How to Bring Butter and Eggs to Room Temperature

by Jamie on August 31, 2011

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The easiest way to get your baking ingredients to room temperature is to simply allow them to sit at – room temperature. That’s pretty much a no-brainer, right? But this method usually means that you have a bit of a plan in place. If I know that I am going to baking early in the morning, I always take my items out of the fridge and allow them to sit on the counter overnight.

However, if you’re at all like me, sometimes ya just get the urge to bake something without a plan in place. I often find myself in this situation and it can be a real bummer if the recipe you’re using calls for room temperature items such as butter, eggs, and cream cheese. But no worries, I’ve got ya covered – so the next time you find yourself staring at ice cold butter and eggs, you’ll know exactly what to do to get those items to room temp in no time!

I usually bake with room temperature eggs because they seem to disperse much better through batters when they aren’t fresh out of the fridge. Typically if the recipe calls for room temperature butter, it’s a good idea to use room temperature eggs.

How to Bring Eggs to Room Temperature

Place eggs in a bowl and cover them with warm (not hot) tap water. Allow the eggs to sit in the water for about 5 minutes or until they are no longer cool to the touch.

How to Bring Butter to Room Temperature

The Microwave Method

If you bake a lot, I’m betting you’ve attempted to soften butter in the microwave, right? I know some microwaves have a fancy schmancy feature that allows you to soften butter at the press of a button, but unfortunately, my microwave is not rocking that feature. Softening butter in the microwave can can be tricky because if you get distracted you’ll end up with a pool of butter instead of a beautifully softened stick.

Ya know you’ve done it – and I’ll attest to the fact that cleaning up melted butter from the inside of the microwave is a pain in the booty. After some trial and error, I’ve pretty much perfected my microwave softening technique, here’s what I do:

1.) Place stick(s) of butter on a microwave safe plate. Leave the paper wrapper on.
2.) Place the plate into the microwave and heat on high power for 5 seconds. Open microwave give the stick 1/4 turn (meaning, pick it up and flip it over onto its side) and heat again for 5 seconds. Do this on all four long sides of the stick(s) of butter. Typically after about 20-25 seconds my butter is perfect. This time will vary depending on your microwave – simply watch it closely and keep flipping it. The flipping action will help the butter to evenly soften.

The Cube Method

If you have a little bit of time on your hands, you can cut the stick(s) of butter into fourths and then cube into small pieces. The smaller the cubes, the quicker the butter will soften. Just leave them at room temperature for about an hour or until soft to the touch.

The Grating Method

I always have a lot of butter on hand and when it’s on sale I stock up and store it in the freezer. But sometimes I forget to move some to the fridge when I’m running low, and then find myself with pounds pounds of only frozen butter. The easiest way to bring frozen butter to room temperature to take out your handy box grater and grate the butter into a bowl.

Within no time, your butter will be soft and ready to be added to your favorite recipe. This grating method also works wonders when a recipe calls for frozen butter such as scones and pie doughs.

And there you have it, my not so technical methods of bringing ingredients to room temperature on the fly. I hope it helps you out the next time you feel the urge to bake up a batch of cookies in a hurry!

Notes

The Microwave and Cube Methods will also work for cream cheese. If you use the microwave method, be sure to unwrap the cream cheese before placing it into the microwave.

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Katrina October 6, 2011 at 10:10 pm

OMG! Thank you. I have baking ADD where all of a sudden I will have a strong urge to bake and have not planned ahead so this is great.

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avatar Margaret S. October 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I’d like to tell you about my microwave butter method. I like it better because it doesn’t involve stopping and turning the butter every 10 seconds: Turn the power down to 20% or 30%. Microwave the butter about 1 minute (for 1 stick). You can go off and do something else during that minute. Check if it’s ready, if not give it another 30 seconds or 1 minute (depending on how close to soft it already is).

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avatar Jamie October 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Thanks, Margaret! I’ll give this a shot.
-Jamie

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avatar suzyhomemaker October 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Just found your website and I love your tips. I always forget to take things out of the fridge. My solution to the butter dilemma is that I have it sitting out on the counter all the time. I always have at least one stick in my butter dish. I know for some it might not work depending on the climate, but for me it works well. The only bad part is if there is only half a stick because we used it for toast, or if you need more.

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avatar Heidi October 14, 2011 at 12:20 am

I just tried melting butter in my microwave and hit 3 minutes intend of 30 seconds. Needless to say, I have a big butter mess all over my microwave. My tip for the day…make sure you don’t hitnthe zero button one too many times!

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avatar Christine October 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm

I know what you mean …. I have done that before. Sounds crazy but it is so easy to do.

