Here's How Many Sticks Of Butter Go Into One Cup

When a recipe calls for adding butter, you will typically see it measured by the number of tablespoons or cups needed, but if you have sticks of butter, you may be confused. How exactly do you measure a cup of butter if your butter is in a solid stick? Luckily, most butter sticks are individually wrapped in wax papers and they will have measurement markings on the wrapper. If your butter papers don't have those markings, though, you can still easily measure out your sticks into cups and tablespoons.

Each stick of butter is typically a 1/2 cup, so there are two sticks of butter in one cup. A half cup breaks down to 8 tablespoons, so there would be 16 tablespoons in two sticks of butter. If a recipe calls for 1/4 a cup of butter, you would need to use half a stick of butter, which is equal to four tablespoons. The best way to add sticks of butter to your recipe will depend on the recipe's instructions, but butter should be at room temperature before using it for cooking or baking, as this will help it mix more easily.

Using sticks of butter in a recipe

You may think that you can just melt the butter to measure it, but that might not work for every recipe. In general, melted butter and softened butter are not interchangeable, since butter's consistency can affect the texture of the final product. Softened butter is room-temperature butter that has been left to sit out until it is soft, but not melted. It is typically used in baking recipes, where it is creamed together with sugar to create a light and fluffy texture. All you have to do to use softened butter sticks is set them on the kitchen counter to let them come to room temperature. Then, use the number of sticks you need in the recipe. 

Melted butter, on the other hand, is typically used in recipes where a liquid fat is needed, such as in sauces or marinades. To get melted butter, you can warm the number of sticks you need in a saucepan on low on the stove, or you can place them in a microwave-safe bowl and warm them in 30-second intervals until they are fully melted. Then, pour the melted butter into your recipe. 

Why is butter sold in sticks?

Believe it or not, butter is often sold in sticks as a convenient way to measure it for recipes, and the idea came from a restaurant owner. For hundreds of years, butter was sold one pound at a time, so the box it came in was sized accordingly. That changed, though, when a restaurateur in New Orleans asked his butter supplier, Swift and Company, for butter measured out in 1/4 pound sticks. He was a well-known buyer, so the butter company made it happen for him. It didn't take long for other people to take note of these conveniently measured smaller sticks and they quickly became popular. 

Butter sticks are individually wrapped in paper or foil, which also aids in measuring, but the wrapper has other functions, too. It protects the butter from drying out or from picking up odors or flavors from other foods in the refrigerator. This ensures that you get perfect butter every time.