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I normally don't keep unsalted butter on hand since I use it so seldom. So when a recipe calls for salt and unsalted butter among its ingredients would it be alright to use salted butter and reduce the amount of salt? And if so, by how much should the salt be reduced? In other words, how much salt is typically contained in a tablespoon, ounce or gram of salted butter?

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I always go the opposite. I keep unsalted all the time and never by unsalted. You can always add salt but it's very difficult to take away. –  Brendan Feb 7 '13 at 19:37
unsalted butter doesn't keep long, and if I buy a pound I never manage to use it before it is bad. So I buy salted and try to adjust. –  Kate Gregory Feb 14 '13 at 21:54
@KateGregory, I don't think I use a particularly large amount of (unsalted) butter, but I've never had it go bad on me. If you're stocking up, put the extra packages in the freezer, but the opened package should be perfectly fine in the fridge, and we even keep a stick out at room temperature for spreading purposes. It's just too hard to tell how much salt your butter is adding; plus, there are times when you don't want to add any salt at all. –  Marti Feb 14 '13 at 22:25
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2 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Depending on brand, it is approximately 1 1/4 tsp per pound (US), or a little more than 1/4 tsp per stick (4 oz).

For most applications, yes it is fine to substitute and adjust; you can just adjust the "salt to taste" step of your recipe in many cases.

There are a very few uses (such as yeast raised dough) where you want to be more precise. I would not use salted butter for a yeast dough by preference, but if I had to, I would calculate the amount of salt to remove from the other ingredients based on this ratio:

1 1/4 tsp salt / 16 oz butter

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Thanks. That's just what I wanted to know. –  Don O'Donnell Feb 8 '13 at 7:15
Personally, I think that bread can always use more salt. –  Sobachatina Feb 14 '13 at 21:40
@Sobachatina Maybe, but it will inhibit the rise as so things are a balance :-) –  SAJ14SAJ Feb 14 '13 at 21:43
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According to the folks at America's Test Kitchen, the salt content in butter varies and may increase or decrease the amount of water in the butter. If you use unsalted butter, there are few if any variations. I've baked muffins and cookies with both salted and unsalted butter and personally prefer unsalted butter in baking but salted butter when adding to a finished dish (vegetables) or making things like grilled cheese.

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America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated is the only source I've seen for the claim about water content varying for salted butter (see cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/25014/…;, and nutrition facts contradict the claim. So as far as I can tell, it's just the salt that matters, and water is a non-issue here. –  Jefromi Feb 14 '13 at 19:24
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