Measuring butter is easy if you read the measurements on the wrapper of each stick. So, there's no need to pack butter into measuring cups!
General Facts on the Packaging of Butter
In the United States salted and unsalted butter is generally sold by the pound or the half pound and is shaped into sticks and wrapped in wrappers made of aluminum foil or wax paper.
The wrappers have measurements that show where to cut the stick for a specific measurement. Each stick has markers for tablespoons, ¼ cup, ⅓ cup, and ½ cup.
Additionally, some manufacturers offer "half sticks" where the butter is packaged in sticks that are ½ the length of a regular stick. Each half stick equals ¼ cup of butter, and the wrapper shows tablespoon markings.
Quick and Simple FAQ's on How to Measure Butter
There are 4 sticks of butter in 1 pound.
There are 2 cups of butter in 1 pound.
One stick of butter equals ½ cup.
Two sticks of butter equal 1 cup.
How to Measure ⅔ Cup of Butter
The most difficult and annoying butter measurement is for ⅔ cup. I find it is easiest to cut ⅓ cup from each of 2 sticks of butter. The remaining small knob of butter left on each stick can be used in other cooking.
Special Terms for Measuring Butter
There are a few terms for measuring butter that you may find in older recipes. These are imprecise measurements but are generally consistently made by the cook that wrote the recipe. So, for that cook, a pat, a knob, and a dot, are the same every time they cook. A knob of butter is more than a pat and a dot of butter is less than a pat.
- Pat - A pat of butter means a slice of butter from the stick and generally means up to 1 tablespoon.
- Knob - A knob of butter is generally more than a pat but less than half of a stick.
- Dot - Some recipes will say to "dot with butter". This means cutting pats of butter into small cubes or pieces and scattering them on the food. This is often done when making fruit pies and scalloped dishes to easily add richness to a dish.
Historic Terms for Measuring Butter
The following terms for measures of butter are ones you may see in recipes that are prior to the 20th century.
- Butter the Size of an Egg equals approximately ¼ cup or ½ stick.
- Butter the Size of a Walnut equals about 1 tablespoon or a pat.