How to Freeze and Thaw Butter

Frozen butter lasts months past its best-by date. Here’s what you need to know. 

Though refrigerated butter has a relatively long shelf life, it can last months past its sell-by date in the freezer. Luckily, it's an ingredient that freezes exceptionally well — here's everything you need to know about freezing and thawing butter:

How Long Does Butter Last?

Butter Close Up
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It depends on how it's stored. Packaged butter kept in the refrigerator will stay good for about one to three months. At room temperature, covered butter will start to lose quality after a few days. You can keep butter in the freezer for about a year.

Can You Freeze Butter?

Yes! You can freeze butter in its original packaging with no noticeable quality decline. It's important to note that this only applies only to butter with at least 80 percent milkfat. You can technically freeze spreadable butters (the kinds in the tubs that contain more oil and water), but they won't last as long. Also, if you're freezing spreadable butter, you'll probably need to transfer it from the plastic tub to a freezer-safe container.

How to Freeze Butter

Four sticks of salted butter isolated on white
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Keep the butter in the cardboard container it came in so that you'll have easy access to the sell-by date — it'll come in handy a year from now when you're trying to remember how long ago you froze it. Just put the box into a freezer-safe bag or wrap it in aluminum foil, then toss it in the fridge. If you've already thrown out the packaging, wrap each stick individually in foil and place them into a freezer-safe bag labeled with the date.

If you use butter regularly, it may be worth cutting it into tablespoon-sized pieces before freezing. This way, you won't have to thaw and refreeze a whole stick every time you just need a square. Just be sure to wrap each chunk in foil before stowing them away in a freezer-safe bag.

How to Thaw Butter

Directly Above Shot Of Butter And Knife On Wooden Table
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If your recipe calls for melted butter, there's no need to thaw — just melt it from its frozen state in the microwave or on the stove.

But what if you need cold or softened butter for your pie crust or cookies? Easily thaw it by transferring it from the freezer to the fridge the night before you plan to use it. If you're short on time, you can thaw butter more quickly by grating it with a cheese grater or microplane. Give the grated butter a few minutes to fully thaw and you should be good to go.

How to Use Frozen Butter

a lattice-topped apple pie with a flaky-looking golden brown crust

It's OK to use frozen butter in some recipes. In fact, certain ones can actually benefit from it. For instance, flaky pie crusts: As the cold butter melts during the baking process, the steam creates deliciously light layers. To make this top-rated Butter Flaky Pie Crust, simply grate frozen butter directly into the flour mixture and combine with your fingertips.


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