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What Makes Irish Butter Different Than American Butter?

A block of butter is sliced into and sitting on a wooden cutting board.
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When grocery shopping, there’s no shortage of butter types. From flavored iterations to substitutions like margarine, you’ve got choices. That includes Irish butter.

But what makes Irish butter different than American butter? Yes, there is a difference, and it’s just their places of origin.

Irish butter is European butter that’s high in butterfat (the fat found in cream) and bright yellow. Fresh cream is churned until it reaches 82% butterfat, the percentage required for European butter. The color, however, is specifically Irish. It’s from the beta-carotene found in the Irish grass the cows eat. Plus, Irish butter is often salted and uncultured.

AISBUGUR Large Butter Dish with Lid

Keep your butter easily accessible with a butter dish.

In terms of differences between Irish and American butter, typical kinds of butter in America are sweet cream-based and have higher water content. This makes them less spreadable and less flavorful. American butter is also 80% butterfat, a bit under the Irish kind.

Irish butter, however, doesn’t have the same grading standards as American butter. When you shop for American butter, it’s rated AA to B based on attributes like flavor, color, taste, and smell. Irish butter doesn’t have those same systems in place—at least not ones that are well-known.

Ultimately, your butter choice is your own, but if you’re looking for rich, robustly flavored, spreadable butter, you might want to pick up some Kerrygold.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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