dairy manager at any and all locations where you do your grocery shopping to reach out to us. We can't wait for you to try our butter soon!

William TamisoFebruary 07, 2020

How about a coupon for your butter.


Hi William! We encourage you to check out our Promotions page here on our website where we list all our currently available promotions! We're still working out some of the details with our butter coupons, but our Buy 10 Get 1 promotion is allowed to count towards a butter or egg coupon. We hope this helps!

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