Which Butter is Best for Baking Cakes

There are many things people pay attention to when baking a cake, such as mixing the ingredients and choosing the perfectly flavored frosting. But have you ever considered that the type of butter you’re using could significantly impact overall flavor?

It’s true. Different kinds of butter will alter your cake, so choosing the correct one is critical. For the most part, I recommend using unsalted butter so you have complete control of the recipe. Certain brands, like Land O Lakes’, Vital Farms, or Kerrygold Pure Irish, are recommended.

Hi! I’m Michelle, and I’ve been baking from home for the past ten years. I have tested and tried multiple ingredients throughout my baking journey to get the best flavor profile. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on which butter is best for baking cakes.

Let’s discuss butter!

Which Butter is Best for Baking Cakes?

There are a lot of different kinds of butter on the market. Choosing the one that’s right for your cake can seem daunting. In reality, any type of butter will work for your cake (note: I did not say margarine!).

However, knowing the difference in butter can take your cake to the next level. If you’re ready to say sayonara to your go-to butter pick, check out which butter I recommend for baking cakes.

Unsalted vs Salted

When you’re shopping through the grocery aisle, you’ll come across salted and unsalted butter. Well, unsalted butter takes the “cake” when baking cakes. (See how clever I am?)

Why? For one, unsalted butter contains no salt, which leaves you completely in charge of the ingredients. For example, a Butter Cake might call for ½ teaspoon while a Salted Caramel Cake calls for 1 ¼ teaspoon salt. If you used salted butter, you might end up with an overly salty cake.

Secondly, unsalted butter is fresher than salted. This is because salt is a preservative. While this helps salted butter last longer than unsalted, it also means that it might not be as fresh. That said, for the freshest buttery flavor possible, always go with unsalted.

Don’t panic if you have nothing but salted butter on hand. You can still achieve cake greatness. You will need to adjust the amount of salt added to the cake batter, though, to avoid salty mishaps.

Fat Content

Listen, I will not knock you down if you want to enjoy low-fat cake. Whether you’re trying to be healthier or have diet limitations, I understand why some people might need to go for low-fat options.

If you’re not concerned about the fat content, I recommend buying butter with high-fat content. Most American butter contains around 80%. This gets the job done, but it’s not as good as those with 83% or 85%.

The higher the fat content, the more delectable, light, and airy your cake will be. Needless to say, this is the desired result, which is guaranteed with a high-fat content type of butter.

Which Brand is Best for Cakes?

I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the brand you’re using. You should render fabulous cake results as long as it is an unsalted butter with high-fat content. However, if you need a little tug in the right direction, here are my top three suggestions.

Land O Lakes’

I can’t tell you how many people swear by this butter for baking. I have used it from time to time and enjoyed my results. 

Land O Lakes’ is an unsalted butter with 80% fat content and added cultured flavors. It has just the right amount of butter that won’t mask other ingredients while still providing that subtle hint of delightful butter. 

Land O Lakes’ drawback is that it isn’t creamy and smooth right out of the fridge. You will need to let this butter sit at room temperature to soften the butter before adding it to your cake batter.

Other than that, Land O Lakes is a solid choice. It’s convenient for those that want to use the same butter for everything, from mashed potatoes to pastries and pies.

Kerry Pure Irish

Everyone knows Kerry Pure Irish because of its distinct vibrant yellow hue. Why does it look like that, though? It’s all thanks to the way it’s made. Kerry Pure Irish is made with free-range, grass-fed milk. It also has an impressively high 85% fat content. 

Since Kerry Pure Irish is pure sweet cream, it’s always at a smooth consistency. This makes it a cinch to spread and add to batters, such as cake batter, without letting it sit at room temperature. 

Kerry Pure Irish has a bold and rich buttery flavor that works wonders in cakes. Remember that since it is so yellow, it might turn lighter-colored cakes yellowish. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. It will work well in these brightly colored, fun, and flavorful cake recipes.

Vital Farms

Another A+ option is Vital Farms. This 85% fat butter comes from entirely pasture-raised cows, naturally fed, and free-range. The feed is free from antibiotics and hormones, which ensures the cows (and customers) are only getting the best of the best.

Not only that, but this butter goes through a slower churning process than competitor kinds of butter. This produces a favorable flavor that’s perfect for all different types of cakes. Surprisingly, the rich butter flavor is still mellow enough not to mask other flavors entirely, which is excellent.


Now you know that unsalted butter with high-fat content is your best option for baking cakes. If you want to learn more about this topic, check out these frequently asked questions.

Can I use Lurpak butter for baking?

Yes, you can use Lurpak for baking (cakes or otherwise). This lactic culture butter is available in salted and unsalted. It has a smooth and buttery flavor that works well in cakes. 

What brands of butter are real butter?

You’re going to want to use real butter in your cake recipe. Some of the top brands include Land O Lakes’, Kerry Pure Irish, Vital Farms, Horizon Organic, Organic Valley Cultured, Lurpak, Tillamook, Challenge Dairy, and Cabot.

Is it OK to use spreadable butter for baking?

Most spreadable kinds of butter will not have the desired amount of fat for baking. That said, I would ditch the spreadable butter for baking (unless it has a fat content of over 80%). Truthfully, I would stick to sticks of butter that are unsalted with high-fat contents.

Will salted butter ruin cake?

Of course, not! However, you need to be careful to reduce the amount of salt listed in the recipe. Most of the time, reducing the salt by ¼ teaspoon is enough. You may need to do some trial and error depending on the recipe.

Final Words

Baking a cake is relatively simple, but choosing the right ingredients is critical for ultimate success. Pay attention to the type of butter you’re using. I suggest using unsalted butter so you have complete control of the flavor. Use high-fat content butter for rich flavors and fluffy textures.

What is your favorite type of butter to use in cakes? Share your top butter in the comment section so we can try it with our next cake!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Sharon

    Thanks so much for the tip on salted and unsalted butter.

  • Carolyn Lewis

    I have learned so much im happy I will use this information im my baking Thank you much