Butter sticks, also known as butter bars or pats, are a common way that butter is packaged and sold. They come in standard sizes, usually 1/4 pound or 1/2 pound sticks. Knowing fractions like 2/3 in relation to a standard butter stick can be useful for recipes and cooking measurements.
On a typical 1/2 pound butter stick, 2/3 of the stick would be approximately 5 1/3 tablespoons or 80 grams of butter.
Butter Stick Sizes
Butter sticks are packaged in standard sizes in the United States:
- 1/4 pound sticks contain 4 tablespoons or 57 grams of butter
- 1/2 pound sticks contain 8 tablespoons or 113 grams of butter
So a typical 1/2 pound butter stick contains 8 tablespoons or 113 grams of butter total. Knowing this helps us calculate how much 2/3 of a stick would be.
Calculating 2/3 of a 1/2 Pound Butter Stick
To find 2/3 of a 1/2 pound butter stick:
- Take the total number of tablespoons in a 1/2 pound stick: 8 tablespoons
- Calculate 2/3 of 8 tablespoons:
- 2/3 = 0.666…
- 0.666… * 8 tablespoons = 5.33 tablespoons
- Round 5.33 tablespoons to 5 1/3 tablespoons
So 2/3 of an 8 tablespoon, 1/2 pound butter stick is 5 1/3 tablespoons.
Calculating in Grams
To calculate 2/3 of 113 grams:
- 113 grams (total in 1/2 pound stick)
- 2/3 = 0.666…
- 0.666… * 113 grams = 75.33 grams
- Round to 80 grams
So 2/3 of a 113 gram, 1/2 pound butter stick is 80 grams.
- A typical 1/2 pound butter stick contains 8 tablespoons or 113 grams total
- 2/3 of a 1/2 pound stick is:
- 5 1/3 tablespoons
- 80 grams
Knowing how to calculate fractions of standard butter sticks is helpful for baking recipes, managing food costs, and other kitchen needs. Butter sticks make it easy to visualize fractions and portion butter accurately for cooking and baking.
Butter Stick History and Use
Butter sticks originated in the United States as a way to standardize butter packaging. Before butter sticks, butter was packaged in variable chunks that made consistent measuring difficult. The 1/2 pound stick was popularized in the 1920s as the standard for butter packaging.
Butter sticks caught on because they allowed easy portioning for recipes and cooking. Their rectangular shape also made them easy to store and stack. The markings on the wrapper indicating tablespoons and 1/4 cup increments further improved ease of use.
Butter sticks are still ubiquitous in the United States today. They can be used for:
- Baking – creaming butter and sugar, coating pans, adding flavor
- Cooking – sautéing vegetables, adding richness to sauces and gravies
- Table use – buttering bread, melting on vegetables or meats
Understanding how to work with fractions of a stick, like 2/3, allows cooks to easily measure the precise amount needed for any recipe or use.
Butter Stick Alternatives
While butter sticks are the most common form of butter packaging in the U.S., some alternatives exist:
- Tubs – Sold in 8 oz, 1 lb, and 2 lb sizes. Allow scooping and spreading.
- Whipped butter – Softer consistency, easy to spread.
- European-style – Sold in 250 gram blocks. Popular outside the U.S.
- Butter quarters – 1/4 pound sticks, convenient for small uses.
Each packaging type has pros and cons. Sticks are great for baking and cooking but less convenient for spreading. Tubs allow easy access for spreading but more difficult portioning. Whipped butter, quarters, and European blocks also have specialized uses.
There are also several popular butter stand-ins on the market:
- Margarine – Made from vegetable oils, sometimes with dairy added.
- Spreads – Reduced fat butter blends.
- Oils – Coconut, olive, avocado, grapeseed.
- Shortenings – Lard, vegetable shortening.
Substitutes can be used in place of butter for certain uses:**
However, most bakers and cooks still prefer the flavor, performance, and ubiquity of butter sticks for most purposes.
Butter Stick Nutrition
Butter is high in fat, but does contain some nutritional value:
- 1 tablespoon (14g) contains 100 calories and 11g fat (7g saturated fat)
- Rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K
- Contains conjugated linoleic acid with potential health benefits
The high fat content means butter provides a lot of energy in a small serving. The fatty acids give butter a smooth, rich texture and help distribute fat-soluble vitamins.
However, butter is high in saturated fat and cholesterol so should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. When portioning a butter stick, keep in mind that 2 tablespoons provides nearly 20% of the recommended daily limit for saturated fat.
Cooking and Baking with Fractional Butter Stick Amounts
When a recipe calls for a fraction of a butter stick, use a knife or measuring spoon to cut and level the desired amount:
- Mark the wrapper at the specified measurement
- Use a long sturdy knife to cut through the stick in one motion at the marking
- Level off the end of the cut portion with the side of the knife to remove excess
Use a butter knife or spoon to scoop, scrape, and level sticks when fractions smaller than 1/4 stick are needed.
Be precise – inaccurate butter measurements can throw off recipes. Too much can cause baked goods to spread while too little may lead to dry texture.
Example Recipe Using Fractional Butter Stick
Here’s an example recipe using a fraction of a butter stick:
Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits
- 2 cups flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup cold butter (1/2 stick)
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- Heat oven to 450°F.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cut in 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
- Stir in buttermilk until just combined.
- Turn dough onto floured surface and knead gently 3-4 times.
- Roll out to 3/4″ thickness and cut with biscuit cutter.
- Place on baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
This recipe calls for 1/4 cup or 1/2 stick of butter. Using a standard stick makes it easy to cut the precise 1/4 cup needed.
Converting Butter Stick Amounts to Grams
For recipes using weight rather than cup measurements, use the following conversions for butter sticks:
|1 tablespoon||14 grams|
|1/4 cup (1/4 pound stick)||57 grams|
|1/3 cup (1/3 pound stick)||76 grams|
|1/2 cup (1/2 pound stick)||113 grams|
To find any fraction in grams, calculate the percentage of 113 grams. For example:
- 2/3 stick = 66% of 113 grams = 75 grams
- 1/8 stick = 12.5% of 113 grams = 14 grams
Cost Savings When Buying and Portioning Butter Sticks
Buying butter in sticks can also provide cost savings compared to small tubs or whipped butter. Look for sales on multi-packs of butter sticks.
Divide sticks into portions needed for recipes then rewrap and freeze to avoid waste. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before use.
Making homemade whipped butter is also inexpensive compared to buying pre-whipped spreads. Simply beat 1/2 cup cold butter on high speed until light and fluffy.
Butter sticks make it easy to visualize and measure fractions, ounces, tablespoons, and cups. On a typical 1/2 pound butter stick, 2/3 of the stick equals about 5 1/3 tablespoons or 80 grams.
Understanding butter stick sizes and how to calculate fractions of a stick is helpful for recipes, cooking, baking, and cost savings. While butter alternatives exist, real butter provides superior flavor and performance for most uses.