The 4 Best Butters To Buy for Every Situation

You voted on your favorites and we put the top 11 to the test to find the only ones worth buying.

Before going to culinary school, I barely used butter when cooking. But after a full year and mounds of mounds of butter in pastries and sauces, I quickly learned that not all butter is created equal. In Europe, where I went to school, butter is at least 82 percent butterfat, which is a result of churning the butter for longer to remove more water. Whereas butter in the U.S. has a lower minimum of 80 percent butterfat. But which is better and when do you use each?

You voted for which butter is your favorite to buy and it was a tight race. So we took the top 11 picks from our Community Choice Awards and put them to the test both in eating plain and using in baking. Here's what we found.

A variety of packages of butter scattered across a yellow background
Jesse Blanner/Allrecipes

How We Tested

To keep it as fair and unbiased as possible, each butter was tasted plain and also used to make pie dough. All butters were unsalted and room temperature when the tasters tried them, and tasting was completed blind, meaning the taster didn't know which butter was which when trying it. Each butter was judged on texture, flavor, color, and ease of use.

Best Budget Butter: Land o' Lakes

A box of Land O Lakes Butter
Jesse Blanner/Allrecipes

The Land o' Lakes butter was the lightest in color compared to the other butters but had a very pleasant, consistent, and mild taste that made it the best affordable everyday butter. After the labels were unveiled, several testers said they think they liked it because it tasted like their childhood, which would make sense since it's the most widely known of all the butter producers (and the winner of our Community Choice Awards!). I will say that the Kirkland Organic from Costco was a very close second but the nostalgia shone through for the Land o' Lakes, even with a blind tasting.

Best Butter for Standard Baking: Cabot

A box of Cabot Butter
Jesse Blanner/Allrecipes

I separated standard and specialty baking into two categories because if you're simply baking a quick bread or brownies in which case butter isn't the prominent flavor, it's not necessary to spend more money on a higher-fat butter. In those cases, Cabot is the best affordable and slightly more premium butter that's good for spreading on toast and ideal for elevating basic baked goods without breaking the bank.

Best Butter for Specialty Baking: Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter

A block of Kerrygold Butter
Jesse Blanner/Allrecipes

The higher fat percentage in European butters, like Kerrygold and Plugra, is ideal if you're working with pastries where the quality of your dough is directly effected by the quality of your butter. Both Kerrygold and Plugra scored high when making pie dough and had a luscious mouthfeel when tasted solo. But overall, the flavor and creaminess of Kerrygold won because of it's (very) slight grassy taste. Chalk it up to the grass-fed cows but the Kerrygold butter's golden hue even made the pie dough look more appealing.

Best Butter for Spreading: Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter

A box of Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter
Jesse Blanner/Allrecipes

I'll admit that I never use unsalted when spreading butter on bread so buying the unsalted version of the Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter was a first. But even unsalted, the additional flavor provided by culturing the milk prior to churning into butter is distinct. Much like yogurt is made, cultured butter is made when live bacteria is added to milk, then allowed to sit overnight to ferment and thicken. The resulting butter made from the cultured milk is complex, nutty, and tangy—but not so much that it overwhelms your bread. It doesn't hurt that this butter is also 82% butterfat, meaning it spreads on bread like a dream. Sprinkle a little salt on it before serving or grab the salted version for a real treat.

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