Best Butter: No Buts About the 7 Best Butters (Salted & Unsalted)

What is the best butter? The best butter is more than just a cooking lubricant (wink). It’s rich, creamy, a little grassy, and so good you want to eat it like cheese. These are the best brands of butter—both salted and unsalted—that deserve a place in your butter dish. 

Are you in the salted butter camp or do you rep team unsalted? If you think the answer is obvious, ask your friends. You might find out that it’s more of a charged question than you thought. The Sporked team was divided but leaned toward salted. Personally, though, I think you need both. There are occasions for unsalted butter (spreading on cinnamon raisin toast or if you’re following a recipe to the letter, for example) and there are times for salted butter (it certainly belongs in cookies and if you’re riffing a recipe, such as a simple saute of mushrooms, it’s an easy way to add instant seasoning). 

So, for this butter tasting, we sampled both salted and unsalted specimens. Sitting down to a table filled with butter, armed with just a knife and some crackers (in order to test spreadability), was a dream come true. I was finally free to eat slices of pure butter. Luckily, most of them were pretty good. But there were a few that were less than delicious. Here are the best butters (because, yes, it matters) that you can buy. 

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Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter with Sea Salt

Best of the Best

Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter with Sea Salt

We tried some fancy butters, but this reasonably priced salted butter (that is actually from Vermont) was the absolute best butter. “This butter takes you on a journey to butter town,” said Sporked managing editor Gwynedd Stuart. “It fills your mouth with flavor.” Staff writer Danny Palumbo agreed, taking bite after bite. “There’s a ton of nice full-fat flavor—a ton of depth,” he said. “I’m all aboard.” (Choo choo, Danny.) This is good enough to be centerpiece butter but affordable enough to be everyday butter. You could practically serve this as a starter course at a dinner party—that’s how good it is.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter

Best Irish

Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter

Ask a chef what they think the best butter is and more often than not they’ll tell you it’s Kerrygold. The salt is beautifully integrated into the butter itself, which is a gorgeous yellow hue thanks to the high butter fats. I might use this butter as a reference color for an accent wall in my kitchen—that’s how pretty it is. Kerrygold is good for cooking (it doesn’t add too much salt to any dish, just enough to elevate it), but it’s also good slathered onto a piece of bread. It spreads like a dream.

Credit: Merc / Target

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Horizon Organic Salted Organic Butter

Best Seriously Salted

Horizon Organic Salted Organic Butter

Salted butter can taste chemically sometimes. But not Horizon. This is the best butter for salted-butter devotees. The savory flavors crest over your tongue—wave after wave of sea salt sensations. “It actually tastes like cream,” said Gwynedd. “It’s super sweet and super salty at the same time.” She wants it on a baguette, and I agree. Channel your inner Parisian and make yourself a ham, butter, and brie sandwich with a thick base of Horizon butter.

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

The Devon Cream Company Double Devon Cream Butter

Best Splurge

The Devon Cream Company Double Devon Cream Butter

If you gave this butter to me as a present, I would send you a very earnest thank you note. Not only is it wrapped in gold with a scripted label, it’s also complexly flavored and just plain incredible. It’s the best butter if you’re willing to shell out a bit more cash, since it costs almost twice as much as many others on this list. But it’s worth it if you want to sit down to a meal of bread or radishes and butter. It’s so yellow with a ton of character—it has a meaty, umami quality. “It’s flavorful in a way that I was not expecting from butter,” said editorial assistant Naajia Shukri. “There’s a little bit of blue cheese funk—I love it.”

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Tillamook Sea Salted Extra Creamy Butter

Best Ultra Creamy

Tillamook Sea Salted Extra Creamy Butter

It says it on the label and it follows through—this butter is, indeed, extra creamy. It’s the best butter for a truly indulgent experience. And it’s good for unsalted butter fans, as well. There’s just a touch of salt, as if the butter makers just lightly sprinkled it with sea salt before lovingly packing it up (I assume) and sending it out into the wide world. Tillamook is a farmer-owned co-op based in Oregon, so you can feel good that, even though this butter costs a bit more money, a good chunk of that money is going directly to the farmers.

Credit: Merc / Target

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

kroger butter unsalted

Best Generic

Kroger Unsalted Butter

“This is an unsalted butter I’m into,” said salted-butter devotee Danny. “It has a really nice, pleasantly creamy flavor.” I was shocked when I tasted Kroger’s butter. It tastes like hotel butter—the kind you get in a little dish when you order room service. (That’s relatable, right?) It’s sweet and creamy with a touch of grassy flavor that tells you it was made from good quality milk. I think this is the best butter for baking. It adds richness to each baked good and it’s cheap enough that I don’t feel bad going through stick after stick.

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

challenge butter unsalted

Best Unsalted

Challenge Butter Unsalted

Even Sporked staff writer Jordan Myrick—who doesn’t think unsalted butter should exist—liked this butter. It’s very fresh tasting—the grassiest of the bunch. It’s great spread on bread or toast and good for everyday cooking. I tend to cook with unsalted butter more than salted butter, and this is the best butter I’ve found for cooking things like scallops or steaks, or melting onto soon-to-be-loaded-up baked potatoes. It’s a workhorse. Or a workcow, I guess?

Credit: Merc / Target

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Other butters we tried: Happy Belly salted butter sticks, Trader joes salted butter, Trader joes unsalted butter, Great Value unsalted sweet cream butter, Sprouts unsalted butter, First Street premium European style butter, First Street butter, sweet cream salted, Danish Creamery butter European style, Simple Truth organic butter with sunflower oil, Countryside Creamery salted

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About the Author

Justine Sterling

Justine Sterling is the editor-in-chief of Sporked. She has been writing about food and beverages for well over a decade and is an avid at-home cook and snacker. Don’t worry, she’s not a food snob. Sure, she loves a fresh-shucked oyster. But she also will leap at whatever new product Reese’s releases and loves a Tostitos Hint of Lime, even if there is no actual lime in the ingredients.

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  • if all of the listed butters got 7.5/10 sporks, are any of them really any better than the others?

    Reply
    • woops! fixed!

      Reply
  • I grew up in Ireland eating kerrygold when I came stateside I couldn’t understand white looking butter that had a grease taste challenge is good Ive never had the number one here but I believe you but all butter should look like kerrygold I think it has something to do with all the rain and green grass

    Reply
  • My favorite is Plugra salted butter. I don’t know how anyone eats unsalted butter. If you’re cooking with it, reduce the amount of salt you add to your dish. Plugra tastes similar to homemade butter my granny used to make. Yum. Kerrygold is my 2nd place. 🙂

    Reply
  • Please try Plugra, it’s life changing
    And as a pastry chef I swear by it

    Reply
  • For real butter, salted or non, I use a brand called Land O Lakes.

    Reply