Does Butter Need to be Refrigerated?

Does butter need to be refrigerated?
Is it really necessary to refrigerate butter?

Actually, butter does not need to be refrigerated if the temperature is less than 70°F. Normally, it is highly recommended to store a product as it was when purchased. Since butter is purchased from the refrigeration section of the grocery, it is recommended that butter be stored in the refrigerator at home. Refrigeration is the best storage for the extended shelf life of butter. But, for the short term at least, butter does not require refrigeration to be safe to consume.

need to refrigerate butter

Does Butter Need to be Refrigerated?

How to Safely Store Butter on the Counter

For the optimal storage of butter, it should be refrigerated. For short term storage of butter, it can be kept out on the counter for a week, or two weeks at maximum. Beyond that time it may begin to spoil and develop a rancid taste.

butter need refrigeration

The butter on the left has been on the counter for more than 24 hours. It is spreadably soft and slightly lighter in color than the butter on the right, which is directly out of the refrigerator. Following are additional tips about leaving butter out on the counter.

  • Make sure that counter butter is pasteurized, which most butter is unless it is labeled “raw”.
    Pasteurization removes bacteria.

  • Make sure counter butter is salted. Salt is a preservative and helps stop the growth of bacteria.

  • Store butter in a covered air-tight container to prevent any contaminants from landing and causing trouble.

  • Beware of cross-contamination.
    Dirty hands and dirty knives, just as in any food, can leave bacteria behind in this soft substance.

  • Butter can be kept on the counter for about a week, in a colder kitchen it will last for two weeks.
    Don’t leave the whole box of butter on the counter, just what you will use in a week.
    If your kitchen is kept above 70°F, it will not last as long.

  • A butter crock makes a great container to leave on the counter if you use a fair amount of butter.
    Since butter is fat, it will begin to taste rancid at some point beyond a week.
  • Does Butter Need to be Refrigerated?

    Additional Information

    To find out how long butter lasts, see our butter page.

    For a longer term storage of butter, see our freezing butter post.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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