Food & Nutrition

7 Butter Hacks You Didn’t Know You Needed in Your Life

Everything tastes better with butter, but only if you use it correctly.

Grate frozen butter next time you bake

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When it comes to baking, cold or frozen butter is king. Why? Because when baking pie crusts, scones, biscuits, or any other kind of quick bread, you want a flaky, buttery outside, and the cold temperature of the butter is part of what helps achieve that in the oven—it has to do with the steam created by the butter while baking, which is what lifts up your crusts and bread for that perfect flaky goodness. The problem is that butter warms up REALLY quickly once you take it out of the freezer. Enter your regular old box cheese grater: Next time you’re baking, simply grate frozen butter into little shreds directly into the dough. You’ll find that it incorporates quickly and easily into the batter without having a chance to warm up. These are other baking mistakes you probably don’t realize you’re making.

Make a compound butter for an easy flavor upgrade

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If you’re trying to impress your company with a fancy meal, use up random ingredients before they go bad, or simply take your family dinner to another level, try making a compound butter spread, suggests chef Stefan Pickerel, flavor expert at The Spice & Tea Exchange. Compound butters are easy to throw together and instantly lend fresh, savory flavor to steak, fish, scones, pancakes, cornbread, waffles, chicken, or basically anything else you can think of. To make a compound butter, according to the Food Network, simply chop it into chunks and process it in a food processor with the ingredients of your choice, usually herbs, spices, cheese, citrus zest, or some combination thereof. Spoon it onto plastic wrap, roll it into a log, and chill before serving, or freeze for future use. Two of Pickerel’s favorite combinations are garlic pesto and raspberry and lavender butter (not as hard as it sounds!).

Always use unsalted butter

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If you’ve ever wondered whether it really matters what kind of butter you use, the answer is yes. Always use unsalted butter if possible, suggests chef Chris Nirschel of the New York Catering Service and former Food Network star. You can always add salt if needed, he says, but if you start with salted butter, especially if you’re baking something sweet, you could throw off the flavor profile. Plus, because different recipes call for different varieties of salt—kosher, Himalayan, table salt—it’s simply too easy for the salt in salted butter to overpower other flavors. (Here are signs you might be eating too much sodium.)

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