Forget leaving out the stick overnight when you can have soft butter in 10 minutes.

November 02, 2018
Credit: James Ross/Getty Images

This story originally appeared on by Jennifer Kushnier.

Holiday baking season is quickly approaching, and most of those cookie recipes require softened or room temperature butter in order to get a light, tender crumb.

Some sources say you can accomplish this in an hour in a warm kitchen. Ina Garten prefers to leave her sticks out overnight. Others give guidance on how to successfully microwave it—but I find the potential meltability to be too risky.

More often than not, I forget to leave butter out altogether. But in the time it takes for me to pull together all the ingredients I need for cookies, I can have perfectly softened butter. That is to say, in about 10 minutes. Here's how:

Pour tepid water (about 90°F) into a bowl and add as many sticks of butter as you need. (Anything more than 1 pound, however, will cool the water too dramatically and will take longer to soften.) The sticks are already wrapped tightly enough that the water won't seep in; in fact, they'll float. Leave them alone for 10 minutes, turning them over from time to time.

In the end, you'll have butter that's ready to be dumped into a mixing bowl, where it will be transformed into something magical. Bonus: This trick works for cold cream cheese in the foil wrapper and cold eggs. Happy baking!