Sometimes labeled SWEET CREAM UNSALTED BUTTER, it’s made by churning cream—that’s it. Bakers often opt for it to control the salt content in a recipe.
Also labeled SWEET CREAM SALTED BUTTER, this is just unsalted butter that’s been salted. A stick usually has a quarter teaspoon or so of salt, but the amount varies by brand. If you’re baking with salted butter, you can reduce the amount of salt in the recipe.
If you see GRASS-FED on the label, it means the cows that produced the cream were fed primarily an all-grass diet. This premium butter has a deep-yellow color (thanks to all the beta-carotene in the grass) and a flavor that’s, well, grassier than the other stuff.
This tangy butter is made by adding live bacteria (i.e., cultures) to the cream. The slight sourness is especially delicious in baked goods, like scones and piecrusts, but those who love the taste use this butter for everything. Note: Some brands of cultured butter can be on the spendier side, so consider this your special-occasion spread.
Churned longer than regular butter, this has less water and more butterfat (up to 86 percent versus 80 percent). European butter is beloved among bakers, who say the extra fat makes their cakes more tender and their cookies extra crunchy.
A staple of Indian cooking, ghee is a type of clarified butter—meaning there are no milk solids (it’s often lactose-free) or water. It doesn’t burn at high temperatures like regular butter can, so it’s great for frying and sautéing. You can find it in some grocery stores in either plain, which has a slightly nutty flavor, or trendy flavors like pink salt and vanilla bean.