With butter prices going up regularly, we always look for a good deal on this yummy staple. It’s tempting to buy a whole bunch of butter sticks when we find a great deal, but will we use all of it before it goes bad? Butter’s shelf life is usually 3 to 4 months and even though it will most likely be fine to eat for longer, it doesn’t keep quality forever.
That’s why freezing butter is more popular these days than it ever was. What’s even better is that it freezes well. The freezing process requires little to no effort and the butter can stay in the freezer for half a year or even more. Even butter producers like Organic Valley (OV) or LandOLakes (LL) say that their butter can be frozen.
Interested in freezing butter? Read on.
How to Freeze Butter?
Freezing butter is as easy as it gets. Just place the butter stick (or sticks) into the freezer and that’s it. No need to re-wrap the butter sticks, the original packaging is fine to use.
But if you are planning to keep the butter in the freezer for longer than a few months, consider adding an additional layer to prevent freezer burn. That additional layer could be a freezer bag or wrapping the stick in aluminum foil. I go with the former, as the bags are reusable.
If defrosting a single stick of butter at a time is too much for you, cut the stick into several slices before freezing. Wrap each slice in aluminum foil and it’s ready to be transferred to the freezer. Again, for a longer freezing time, put the wrapped slice into a freezer bag.
You can easily freeze bread too.
How Long Can You Freeze Butter?
As it’s often the case with freezing food, the answer depends on whom you ask. Organic Valley says that both their salted and unsalted butter keeps best quality for up to a year (OV). LandOLakes, on the other hand, says the freezing time is up to 4 months (LL). What gives?
One thing that’s sure is the longer you freeze the butter, the worse quality you should expect. There’s no set point that after 4 (or 8) months in the freezer this dairy product will be perfectly fine, but its quality will turn bad a week later.
The process is gradual, and it’s impossible to tell at which point the quality of butter won’t be good enough for eating. Partially because choosing if the product is good enough or not is also a matter of personal preference.
If your butter sits in the freezer for months on end and there are signs of freezer burn setting in, consider using it only for recipes that require melting. In such recipes the slightly worse quality of the butter shouldn’t make that much of a difference. We do the same for many other dairy products such as brie or cottage cheese.
How to Defrost Frozen Butter?
You can defrost frozen butter in a number of ways:
- Overnight in the fridge. This is the recommended method. Just transfer the stick from the freezer to the fridge the night before you need it. It will be defrosted and ready to use in the morning.
- Use a grater. Grating frozen butter is something most people wouldn’t think of, but it works beautifully. Grate (using the large holes) as much butter as you need and leave it at room temperature. It will defrost in a few minutes.
- Cold water bath. If you need the butter thawed as soon as possible, transfer the stick into a freezer bag and submerge it in lukewarm water. The outer layer will defrost quite quickly, so if you need some butter for your sandwiches, this is a great method.
- Throw it in frozen. If you’re using butter in a cooked recipe or you need melted butter, you can often add it in frozen. It will defrost and melt quickly.
- Melt on the stove. Perfect for baking recipes where you often you need that butter melted either way.
- Microwave it. Remove the butter from all of its wrapping and microwave in short time increments (10-15 seconds). Flip the sides after each increment. Microwave until the butter is soft but not melted.
Worried that microwaving isn’t safe? Check out our FAQ.
- OV Organic Valley: Can You Freeze Butter For Extended Shelf Life?
- LL LandOLakes: Can You Freeze Butter?
About the Author
Marcin is the managing editor of CanYouFreezeThis.com. He is making sure all the freezing info on this page is accurate and the posts easy to digest and use.