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Can You Bake Banana Bread with Salted Butter?

There are all sorts of experiments just waiting to happen in the kitchen, but some aren’t so planned. Say you don’t have any unsalted butter, but you do have salted butter in the fridge. Would you dare substitute it in your favorite banana bread recipe?

Bakers can make banana bread with salted butter or unsalted butter. If a recipe calls for unsalted butter, substitute it with salted butter and reduce the quantity of added salt. Reduce the amount of added salt to the recipe by up to 1/3 teaspoon per stick of salted butter.

Banana bread is so versatile in baking that it’s one of the harder dishes to mess up. Even so, the usual culprits for not-amazing results are wrong baking times and/or the wrong amount of salt. The smell of fresh, moist, creamy, nutty-smelling banana bread is amazing to the right nose. But having thought of all those flavors, does the butter and salt play a significant role in the outcome? Well, spoiler: yes. But let’s dive into it.

Image of sliced banana bread with butter on a white plate

So, Can We Bake Banana Bread with Salted Butter?

This topic can be quite debatable; it depends on the butter you have on hand and your salt sensitivity; you can get both extremes where with some people, salt is a must on each dish or where you use salt every so often to reach the right flavors. It’s a good idea to start with less and add more as you go; you even get a Salted Caramel Banana Bread Recipe.

Butter being a solid fat is mostly suited for baking than any other fat product. In particular, butter adds flavor with a melting point just below body temperature, which is why some baked goods and cookies “melt in your mouth” in addition to leavening and adding moisture, which is a must for the perfect Banana Bread.

Benefits of Using Salted Butter to Make Banana Bread

Most households using butter in their daily cooking opt for salted butter. Salt acts as a preservative, and because of this, salty butter has a longer shelf life than unsalted butter. In my household, I’ll always have a stash of salted butter blocks in the fridge. When the urge to make banana bread arises, butter is not the issue.

Although there are other options to using butter in baking banana bread, butter is creamy, and its decadent taste makes for a dessert you won’t easily forget.

Unsalted butter is sometimes fresher than salted butter; however, you should always check that the butter hasn’t gone rancid as the butter will discolor and smell a little. Baking banana bread with rancid butter will make you sick. You can check it by slicing it in the middle. The outside will be darker than the inside.

Unsalted butter lasts about a month in the refrigerator, whereas salted butter can last up to six months if kept in the fridge, on a counter, or in a cupboard.

Besides having a longer shelf life, salted butter is also cheaper than unsalted butter, making it better value for money.

If you’re still unsure, smell the butter; the nose doesn’t lie.

Salted Butter vs. Unsalted Butter, Does it Matter?

When it comes to cooking and baking, do you know which butter to use when? Let’s look at the difference between the two and the recommended usage.

I bet you have already guessed the main difference; both are made of the same Grade AA quality butter. However, the salted butter has salt added; it’s as simple as that, but there are reasons why the recipe has recommended that particular butter for that preferred recipe. While considering your options, you may want to choose one over the other, so here is more information to help you decide.

Unsalted Butter

In general, most bakers prefer to use unsalted. Unsalted butter gives the baker pleasure of having control of the overall flavor of the recipe. You will find this is specifically important in certain baking goods where the sweet, pure, creamy taste of butter is key, as in pound cakes or butter cookies. It’s the same as cooking, and unsalted butter allows for your food’s authentic, natural flavor to present itself.

Have you noticed that some recipes will emphasize using unsalted butter and then tell you to add salt? This way, you have the sweet, creamy taste with the power to add as much salt to alter the flavor as per your liking.

Salted Butter

A teaspoon of butter only has 4 grams of fat and adds excellent flavor. Salted butter is a good all-rounder for bread, pasta, topping veggies, and baking if you are not looking for the control of adding in the amount of salt yourself. Have you ever tried adding a tad salted butter to your morning oatmeal? It will indeed be a treat compared to the bland cereal, you know.

If you’re using French salted butter, then don’t add any additional salt to the recipe.

Why Do Some Banana Bread Recipes Call for Unsalted Butter – and then Add Salt?

In general, it depends on the person who made the recipe – and what their preferences were. Here are some other reasons.

  • Sometimes, salted butter doesn’t taste as fresh as unsalted, and it may be difficult to predict how salty the loaf will taste.
  • By using unsalted butter, it’s easier to add the amount of salt called for.
  • With so many different makes of butter out there, it isn’t easy to know what you’re buying.
  • American salted butter contains about ¼ tsp of salt per stick of butter weighing 115 g or 4oz, but French butter is super salty.

What Happens if I Add Too Much Salted Butter to Banana Bread?

When you add too much salt (via salted butter) to banana bread, here’s what happens.

  • Banana bread loses some of its banana flavors.
  • It’s heavier than it should be.
  • The taste of salt is more prevalent but not unpleasant.
  • The outside of the loaf is dryer but still moist inside.

Usually, the culprit to “too much” salt in banana bread that used salted butter is this: the cook forgot to account for the salt in the butter – and added the regular amount of salt called for in the recipe.

Should my Salted Butter Be at Room Temperature When I Make Banana Bread?

