What Does Room Temperature Butter Mean (and Why Is It Crucial)

Part of my Baking Basicsseries: Learn about the many butter temps you may encounter in recipes, what room temperature butter really means, how to get it properly, and why butter temperature is so important in baking.

You’ll encounter recipes that ask for room temperature butter all the time, but do you actually understand what that means? If not, you’ve come to the correct spot! Let’s get this thing started.

What room temperature butter really means

Room-temperature butter is not always warm; in fact, it is likely to be cooler than the surrounding environment. It will still be cold to the touch and should be approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18C).

Why the right butter temperature matters in baking

Your butter’s temperature and consistency may make or break your dish. No, it absolutely can.

If you’ve ever prepared cookies and had them spread all over the baking pan to produce one gigantic mutant cookie, it’s because the butter was too warm and fluid.

If you’ve ever baked a cake and found it thick when you expected it to be fluffy, the butter was probably too soft.

You’ll note that I often use room-temperature butter and eggs in my recipes. This is because room-temperature components mix easier than cold ones.

Cold components have a difficult difficulty emulsifying, resulting in inconsistent and unappealing outcomes.

Butter is a solid fat that can contain air, and the act of creaming butter and sugar holds that air. Thus, when you make a cake, the trapped air expands while it bakes, giving you that soft and fluffy cake you like.

Different butter temperatures


  • Temperature: about 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2C)
  • It is often used in pie recipes. As you cut cooled butter cubes into the dry ingredients for the crust, it creates a lovely flaky crust.


  • Temperature: 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18C)
  • Application: This ingredient is often found in cake recipes as well as various cookies. Its texture is soft enough to be creamed with sugar, yet solid enough to include the proper quantity of air while mixing.

Melted and Cooled

  • Temperature: 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29C)
  • Frequently used in brownie and bar recipes, as well as various cookies. It may assist produce a beautiful, cracked crust to brownies and lend itself to chewy cookies when added to brownies. When using melted butter in cookie recipes, keep in mind that the dough must be chilled before baking to avoid overspreading.

How to bring butter to room temperature

The time-tested technique for bringing butter to room temperature: Let the butter to settle on the counter for 1-2 hours before using it. The time it takes will be determined by how warm your kitchen is.

But you can’t always plan that far ahead, can you? To rapidly get butter to temperature, I fill a glass halfway with boiling water, let it rest for 10 seconds, then drain out the water and place it upside down over a stick of butter on a plate.

After a few minutes, you may remove the glass and discover softened butter!

To test the temperature of your butter, push a clean finger into the top of the butter. Your finger should produce an impression but not glide right through to the other side.

To be really honest, I never take the temperature of my butter. But if you’re new to baking and still trying to figure it out, insert a thermometer in the center of the stick of butter to get a sense for what it should look and feel like.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have a cat that really wants the butter you’re working with, here’s a perfect example of one such cat being denied the golden deliciousness he craves:

I hope this was helpful! Is there anything more I should have spoken regarding this topic? Please let me know in the comments section below.

More Baking Basics

How to Measure Ingredients Correctly

The Importance of Room Temperature Butter

5 Baking Steps You Should Never Skip

Common Baking Ingredients’ Shelf Life


Why is it important for butter to be at room temperature?

“Room temperature butter may contain air,” adds Szewczyk. “By creaming, you may mechanically force air into it.” Warm butter is unable to cling onto it, resulting in a denser dough.” Cookies may struggle to lift and lighten when using heated or melted butter, resulting in a cakier texture, similar to brownies.

What happens when you don’t use room temperature butter?

Cold butter straight from the fridge will not cream correctly, resulting in lumps of cold, hard butter in your cookie dough (not to mention the toll this takes on your stand mixer).

What is room temperature for butter?

The commonly recognized temperature range for a room is 68°-72°F. When pushed into room temperature butter, it will retain an impression of your finger (rather than sinking right through).

What happens if you use cold butter instead of room temperature?

Cold components do not combine to form an emulsion. Period. As a consequence, clumpy icing, chunky cheesecake, thick cake, flat breads, and greasy muffins are produced. It’s actually number one on my list of my top ten baking tips: if a recipe asks for room temperature butter, use room temperature butter.

What is the meaning of room temperature?

noun: a temperature ranging from 59° to 77°F (15° to 25°C) that is appropriate for human occupation and at which laboratory tests are often conducted.

How long should butter sit out to soften?

How long does it take for butter to soften? Allowing cold butter to soften at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before using allows it to soften. The same method works with frozen butter, however it may take a few hours.

What is the difference between softened and room temperature butter?

For example, if you push your finger into a firm stick of butter, it will not leave an imprint or oil your fingers. Yet, very soft butter is warmer than room temperature. As a result, your finger will make a larger depression in the butter and will be coated.

Can you put room temperature butter back in the fridge?

“If the butter has just been on the counter at room temperature for a few hours or overnight and has maintained a temperature below 70°F, it should be good to refrigerate,” Ryan explains.

Why is it important to use room temperature butter and not cold butter when making sponge?

If you put cold butter in your batter, it will not spread as evenly as room temperature butter, and hence will not effectively coat flour proteins or allow for the input of air pockets during the beating process.

Is room temperature butter better?

Room temperature butter is vital because room temperature components mix and homogenize the best at room temperature, resulting in a uniformly textured bake (like this batter for Spiced Pear Cake with Brown Butter Frosting).

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