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How to Cream Butter and Sugar Together

Updated on June 25, 2011
Cream butter with a mixer photo: VancityAllie @flickr
Cream butter with a mixer photo: VancityAllie @flickr

What Is Creaming Butter and Sugar?

Many dessert recipes call for the baker to cream together butter and sugar. What does that mean? Creaming butter and sugar simply means to mix them together until the results produce a light, fluffy texture. It takes about 10 minutes. Sounds simple, and it is, but there are a few precautions that you need to get it right.

Why Is It Important to Cream Butter and Sugar Correctly?

It is important to cream butter and sugar correctly, or it could have adverse effects on the final recipe results. Creaming creates air pockets in a recipe batter. This causes the food to rise, giving an airy, delicate texture. It is the same principle as yeast making bread rise. Creaming produces cakes and desserts that aren't dense, but instead light and airy.

How to Cream Butter With a Mixer

Creaming usually refers to butter, but it can also be shortening or margarine. (However, I don't recommend using margarine ever.) Usually white sugar is used, but sometimes brown sugar is called for in a recipe, especially cookies.

Creaming butter and sugar can be done by hand or with a mixer. Here is how to do both:

How to Cream Butter With a Mixer

Slice the butter into small chunks. Put into a deep mixing bowl. Turn the mixer on low. After the butter gets soft, turn the mixer to medium for about a minute. When the blades get clogged, stop the mixer and scrape off the blades. Start again. Mix until the butter is smooth.

Then add the sugar a little bit at a time, pouring it into the side of the mixing bowl. As you do this, occasionally stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.

How to Cream Butter and Sugar by Hand

This is the traditional way to cream butter and sugar together. It is also amazingly tiring.

Basically you use room temperature butter. Cut the butter into small pieces. Then you beat it with a wooden spoon until it becomes soft. Next you add the sugar. Keep beating them together (creaming), until it becomes fluffy, similar in texture to whipped cream, but a bit denser.

How Do I Know It Is Creamed Correctly?

How to know when it is creamed correctly? Here are a few clues to let you know when it is ready to use for baking:

When the mixer starts to form ridges, it is a sign that it is done.
When the color becomes a pale cream.
When it starts sticking to the sides of the bowl.

More Butter Creaming Tips

  • Use the mixture immediately. If you can't, put it into the refrigerator. When you remove it from the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature and mix it a couple of minutes again before using.
  • Be sure to start out with room temperature butter. Butter that is either too cold or too warm will not produce the best results. Don't ever use melted butter. If you start a recipe and have forgotten to set the butter out to soften beforehand, it is easily and quickly corrected. Just use a grater and grate the required amount of butter. It will take only a minute or two to come to room temperature. Don't wait too long to use it, or it will become too soft!
  • Also, make certain that the mixing bowls or other utensils used are at room temperature as well. Think about this if you've just washed a load of dishes in the dishwasher!

How to Cream Butter and Sugar Together Video


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