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avatar Christine October 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm

If I need softened butter I meausre it out cut into pieces and then put it on a plate and just leave it on my stove under the extractor unit lights. Sometimes I put it closer to the light on a container of some sort. In a couple of hours it is the perfect consistency of room temp. butter to incorporate into the recipe. I find this works great.

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avatar Kelly Brown January 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for the great tips! I am so excited that I found you blog! Very helpful! I have LOVED baking for a few years now but just recently I have gotten serious with it. I have also started to blog a couple recipes as well. I still don’t know all the basics of baking so I was excited to read your posts on the fundamentals! Thanks!

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avatar D.K January 9, 2012 at 11:33 pm

I’ve recently become obsessed with baking and very interested in all the small details and intricacies involved in producing the perfect treat. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the chemistry behind different flours, measuring flour, and room temperature ingredients. From what I read, you should use room temperature eggs in everything baked. The reason is that eggs, and the sugar in them help promote gluten formation within the flour. When they are at room temperature, for some reason, the gluten formations are more abundant. The more gluten formations, the more stable the product and it will get a better rise. Pretty interesting how much chemistry is involved with baked goods!

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avatar Thirza January 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

I usually use the defrost setting on the microwave rather than the ‘normal’ setting to soften butter: 15-20 seconds is usually enough!

(Only just found your blog during work lunch break, will come back over the weekend!)

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avatar ButtonsH March 5, 2012 at 11:12 am

I usually put the butter out and cut up into cubes on a plate and put it on my stove and switch on the lights in the hood. It gets all the butter to room temperature really well. If I need it quicker I put the butter plate on top of some kind of container so it is closer to the light and softens up faster. This seems to be the best method for me and I use it all the time. But I have to tell my husband not to turn off the light as he thinks I just forgot to do so. Ahhhh men…. they have no idea.

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avatar Lauren March 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm

SO helpful! Thanks! I never plan enough in advance to let them sit out on their own. I usually do the mocrowave trick (I do have a “softener” button), but since I am a novice-ish baker, I’m not exactly sure what is “room temperature” and what is “softened.” My OCD likes that you told me exactly how long on each side. Thanks again!

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avatar Robyn December 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

Awesome tips, thanks so much for sharing them with us :-)

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avatar Serena December 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm

It’s not dangerous to leave eggs sit out to room temperature? I’m just scared of salmonella and the like (but I will eat raw cookie dough, go figure!) thanks for the tips!

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avatar Wendy Lu Hardy March 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

I’ve been an avid baker for 40 years–mostly cookies, brownies, and cakes. I stay away from pies & don’t have much time for baking bread (unless I use a bread machine). Just came across this website & it’s great! I ALWAYS try to have my baking ingredients at room temperature, especially the eggs & butter (or margarine). It makes such a difference when mixing the dough or batter. I try to plan ahead of time, I do my baking in the morning before work or in the evening when I get home. If I want to make something in the a.m., I take the butter & eggs out before bed. If I plan on baking when I get home, I pull everything out before leaving for work. If the urge strikes me to make something & I’m not prepared, I soften the butter in my microwave (50% power for 1-1.30 min) while keeping a close eye on it. Margarine seems to melt faster than butter. I soften cream cheese the same way. I used to hesitate about letting eggs come to room temperature until I visited New Zealand in 2006 & was shocked to see cartons of eggs in the grocery stores just sitting in the aisles, not even refrigerated. No one seemed to be dying of food poisoning over this. Quite a surprise. Glad to see there’s other people out there who love to bake as much as I do–I find it very relaxing & everyone goes crazy over what I make. I have a tiny, one-wall kitchen with hardly any counter space & no dishwasher, so whenever I make anything I destroy the whole kitchen. My oven also cooks 50 degrees higher than what any recipe calls for. That’s why oven themometers are so important. It’s a challange for me to get anything made at all but I don’t care.

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avatar Crystal May 7, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Thank you for sharing the thoughtful & insightful tips. I love baking cookies and this will help me out a lot.

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avatar lulu November 27, 2013 at 9:37 am

Jamie, could you tell me the tips with milk in room temperature? I have a recipe that I would like to try and one of the ingredients is milk in room temperature. If I need it out of the fridge, how long before I start cooking? Thank you…

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avatar Jamie January 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Lulu, I would say you need to take milk out of the fridge at least half an hour before you need it to get it to room temperature.
- Jamie

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avatar Angela M January 2, 2014 at 3:13 pm

If you’re planning on heating the butter in its wrapping, make sure the wrapping isn’t coated with aluminum — mine just set fire in the microwave!

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