Yes, for the best results possible, your butter should be at room temperature. Getting it there will depend on the weather and how cool your kitchen is.

  • For butter to get to room temperature, it needs to sit out on the counter for about one to two hours.
  • If it doesn’t, and you use the butter before it’s soft, it won’t mix well with the recipe’ sugar. Your loaf won’t hold air and will be denser and not as light and airy as it could be.
  • If you use warm or melted butter and not room-temperature butter, the loaf will also not hold air, and the banana loaf will be flat. 

How Can I Soften Salted Butter Quickly without Melting It?

Cut the butter you need into blocks or slices, and place it on a small plate.

  • Pour water into a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Microwave the water for two to three minutes till boiling.
  • Carefully remove the water from the microwave.
  • Place the cut butter into the microwave and close the door.
  • The radiant heat from the microwave will soften the butter within ten minutes.

Storing Banana Bread Made with Salted Butter

Place the unused banana bread in an airtight bag or container.

  • It can keep for up to four days on your counter before you’ll notice any change in the bread texture.
  • If the banana bread is kept in the fridge, it will last for a week and still be delicious.
  • If you freeze banana bread, it can last up to four months.

How to freeze banana bread made with salted butter

When freezing banana bread, you can freeze slices, half-loaves, or whole loaves. Wrap the banana bread in foil and place them in a zip-lock bag. Remove as much air from the bag as you can.

How to thaw frozen banana bread made with salted butter

Defrosting banana bread is not rocket science. Take the slices or loaves out of the freezer bags, set them on a cutting board with a piece of towel, and allow them to defrost for anywhere between thirty minutes and two hours.

image of banana bread with walnuts and chocolates and mint

Other FAQ’s about Bread Made with Salted Butter

Let’s make sure you don’t have any other questions about baking banana bread with salted butter. Here are some other commonly asked questions – or questions I’ve looked up myself.

Will using salted butter retard the yeast in my loaf recipe?

It all boils down to balance. Salt does retard yeast growth, and if too much is used, it can kill the yeast entirely. Salt, other than the flavor it brings, controls yeast growth, resulting in the loaf crumb being even and balanced.

However, in the case of banana bread, if you adhere to the ‘salt swap out rule’ — for every stick of salted butter you use, reduce salt required by1/4 teaspoon — this won’t happen.

Will using salted butter retard the baking soda in my loaf recipe?

As with yeast, baking soda is a raising agent and is an integral part of getting the loaf to rise. What applies to the use of yeast in regards to salt also applies to baking soda.

Baking soda does, however, work best with an acidic ingredient. In banana bread, this could be buttermilk, sugar, or the bananas themselves.

Is it better to use oil or salted butter in banana bread?

To date, I’ve found 3865 banana bread recipes on the internet, all advocating the use of salted butter.

However, the texture of banana bread made with oil usually is superior. The loaf tends to rise better, have more crumb, and stays moist a lot longer. But loaves made with butter often taste better than those made with oil.

So remember these guidelines to cooking with oil versus salted butter.

  • There is no definitive answer.
  • All the choices, whether to use salted or unsalted butter in making banana bread, are subjective.
  • What works for you works.

A personal preference is to use half salted butter and half oil. In this way, I get the best of both worlds. 

Is my salted butter banana bread cooked?

Banana bread will rise and crack down its center when cooking. Test if it’s done by putting a toothpick into the crack. If a few crumbs stick to the toothpick and they’re not wet-looking, then great, it’s done.

Final Thoughts on Using Salted Butter to Make Banana Bread

Ideally, any butter you are using is good butter. As to which butter, salted or unsalted, it will depend on preference and availability.

As we’ve seen, when making banana bread with salted butter, there are a few pros & cons. First, look at the recipe. Some recipes call for salted butter, while others use unsalted butter. Depending on the recipe you use, you’ll need to watch how much salt you add no matter which type of butter you use.

If you’re a stickler for authentic ingredients, and your recipe calls for unsalted butter, then, by all means, use unsalted butter and add the salt needed.

Having cooked and baked for over forty years, I’ve found many salted butter recipes that work just fine when making banana bread. But again, the choice is yours. Happy baking, and may that banana loaf of yours be delectably yummy.

Cite this article as: “Can You Bake Banana Bread with Salted Butter?” Backyard Homestead HQ, 28 April 2021, backyardhomesteadhq.com/can-you-bake-banana-bread-with-salted-butter/.

Resources

It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders.

  • “The Function of Butter in Baking.” Baker Bettie, 18 Aug. 2020, bakerbettie.com/function-of-butter-in-baking/.
  • Landolakes.com. www.landolakes.com/expert-advice/salted-or-unsalted-which-butter-should-i-use-when/.
  • Williams, Corey. “How to Store Banana Bread So It Stays Fresh.” MyRecipes, www.myrecipes.com/how-to/how-to-store-banana-bread.
  • Woolf, Vespa. “Moist Banana Bread Recipe With 4 Easy Tips – Delishably – Food and Drink.” Delishably, 31 Dec. 2012, delishably.com/baked-goods/Recipe-for-Banana-Bread.