The Reason Butter Tastes So Much Better At Restaurants

When it comes to certain food items it always seems like the restaurant version can't be beat. You've probably encountered that all too common struggle where you have food in your fridge that should be cooked but you know that it won't taste nearly as good as ordering something out.

The truth is, there might actually be a reason why things like butter taste so much better when they don't come from your fridge. Beyond the fact that most restaurants make their sauces and spreads from scratch, the way butter is stored can also play a huge role in how it tastes, which is one of the many butter hacks you'll wish you knew sooner.

While most people tend to store butter in the fridge out of habit, leaving it out as restaurants do allows the texture to become soft and spreadable. According to Claudia Sidoti, a Hello Fresh chef who spoke with Eat This, Not That, butter also actually tastes better when it's left in a "room temperature environment." She went on to explain the taste benefits of non-refrigerated butter, noting that the flavor profile of specific ingredients like milk fat is enhanced when the butter is not cold.

On the other hand, certain diners have been known to mix their butter with margarine to enhance that buttery flavor. This not only keeps the butter spreadable after refrigeration but can also have a better texture when melted, depending on the dish it's served with.

Why butter can be left out at room temperature

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that salted butter actually doesn't need to go in the fridge and can be left out at room temperature as long as it's made from milk that has been pasteurized. The reason has to do with the bacteria that are killed during the heating process of pasteurization and the molecular structure of butter itself that restricts bacterial growth. While leaving butter out can cause it to spoil faster, most restaurants go through it so quickly that they don't have to worry about this factor. 

Since salt is often used as a preservative, unsalted butter also has a faster rate of going bad when left out at room temperature. However, many restaurants choose this option because it gives them more power over the flavor profile of their butter and whatever dishes they mix it with. Therefore, they can consistently serve fresh, homemade butter with that smooth texture that enhances its flavor. Restaurant butter can also taste savory because some places take the time to culture or ferment it. 

How to get the flavor of restaurant-style butter at home

There has been a huge push on social media for people to start consuming raw butter, which is butter made from cream that has never been pasteurized. However, the FDA strongly discourages any form of raw milk consumption due to the risk of pathogens and serious illness. Therefore, in order for restaurants to be able to leave their butter out at room temperature, it needs to be pasteurized. If you are craving restaurant-style butter at home, skip the raw butter and look for pasture-raised, grass-fed butter that's salted for the best flavor. Or, better yet, buy some organic cream and try making your own butter from scratch! 

To make your own version of restaurant-style butter, you can simply blend the cream at a high speed until the butter pieces separate from the liquid. Then press the butter into a container, straining off any of that excess buttermilk. The nice part about making your own butter is that it's fresh and tastes like the quality of a restaurant. You also have the freedom to season it however you'd like. For a classic butter taste, you can opt for a sprinkling of sea salt or you can get fancy and drizzle it with sweet honey.