I find it easier to just rub the stick of butter onto a hot pan to grease the pan instead of cutting off a piece and putting it in.

However this would heat up some of the butter on the stick. Would this have any adverse effects?

  • No idea from the food safety standpoint -- but that's how we always did it growing up. (for pancakes, grilled cheese, etc.)
    – Joe
    Jan 22, 2016 at 20:34
  • 3
    One commonly used trick with butters and margarines packaged in paper/foil is to use the paper from a spent package, or a piece torn off the currently open package, as a spreading tool. Jan 22, 2016 at 23:36
  • In my house, most ingredients let alone butter don't have a chance to spoil because I am always cooking. Being bitter I am wondering if this is really a serious concern. 1 lb of butter lasts a week at most round here.
    – Escoce
    Jan 23, 2016 at 1:58
  • Take half a stick of butter, remove about 1/4" of the paper, wrap that end in aluminum foil and stick the butter in the freezer. When needed, remove the foil, rub the butter in the hot skillet for maybe 3 seconds, replace the foil and put back in the freezer for the next time. Apr 16, 2017 at 23:56

1 Answer 1


It would depend on how quickly you use the butter, how thoroughly the pan was cleaned, and how long the pan was stored between uses/washes, and how clean your hands were when rubbing the butter in the pan. The more contaminates you introduce the butter and the longer you store it, the more likely the butter will spoil.

Refrigerated butter is good for about a month after the sell-by date. Generally, butter that has been handled loses half its shelf life or more (generally succumbing to mould infestation).

If your hands and pan are clean, the risk is greatly reduced. Despite this, I find handled butter's shelf life is much lower than sealed butter (1-2 weeks versus 3-4).

  • If the pan is hot already, I think contamination risk would be low... and I don't take the wrapper off the end I'm touching, so there's no contamination from fingers, generally.
    – Catija
    Jan 23, 2016 at 1:32
  • Mostly it's the touching with your hands (I think), though any food in the pan could be transferred. Anecdotally, butter that has been handled in any way spoils significantly faster, even in the fridge (based on the kitchens I've worked in). Jan 26, 2016 at 23:30
  • Another factor, besides how long it will spoil, is what else might you be using butter for. When we would butter a pan (or toast, for that matter) by rubbing the stick against the surface, it was not unusual to pick up some fine crumbs or carbonized flakes on the surface of the butter - not a problem if you're using it the same way next time, less useful if the next bit of butter you wanted was something where those crumbs would be visible (still safe, just unsightly).
    – Megha
    Apr 17, 2017 at 5:46

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