Kitchen Tip: Trick for Cutting Butter into Flour

4 different ways to cut butter into flour for recipes like pie crusts or biscuits. The 4th method of cutting butter in flour on this list is my all time favorite kitchen tips, and also the best way to cut butter into flour if you’re wondering “what can I substitute for a pastry blender”!

You know when a recipe, particularly something like a biscuit or scone recipe, tells you to cut the butter into the flour mixture? There are several ways you can go about doing cutting butter into flour.

Do you have trouble making tender, flaky, biscuits, pie crusts, or scones? Or have you ever wondered what it means when a recipe tells you to “cut the cold butter into flour?” This kitchen tip is for you!

Ways to cut butter into flour:

  • Use a food processor and pules the mixture until you have a crumb like mixture.
  • Use two knives and literally cut the butter into the flour until you have little tiny bits of butter.
  • Use a pastry blender which ultimately works pretty similar to the knife method but is easier.

Video of Cutting Butter Into Flour

Check out the video in this post for a quick summary of all of the ways that you can cut butter in flour.

In the video, you’ll see several traditional methods as well as my special alternative which is great if you don’t have a food processor or are wondering what you can use if you don’t have a pastry blender.

Tips for Cutting Butter In Flour

When working butter into flour, you always want to make sure that the butter is extremely cold. Don’t take your butter out of the refrigerator until right before you plan to use it.

Don’t work the butter into pieces smaller than approximately pea sized. When you create small pieces of cold butter evenly mixed in with the flour, the result is tender flakiness. If the pieces of butter become too small, you’ll loose that flakiness. Definitely don’t opt to melt the butter instead.

If the butter has become warm after you’ve worked it into pea sized bits in the flour, you can put the flour and butter mixture into the refrigerator or freezer for a bit to chill the butter.

How to Cut Butter Into Flour with a Food Processor

Using a food processor to cut butter in flour is super easy! First, you’ll cut your butter into 1 tablespoon sized pieces. Then, you’ll add the butter and the flour to the food processor. Cutting in butter is done by pulsing the flour and butter until you have the crumb like mixture that your recipe calls for.

Be careful not to blend the butter with the flour. You want to keep cold bits of butter, about pea sized, throughout the flour. This is how recipes like pie crusts and biscuits become tender and flaky.

The only downside to this method for cutting butter in flour is that you have a bulky kitchen appliance to wash afterwards. I tend to only use this method if I’m going to be using the food processor for something else afterwards or if I’m making a large batch of flour + butter.

How to Cut Butter Into Flour with Knives

The method of cutting butter into flour with knives might sound like a tricky way to cut butter in because of the wording, but it is actually relatively simple. You will use two butter knives and literally cut the butter while it is in the bowl with the flour.

Start by slicing the butter into tablespoon sized pieces. Then, toss the butter in the flour until each piece is coated. Now, its time to begin the cutting process.

The knives should criss cross as you cut through the butter, forming an X pattern when they meet in the middle. As you work the butter, it will become smaller and smaller and you’ll end up with tiny bits of butter throughout the flour.

The butter pieces should be about pea sized by the time you’re done cutting all of the butter into the flour for your recipe and they should be evenly distributed throughout the flour.

How Do You Cut Butter in a Pastry Blender

Using a pastry blender to cut butter into flour ultimately works pretty similar to the knife method but is much easier.

First, you’ll place the flour into a mixing bowl. Then, you’ll add the butter to the flour and toss the butter until coated in flour. Be sure to cut the butter into 1 tablespoon sized slices first because this makes cutting butter in flour much easier. It will take less time and that will help the butter not become too soft as you work.

Then, you’ll press down on the pastry blending, pushing the thin metal blades or tines into the butter and rocking back and forth. Then, pick the pastry blender up and repeat in a different area.

Keep doing this until all the butter has been cut into small bits, about the size of peas, and is evenly distributed throughout the flour.

Cutting Butter Into Flour

Or you can use this next little trick, which is my personal favorite. Why do I think it is the best method?

You can work with the butter while it’s frozen (I store extra butter in the freezer), thus keeping the butter as cold as possible. This method is great if you are wondering what you can use if you don’t have a pastry blender.

Little bits of very cold butter mixed in with the flour mixture is the key to moist, flaky biscuits, pie crusts, scones, or any other recipe that calls for the butter being cut into the flour.

