Do You Really Have To Refrigerate Butter?

You know how difficult it can be to grab a stick of butter from the fridge and then actually try to use it on fresh bread or rolls. It's hard — literally. You either have to warm the butter up first, or hope that your fresh-from-the-oven rolls will soften it for you. Otherwise, you will likely tear your bread up as you struggle to spread the butter. 

But does butter really need to be refrigerated? It is a dairy product, which makes us think that refrigeration is necessary — but if not? It's going to be way easier to use. The answer, though, isn't 100 percent clear-cut — you can leave it out, but there are a few things to keep in mind for ultimate safety, and you might just decide that it's safer to just keep it in the fridge after all.

DairyGood reports that butter can be left out sometimes, but you can't just toss it on your counter and forget about it for a week. There are also different rules about this depending on what type of butter you have — salted or unsalted. 

For salted butter is less likely to go bad than unsalted varieties. However, keep in mind that the more salt your butter has, the more staying-on-the-counter power it has, so look for salted butter with more salt if you want to leave it out. Regardless, you shouldn't leave it out for more than a couple of days, even if it's super salty. 

If you prefer unsalted butter, DairyGood explains that it's best to just pop it in the fridge and not leave it out at room temperature.

Aside from the kind of butter you use, the temperature of the room has a lot to do with its safety. If the room goes up to 70 degrees or above, don't leave either butter out. 

As these things typically go, though, not everyone is in agreement on the issue of storing butter at room temperature. BuzzFeed interviewed a spokesperson from the FDA who said that it's simply too risky to store butter on the counter as that can increase the chances it will become rancid, which means it tastes disgusting. They also point out that refrigeration "reduces the growth rates of spoilage microbes which might be present.

When it comes to food safety, erring on the side of caution is usually not a bad idea. The good news is, though, that butter warms up fairly quickly when cut into smaller pieces, so even if you forget to take it out of the fridge before breakfast, all you need to do is shave off a few thin slices and let it sit on the edge of your plate. Your butter should be soft and ready by the time your toast pops up.