Ingredient Spotlight: European Butter / by Anthony Michael Contrino

Sometimes buying the best is difficult, especially if you’re on a budget.  Luckily for us, due to popular demand, high-end butter is priced competitively enough to make the cut!  European butter (or European style butter) has a higher fat content than standard American butter and typically offers richer color and flavor.   If I’m making a batch of chocolate chip cookies, standard butter works just fine, but when it comes to pound cakes, croissants, and buttercream, only European butter will do.  

I took one for the team and tasted the five most common brands offered at local supermarkets - at least where I live.  While all the butters listed below make excellent choices for various applications, the clear favorite was Presidential.  

Retail prices are not listed, however they range from $2.99 to $4.99 for 8-ounces.  If you’re fortunate to have a restaurant depot card, you can grab a pound of Plugra for about $2.70 a POUND.  You can also buy most of these butters in bulk from online retailers at a wholesale price.  If you come across a bargain, stock up.  Butter will last for months in the freezer.

Land O’Lakes European Style

PROS:  comes in 4 ounce sticks like us Americans are used to

CONS: lacking a pure butter flavor, not as creamy

USE IT: for every day use in savory and sweet

Kerrygold

PROS: rich, yellow color; soft, creamy consistency

CONS: if used in certain baked goods, the butter flavor can take over

USE IT: on toast and pancakes; for desserts where butter is the star, like pound cake or biscuits

Plugra European Style

PROS: versatile; easy to find, standard in many restaurants and bakeries

CONS: doesn’t shine on its own

USE IT: for everyday cooking and baking, where butter is not the star

Finlandia

PROS: rich, yellow color, pure butter taste

CONS: if used in certain baked goods, the butter flavor can take over

USE IT: on crackers and to sear scallops and steak

Presidential

PROS: high quality, French butter; the perfect balance of neutrality and butteriness

CONS: somewhat hard to find, pricey

USE IT: for everything