What is the trick to cut butter into flour?

Cutting Frozen Butter Into Flour with a Cheese Grater

I like to take a frozen stick of butter and grate it using the largest holes of a box cheese grater, as opposed to cutting the butter using other methods such as a food processor or pastry cutter.

You will end up with a pile of cold grated bits of butter that are perfect for mixing into flour. It works great for me this way, but it certainly isn’t the only way to go about cutting butter into flour.

I do think that this method is much faster than cutting with a pastry cutter and definitely has way less clean up than a food processor. The grater fits so easily in the dishwasher without taking up much space, or can be quickly washed by hand. Work’s for me!

After you’ve grated the frozen butter, mix the cold, grated butter bits into the flour mixture for your recipe.

After you’ve mixed it all up, stick the bowl of the flour and butter mixture in the freezer for a few minutes to get the butter really, really cold again.

Finally, proceed with the rest of the recipe according to the instructions. There you have it! You’ve learned all of the different ways to cut cold butter into flour.

What Readers are Saying about this Trick for Cutting Butter into Flour

“OMG. I want to kiss you. Not being creepy, sorry. Just, I live in China and I don’t own a food processor or a pastry cutter thing so this is life-saving and awesome and quick and YAY! Thank you muchly!”

“Never in a million years would I have thought of that. And I always groan when the recipe calls for cutting in the butter. It just never works properly for me – too fine or too big. Thanks for the tip!”

“oh. my. goodnes. you are a GENIUS! you know, I don’t have a food processor nor a pastry blender in my house, and the only way for me was the one with the two knives…. which made me really tired after the one (and because of this only) time i’ve made pie dough. but now thanks to you i’ll be doing it much often!!! thanks a million!!”

“Thanks so much for posting this! I have never had success cutting butter in using the food processor, because the pieces get too small. But I don’t have the hand strength to cut in using knives or a pastry cutting tool. I was looking for ideas and alternate methods last night and found this post. I used my food processor to shred the frozen butter and then tossed it with my dry ingredients. The result was really perfect biscuits, puffy and airy. Thank you so much. I am going to use this technique always, whenever I make biscuits or pie crust.”

What is your favorite trick for cutting butter into flour?

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How To Cut Butter into Flour

How To Cut Butter into Flour

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

4 different ways to cut butter into flour for recipes like pie crusts or biscuits. The 4th way on this list is my all time favorite kitchen tips is this trick for cutting butter into flour!

Ingredients

  • Butter
  • Flour

Instructions

Food Processor

  1. Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon sized slices.
  2. Add the flour and cold butter to the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Pulse the mixture until you have a crumb like mixture.
  4. Proceed with your recipe as instructed.

Two Knives

  1. Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon sized slices.
  2. Add the flour and cold butter to a bowl.
  3. Use two knives and literally cut the butter into the flour until you have little tiny bits of butter.
  4. Proceed with your recipe as instructed.

Pastry Blender

  1. Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon sized slices.
  2. Add the flour and cold butter to the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Use a pastry blender which ultimately works pretty similar to the knife method but is easier.
  4. Proceed with your recipe as instructed.

Cheese Grater

  1. Freeze the butter you plan to use in the recipe.
  2. Then, grate the butter using a box cheese grater.
  3. After you have grated all of the butter you plan to use, mix the cold, grated butter into the flour mixture.
  4. After you’ve mixed it all up, stick the bowl of the flour and butter mixture in the freezer for a few minutes to get the butter really, really cold again.
  5. Finally, proceed with the rest of the recipe according to the instructions.

Notes

The cheese grater method is my favorite way to cut butter into flour! It works great for me this way, but it certainly isn’t the only method that works. I do think it’s faster than cutting with a pastry cutter and definitely has less clean up than a food processor.

All of these methods require the butter to be cold when you start or you'll end up with very soft butter in the end which doesn't work well for making pie crusts and other flaky doughs.

The cheese grater method works the best when the butter is frozen so it stays cold as you grate it, otherwise the butter could become too soft.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1 tablespoon butter
Amount Per Serving Calories 102 Total Fat 12g Saturated Fat 7g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 3g Cholesterol 31mg Sodium 91mg Carbohydrates 0g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 0g Sugar 0g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 0g
GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Favorite Kitchen Tips