I tested a viral TikTok cooking hack so you wouldn't have to

Spoiler: it worked...kinda.

Hi there,

Like many millennials, it’s now been about a year since I downloaded the app that, despite my Gen-Z brother’s many months of enthusiastic endorsement, I had dismissed until the early days of the pandemic. The first round of lockdown’s potent cocktail of existential dread and boredom nudged my finger right toward that download button and since then, I’ve logged hours (days?) scrolling aimlessly on said app. We all have our vices, and TikTok is mine.

But today, I’m finally putting my vice to work! The joy of TikTok is its For You Page—the selection of videos curated just *for you* via its (eerily accurate and possibly suspect) algorithm. The short videos I see on my FYP are mostly of the funny cat persuasion, but every once in a while TikTok deigns to bless my tiny screen with a cooking hack. Like any good hack, most of them seem too good to be true, but the premise is always paired with video evidence that feels hard to deny. That said, we live in the age of photoshop when it’s safe to assume anything digital has been manipulated in some way, so I always view these videos with a healthy grain of salt. And the thought I should test that out someday inevitably crosses my mind.

Well, today is that day! I tested the butter softening hack depicted in this video and am ready to share my results with you.

If you don’t want to or can’t check out the video, here’s a little run down: Babs, a self-proclaimed “grandma of 8 and mom of 4,” frantically informs us that she’s forgotten to soften her stick of butter for a recipe that calls for soft butter, then shares the instructions for her “Babs hack” to remedy the situation: fill a glass with “really hot” tap water, dump the water, place the hot glass over the stick of butter, and wait five minutes. The video concludes as she lifts the glass with a flourish, takes the stick of butter in her hand, and squeezes to reveal that it is indeed miraculously soft after only five minutes.

I followed Babs’ instructions to a T, using my sink’s hottest setting (which is quite hot) to fill my glass, dumping it, covering my butter, and waiting five minutes before lifting the glass from it. When it was time for the big reveal, I was disappointed to find that only the outermost layer of the butter was softened at all. Womp womp. But! I tested a slightly adjusted version of Babs’ hack to stellar results.

Here’s how to soften butter using a slightly modified version of this TikTok hack:

  1. Boil water on your stove. Based on my initial experiment, even the hottest tap water probably won’t yield the gloriously soft butter we’re going for.

  2. While the water boils, select a glass that will comfortably fit over a stick of butter (a standard mason jar is the perfect size). Before you pour boiling water into the glass, warm it by filling it with hot tap water, then dumping it. This will prevent thermal shock, which can cause the glass to shatter, so don’t skip this step.

  3. Carefully fill the warmed glass with the water from your stove and let the water warm the glass, which will only take a couple seconds. Then, as Babs instructs, dump the water in your sink (or use it for tea in another glass). Use an oven mitt for this and the next step if the glass is too hot to handle.

  4. Place the hot glass over your stick of butter, set a timer for five minutes, and return to softened butter! Use the butter in your recipe of choice. I’ve been super into these cookies, lately.

Would I use this butter-softening hack again? Because I have access to a microwave, probably not. Placing butter on a plate and blitzing it in fifteen second increments, turning it between each round in the microwave until it’s fully softened is just as effective and much faster than Babs’ hack. But if I find myself in a situation without a microwave, an urgent hankering for chocolate chip cookies, and a stick of very hard butter, I may just pull Babs’ tip out of my back pocket. Because you may find yourself in this situation as well, and I would never ever want you to go without chocolate chip cookies, I considered it my kitchen-tipster duty to share this hack with you. Go forth and bake, my friend!

Alright, that’s it from me this week. As always, keep me posted: would you ever or have you used this particular tip? Would you like to see me test more TikTok-based alleged cooking hacks (there are a lot of them out there)? And more broadly, how’s it going in your kitchen these days? You can respond to me directly via this email, leave a public comment on the post, or tag me on Instagram with any updates. I love to chat!

With love and a *tip* of my chef’s hat,


Want more? I’m so flattered! You can also follow me on Instagram or check out my blog where you can find my tip-laden e-book collection.