Butter: Nutrition Facts and Benefits

Nothing pairs better with warm bread or grilled corn like a pat of butter.

Whether you’re melting it into mouthwatering mashed potatoes or mixing it into your favorite birthday cake batter, butter is a staple in many refrigerators and dining tables around the world. From salted and unsalted to whipped and clarified, butter can bring that extra burst of flavor to our favorite foods.

Butter is a concentrated source of milk fat with some water and nonfat milk solids. It is made from milk, cream or both of these ingredients. In earlier times, making or churning butter was a common practice on farms. When the first U.S. creamery was built in Iowa in 1871, making butter became a commercial production.

Traditional butter (80% milk fat) is made from pasteurized cream and can be either salted (which is often referred to as “sweet cream butter”) or unsalted. Another common variety of butter is whipped butter, which is regular butter into which air or nitrogen has been whipped to increase its volume, making it easier to spread.

Other types of butter include clarified butter and ghee. Clarified butter is clear, melted butter separated from its milk solids and water. Because clarified butter can be heated to a higher temperature without burning, it’s great for or frying. Ghee, meanwhile, a staple in Indian diets, is basically clarified butter that’s cooked a little longer, resulting in a nuttier flavor.

On top of butter’s amazing versatility as a spread or ingredient, you can make your own butter at home and then freeze it.