Melted Butter vs. Softened Butter in Bread | 7 Differences

Melted butter can make bread a little chewier, it will mix easier and it can give the bread a richer flavor. Melted butter is easy to make by microwaving for 30 seconds at a time in a microwave safe dish.

Here are some of the differences between melted versus softened butter when baking bread.

1. Melted butter and Softened Butter will Incorporate Differently

When butter is softened, it incorporates more easily and in a different way from melted butter. Melted butter doesn’t emulsify because it is made out of water and fat and for all practical purposes, it has done this already.

Melted butter, when stirred into the dough, has the potential to develop more gluten than you likely wanted, which sometimes results in a tough texture in the final product.

2. The difference will be less noticeable in Bread Than in Other Baked Items

When it comes to bread, the differences between melted butter and softened butter are noticeable, but not as distinct as in other baked goods. This doesn’t mean you can substitute one for the other.

With softened butter, the water remains emulsified and isn’t incorporated into the gluten network. Melted butter does incorporate into the gluten network. With more water in the dough, you get a baked item that is less finely crumbed and less tender.

Check out this helpful video that shows a great way to soften butter quickly.

3. Thicker vs. Spread

Softened butter is a solid and melted butter is a liquid, so when you use them in baked goods, the texture of the items will be different. If you were baking cookies, you’d notice more of a thicker and “fluffier” texture with softened butter and a cookie that spreads out more with melted butter.

With bread, the texture will be slightly different but not as pronounced as if you were making cookies.

4. Chewy vs. Crispy

In general, using softened butter will make baked goods a little chewier than melted butter will. This is because during the baking process, the water in the softened butter evaporates, and this is what gives the foods a chewier texture.

When melted butter is used, you get more of a crispy texture than a chewy texture, and while this is especially true when baking cookies, it can affect the texture of bread as well.

5. The Taste Is Different With Each Type of Butter

Even though the taste is different, it is a very subtle difference. With melted butter, you get a more intense flavor. This is because melted butter results in more molecules being exposed.

By contrast, fewer molecules are exposed in softened butter, so the taste – while still good – is not as intense but instead more subtle than using melted butter. Melted butter also provides a much richer overall taste.

6. It Depends on the Type of Bread You’re Baking

Deciding between melted butter and softened butter also depends on the type of bread you’re baking.

You’ll notice that when you’re baking a yeast bread, the recipe often calls for very soft (almost melted) butter so that it mixes more easily with the yeast, water, and sugar.

Quick breads usually require butter that is completely melted so it mixes better with the room-temperature milk and eggs.

7. It Also Depends on the Mixing You Do

If your bread recipe calls for gentle mixing of the dough, you can usually add melted butter instead of softened butter. Melted butter is good for quick breads, waffles and pancakes, and even brownies.

Baking soda or baking powder is used in these recipes and therefore, it doesn’t need softened butter to help it rise. Instead, the butter is there mostly for flavor, color, and moisture.

3 Benefits of Using Melted Butter to Make Bread

Whatever your recipe calls for – either melted butter or softened butter – you should go ahead and use it. Following recipes to the letter is the best way to make sure your bread comes out with a great taste and texture.

That being said, there are a few advantages to using melted butter to make bread, and they include the following:

1. It Gives the Bread More Structure

Believe it or not, bread can fall apart without the right ingredients. Melted butter tends to prevent that because it gives homemade bread a little more thickness and structure.

2. It Gives the Bread a Richer Flavor

The overall flavor of your bread is going to be richer than it would if you had used softened butter. Both will taste great as long as you follow the rest of the instructions, but you get a richer flavor when you use melted butter.

3. It Makes the Bread Less Chewy

While bread is good when it’s chewy, you don’t want it too chewy because you don’t want it to taste like cookies. When you use melted butter, you’ll never have this problem.

What Does Adding Melted Butter to Bread Do?

To answer this question, keep in mind that when you use melted butter, it has already released a lot of the water that was originally there. Because of this, melted butter can make bread very dense and soft, not to mention giving it a much richer flavor.

This is why, in addition to bread, it is often recommended that you use melted butter in brownies and similar items.

When you put fat in your bread dough, such as butter or lard, it will tenderize the gluten, which makes it both chewy and moist.

Fats allow you to reduce the browning temperature, which results in a shorter amount of time for the crust to form. When it comes to melted butter in bread, the biggest difference is going to be the texture of the bread, even though the taste will be somewhat affected as well.

Is It Better to Use Melted Butter or Softened Butter When Making Bread?

When choosing between melted butter and softened butter, each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Bottom line: always stick to what the recipe says.

There’s a reason why each recipe will recommend either softened or melted butter, so when baking bread, always follow the instructions to the letter if you want great results in the end.

Melted Butter vs. Softened Butter in Bread | Summary

Melted butter and softened butter can result in a rich and chewy bread as a result. Butter will give the bread a darker and browner color and a crustier top. Rich brioche or butter based breads are delicious and are great for burgers.