How To Easily Freeze Butter (Can You?)

There’s this big sale of butter in your local supermarket, and you’re thinking about stocking up. You know how many sticks your household goes through in a month, but you’re wondering if you can buy even more and freeze the rest.

The short and simple answer is yes, butter freezes perfectly fine, so go ahead and buy as many sticks as your freezer can hold. Once you get home, all you need to do is a couple of minutes to organize those sticks in the freezer, and that’s about it. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of freezing butter.

Sliced bread and butter
(credit: Jude Infantini)

Can You Freeze Butter?

Butter has one of the longer shelf lives among dairy products. And since most of us use it regularly, we’re pretty much never worried about it going bad. In most cases, when we think about freezing this dairy product, we want to take advantage of lower prices. And, fortunately for our wallets, butter freezes just fine.

Butter is one of the few dairy products that even the manufacturers agree you can freeze with little to no ill effects (LL, OV).

Freezing and thawing don’t change the texture or taste of the sandwich spread much. The only mild inconvenience is that it takes a bit longer for frozen butter to soften. But if need be, you can work around that too — more on that in the thawing section below.

How To Freeze Butter

Warning

If the quality of your butter has already degraded due to long storage, freezing won’t migically fix it. It’s best to freeze fresh butter that at its peak quality.

Freezing butter is super simple and doesn’t require any fancy tools. Some freezer bags, and perhaps aluminum foil, is all you need. Let’s get down to business.

  1. Consider portioning the product. It’s best to finish a thawed stick of butter within 30 days (LL). That means if you have a giant stick to freeze, portioning it into a couple of smaller ones might make sense. Same thing if you don’t have much space in the freezer, and it’s easier to fit compact ones in there.
  2. Wrap the butter. If you leave the sticks as-is, there’s usually no need for any additional wrapping. But if you portion them, the packaging they come in is often not enough. If that’s the case, use aluminum foil. Also, if you plan on freezing the butter for a long time, consider putting the sticks in freezer bags. That extra layer will help prevent freezer burn from setting in.
  3. Chuck everything in the freezer. Add labels with names and dates if you like.

How Long Can You Freeze Butter?

There’s isn’t one set period for which you can keep butter in the freezer. Some manufacturers say it will retain good quality for up to four months (LL), while others say theirs keep up for a year (OV).

What’s sure is that the quality of the product will gradually degrade. It might lose some of its fresh taste, or perhaps pick up odors if it’s not wrapped tightly (LL). But for those effects to kick in, it requires months, and the changes will be only slight. If you use the butter within half a year to maybe eight months, it should be perfectly fine.

Plate with muffins and butter

How To Thaw Frozen Butter

When it comes to defrosting butter, there are a couple of options.

The most popular one is to put it in the fridge in the evening. This way, it’ll be ready in the morning

If you’re running against the clock, and waiting for those 8 hours is not an option, there are other ways. If you’re making sandwiches, cut a couple of slices and set them aside. They should become spreadable within 10 minutes at room temperature.

Another options is to cut a larger portion and defrost it in the microwave. Remember to use the defrost mode, or run it on low power setting, and microwave the butter in short increments.

Tip

If all you have is a couple of minutes, grate the butter on large holes of a box grater (LL). Those tiny pieces will become spreadable in mere minutes.

Last but not least, if you’re using butter for anything done on the stove, like a stir fry, or scrambled eggs, there’s no need for thawing. Add the butter frozen, and it will melt in no time.

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