Melting Butter and Chocolate

Many recipes will require melting butter or chocolate. This isn’t terribly complicated, but both substances can be temperamental in similar ways, so this post will give you a quick rundown of how to keep things from going awry.

Stove Top

Chocolate is best melted using a double boiler. This allows more careful control of the temperature and rate at which it heats, which can help prevent seizing and is also useful if you’re tempering the chocolate. Take care not to get any water from the pot into the bowl–this can also cause it to seize.

Low heat in a little sauce pan is a good way to melt butter (if you use higher heat or keep it on after it’s melted, you might wind up with brown butter, which is pure magic but not necessarily what you want for everything).


The above methods are more careful, but to be honest, I usually can’t be bothered. I usually use the microwave for melting butter and chocolate. This is a little iffier, but usually works out if you go about it cautiously. Butter especially likes to explode all over the inside of the microwave if it gets too hot too fast, and chocolate if over heated goes all grainy and thick again. Note that if you are trying to temper chocolate, you definitely need to go with the double boiler.

So first step is to figure out how to set your microwave to low or medium-low power (don’t go above 50% power as a general rule of thumb, but the exact settings will vary depending on the wattage). Start with a short amount of time, such as 10-15 seconds. It also helps to get butter as close to room temp as possible before melting it in the microwave. As you continue, and the ingredient gets hotter, the time should only get shorter. Every time you check it, give it a quick stir to make sure it’s heating evenly and, in the case of chocolate, not getting grainy. If you have only a small amount of solid butter/chocolate remaining, just take it out and stir until the heat already present in the food melts the rest.

Above all else, DON’T GET DISTRACTED and walk away while melting butter or chocolate.