To Salt or not To Salt...
December 21, 2019 12:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm making this Sweet Potato Casserole for Christmas dinner next week. The recipe doesn't specify whether to use salted or unsalted butter. (I'm able to buy either). What do you think?
posted by cozenedindigo to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The recipe already calls for salt so I would go with unsalted butter if I had it. I wouldn't make a trip to specifically get unsalted butter for the recipe though.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:00 PM on December 21, 2019

With only half a teaspoon of salt for 4 cups of sweet potato, I’m pretty darn sure that recipe is underseasoned.

That said, salted butter to unsalted butter is just a conversion of 1/4 tsp per stick of butter. So, you could equivalently get salted butter or add 1/8 tsp for the 4 tablespoons of butter.

I’d use unsalted butter, then use more like a teaspoon of salt instead of half a teaspoon.
posted by saeculorum at 1:02 PM on December 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I think of salted as the default. If you're dubious, you could always add everything but the salt and taste it before putting it in the pan, and adjust accordingly.
posted by kate4914 at 1:06 PM on December 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Even if it's meant to be sweet, a little extra salt is great with sweet, so I'd use salted.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 1:07 PM on December 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

For such a small volume of butter relative to the sweet potatoes, I don’t think it really matters.

Personally, if I wasn’t going to be doing any other baking, I’d buy and use salted butter, because I prefer salted butter on my toast and that’s where the rest of the butter would go.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:21 PM on December 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

There's no real standard on how salty salted butter is, so recipes generally will use unsalted butter and then ask you to add your own salt in a specific amount. If it says otherwise fine, but assume unsalted is the default.

That said, a lot of the time you can get away with either and still land within normal parameters of saltiness.
posted by aubilenon at 1:24 PM on December 21, 2019

I would use salted butter and add extra salt. This recipe sounds cloyingly sweet and unbalanced as written. Adding more salt will improve it greatly.
posted by quince at 1:27 PM on December 21, 2019

Salted butter and unsalted butter differ by more than salt. Unsalted butter is typically fresher in the store, because salt acts as a mild preservative. Unsalted butter is also generally a little higher in butter fat. This can be important for some pastries, such as, puff pastry. When butter is a major part of the flavor, I really like to use unsalted butter and usually a premium butter. I mean, in a sugar cookie don't you want the best butter flavor you can get?

That said, for most recipes, it won't make a fail-or-succeed difference. Don't worry about it.
posted by tmdonahue at 1:41 PM on December 21, 2019

Salted butter is for eating, e.g. spread on rolls, etc. Unsalted is for cooking.
posted by divinitys.mortal.flesh at 1:47 PM on December 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Thanks folks!
posted by cozenedindigo at 5:39 PM on December 21, 2019

I literally never use unsalted butter and I am generally known as an excellent cook and baker.
But if you don't believe me David Lebovitz agrees!
posted by exceptinsects at 7:53 PM on December 26, 2019

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