Many recipes call for a stick of butter and since butter can be found in multiple sizes, it can be very confusing to determine the exact quantity of butter.
How long is a stick of butter? On average a stick of butter is about 3.25 inches long and weighs about ½ a cup (110g). Please note that this is an average measurement that can vary depending on the brand. For the best experience, we recommend going by weight and using a kitchen scale for accurate measurement.
Read below to learn more about how to approximate a stick of butter and a few techniques that you can use to get the exact amount of butter every time!
Baking – An Exact Science?
When it comes to baking, a lot of times people tend to go with approximates instead of exact measurements. After all, a tablespoon of an ingredient can vary from one person to another.
How? Well, think about it, there are a lot of ways to interpret the requirement of a “tablespoon”.
First of all, a tablespoon can be a heap full of an ingredient like flour.
For example, if you were to measure a leveled tablespoon vs. a heap full, both will turn out to be vastly different in weight. In most cases, these small details might not matter that much.
Sure, the baked goods might turn out a bit chewier because of the added flour, but most of the time the difference will be negligible – which is why using approximate measurements is acceptable in baking.
So, does this mean that baking isn’t an exact science?
The answer depends on what you are baking and the circumstances.
For example, when you are baking a cake at home for your family, then you don’t always have to go with precise measurements as the cake will turn out just fine every time.
But for professionals and perfectionists that want an authentic and precisely baked cake, these small measurements will matter a lot.
Think about it in terms of bakeries that bake multiple types of cakes daily.
Bakeries require a level of standardization that is necessary so that every customer gets a product that is the same as the others in its category.
Failing to follow standard measurements may result in a lot of discrepancies which can cause customer disapproval.
However, in a home setting, these standards are rather relaxed and you can usually get away with eye-balling the measurements to quickly make baked food that is just as good.
Measuring a Stick of Butter
Now let’s talk about what it means when recipes call for a stick of butter.
In North America, butter is usually sold in ½ pound or 1-pound packs. Some packs may even include individually packed sticks.
This standardization makes it easy for people to use whole sticks of butter without getting the measurement wrong.
If you look closely at the packaging, you might also find lines along the packaging that denote a tablespoon measurement.
This way, if you don’t need a full stick of butter, then you can simply cut along the line on the packaging and use as much butter as you need.
As a general rule of thumb, always keep in mind that every stick of butter has about 8 tablespoons.
So, even if you partially use the stick, you can compensate for the missing butter by using the tablespoon markings on a new stick.
But if you use a brand that doesn’t provide measurement markings then it is best to always go by the weight of the stick.
A standard full stick of butter in the US weighs around 220g and in the case of split sticks, each stick in a pack will weigh 110g.
By going with the weight of the butter stick, you can easily use as much butter as you need without miscalculating the measurement.
Of course, for this method to work, you will need a reliable kitchen scale like this one.
Kitchen scales are extremely easy to use and they are quite affordable too.
Even if you end up using the scale only once for measuring butter, having it around can be a good thing since you can use it to measure virtually any ingredient.
Here is how you can effectively measure a stick of butter using the scale:
Step 1) Turn on the scale, set it to the required measurement (in grams), and put an empty bowl over the kitchen scale.
Step 2) When you get a reading of the weight of the empty bowl, press the “tare” button on the scale. The tare button resets the measurement of the scale while the bowl is on it. This is a useful feature that can be used to accurately measure food without deducting the weight of the empty bowl.
Step 3) Add the butter to the bowl and check how much it weighs. A full stick of butter which is usually required in most recipes weighs about 220g. But you can adjust the quantity as required.
Step 4) Take out the measured stick of butter in the scale and use it accordingly! You can repeat the steps for both tablespoon measurements and even melted butter.
Things to Keep in Mind
Here are some tips to get the most out of using sticks of butter in recipes:
- Using more butter in a recipe can cause it to have an altered texture and flavor. This is why you should always be careful about approximating the quantity of butter. We recommend sticking with the weight of the stick for measurement in recipes.
- Always go with refrigerated sticks of butter because they hold their shape better. When butter is at room temperature, it can begin to melt and can cause a lot of mess, especially when weighing.
- Once you get an idea about the measurement of a particular stick of butter, you can use the same brand every time without having to measure the stick again. Only use the weighing machine when you want to use smaller portions.
- If the recipe calls for a full stick of melted butter, then always use a fresh and whole stick instead of using leftovers. Adding additional butter to melted butter can be cumbersome and it’s much better (and easier) to use whole sticks.
- Don’t use a tablespoon to scoop butter off the stick. This can result in you getting either more or less butter. The ideal way is to cut the butter using a knife along the measuring lines on the packaging. If the packaging doesn’t have measuring lines, then divide the stick into eight equal parts. This way, each part will be equal to a tablespoon.
- Always carefully read the recipe to figure out how much butter you will need. For example, if the recipe calls for a quarter stick of butter, then you will have to divide 220g by 1/4th, which is equal to 55g. Since a tablespoon is equal to 21g, you will need 2.5 tablespoons of butter.
- Some manufacturers use different shapes and sizes for butter. If you come across a brand that has an unusually longer stick with a narrow body, then we recommend that you check the weight of the stick. If it is equal to 220g, then you can use it like any regular stick of butter.
The term “a stick of butter” can be confusing when it comes to baking or cooking, but by relying on a few measurement techniques, you can use butter without getting the measurement wrong!
Now that you know how long a stick of butter is, here are some related questions:
Can you cut a stick from a large block of butter?
Yes, if you know the total weight of the block then you can easily cut a stick of butter from it.
The ideal way to go about this would be to divide the butter into multiple equal sections.
For example, if the block of butter is 500g, then you can cut it into 4 pieces, each will weigh about 100g.
Since you need 110g for a stick of butter, you can use one 100g piece and cut a bit of butter to cover up the remaining 10g. We recommend using a weighing machine for the best experience.
What happens when you use less butter?
Using less butter is only going to be a problem if you completely get the measurement wrong.
If you need 110g but end up using 80g, then this may cause an impact on the quality of your food, the same can be said about using more butter too.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that when you are baking or cooking food using butter at home, then you don’t have to be very precise. A
measurement of 100g or 120g of butter is acceptable since such a small change will have no impact on the quality of the food.
How do I change the texture of a stick of melted butter?
If the recipe calls for soft butter, then you can change the consistency of melted butter by dropping in a few ice cubes in the bowl.
Make sure that the butter isn’t hot when using this method. Stir the mixture for a minute or until the consistency of the butter is soft!