What Does Butter Do in Baking?

What Does Butter Do In Baking?

Last Updated on October 24, 2021

Butter is a staple ingredient in many desserts. From brownies, cookies, cakes, frostings, pastries, biscuits, and more, butter is key to a delicious dessert. Since so many baked goods call for it, you may have wondered, what does butter do in baking?

Many bakers will always have butter on hand as it gives desserts a rich flavor and delicious texture. It is one of the most common baking ingredients and is an important aspect of many recipes.

What Does Butter Do In Baking?

Butter works as a fat in baking, while also helping with leavening, structure, flakiness, and moisture. It also provides a decadent flavor that gives desserts their delicious flavor.

Since butter is a solid fat, it is often the best option out of any fat products when baking. It creates moist cakes, creamy frostings, flaky pastries, and soft biscuits.

What Does Butter Do in Baking - Solid Fat


Butter provides a rich, delicious flavor in baked goods. It is an important ingredient to the overall taste of desserts. In addition, it makes cakes and cookies moist, which enhances the flavor and texture.

Delicate Crumb

Fats slow down the formation of gluten which creates a tender crumb. When combined with flour, butter creates a barrier between protein and water. This is why bread made with butter, such as brioche and cinnamon rolls, is richer than baguettes and sandwich bread.


Since butter is a solid fat, it helps baked goods rise. Creaming butter and sugar incorporates air into the mixture and provides a lift while baking. In addition, butter contains water and when evaporated it creates flaky pastries and pie crusts.

Unsalted Vs Salted Butter

When shopping at the grocery store, you will see salted and unsalted butter sold right next to each other. Most bakers prefer to use unsalted butter when baking, as this allows you to control the exact salt content.

Unsalted Vs Salted Butter

Different brands add different amounts of salt to butter. This can make it difficult to know how much salt you are adding to your recipe. In baking, too much salt can have a negative impact on the taste of the final product.

Sticking to unsalted butter is generally the best option when baking. This allows you to add the exact amount of salt the recipe calls for, resulting in a better-tasting final product. Though salted butter can be great for cooking, stick with unsalted butter when baking.

Using Room Temperature Butter Vs Melted Butter

The temperature of the butter plays an important role when baking. In most cases, you will use room temperature butter or melted butter. However, for biscuits, pies, and pastries, you will use cold butter.

The temperature of butter affects how it interacts with the other ingredients, playing an important role in the texture of the baked good. Almost every recipe will specify if your butter should be room temperature, cold, or melted.

Room temperature butter is softened so it can easily cream together with sugar. It creates an even distribution of fat in the baked good which results in a tender texture.

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Recipes that call for melted butter rely on butter for taste but not structure. It can result in flavorful, chewy cookies. Pancakes, waffles, and brownies will often call for melted butter to provide a delicious flavor.

Cold butter is used when you don’t want the butter to combine with the other ingredients in the recipe. This results in a delicious flaky texture with distinct layers, which is found in pastries, pie crusts, and biscuits.

Using Butter Vs Oil In Baking

Another common fat used in baking is oil. Vegetable oil and canola oil are common oils that can be used as fat. Butter is considered to be a solid fat and oil is considered to be a liquid fat.

Oil isn’t relied on as a leavening agent, but it often provides a denser texture. In addition, it adds a more neutral flavor. There are benefits of using butter and oil as fat in baked goods. It is best to stick with what the recipe calls for, as they serve slightly different purposes,  to get the best tasting dessert.

A Baking Staple

Butter is an ingredient that all bakers almost always have on hand. It provides flavor, texture, structure, and in some cases leavening in baking. Depending on the temperature of the butter, it will serve different purposes than what it does in a recipe.

Do you have any questions on what butter does in baking? If so, please ask your questions and share your thoughts in the comments down below.

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