In search of the best salted butters available for retail in Singapore, we tried a whopping 22 brands of salted butters. We really combed through the aisles/websites of the major supermarket chains and other independent gourmet stores to find as many as possible to try.
It was quite an eye-opener too. We hadn’t realised just how staggering the breadth and depth of options there are for us butter lovers in Singapore. We were also pleasantly surprised that Singapore actually has a handful of salted butters with sea salt flakes, as well as raw milk butters! For the purpose of this taste test, we stuck to only salted butters to keep a level playing field. But we definitely hope to delve into these subsets another time!
PS. We weren’t specifically aiming for a Top 10 list. We were just shortlisting the salted butters we love so that was a cool coincidence.
How we conducted our taste test
We cut a slice of cold salted butter and slapped it on warm, freshly toasted bread. We used good ol’ sliced multigrain bread. Because we realised that as much as we love sourdough, it’s the readily available stuff we actually end up eating more often. The rationale? If it’s great on sliced bread, it can only be even better on good sourdough or <<insert preferred choice of bread>> right?
Our top 10 picks… in random order
Pepe Saya Australian Organic Salted Butter [Editor’s pick]
$11.98 for 200g, available from Little Farms
There’s a nice distinctive sourness at the beginning, which made for a rather interesting entrance. The texture was great too. We liked the creaminess, and that the butter held up well on the toast yet dissolved readily on the palate. The tricky thing is, once the butter’s on your tongue, it disappears almost too quickly so you don’t get to really savour it. This makes it oddly addictive since you’ll want to keep reaching out for more to grasp the flavours.
True Organic Australian Origin Salted Butter [Editor’s pick]
$9.98 for 250g, available from Little Farms
Lots of love for this one, starting with that gorgeous pale lemon yellow hue. Some salted butters need to be left out for a while to let the flavours open up, but this one is ready to go. Its satiny smooth texture is quite dreamy, and the butter melts so easily and cleanly on the palate. The salty kick shows up only towards the end, and it’s just right – nuanced and flavourful without being overpowering.
Elle & Vire Salted Butter
From $5.50 for 200g, available from Redmart, Cold Storage, FairPrice
Our favourite supermarket (well okay, for some of us) brand held its own pretty well alongside some of the fancy brands: Good flavour, smooth texture and a medium richness that offered body without being cloying.
It’s not #mindblown wonderful – it’s not as complex as the True Organic one, and the saltiness in the finish is also a teeny bit sharper than the top three – but it’s a well-above-average reliable option that offers great value and widespread availability.
Le Gall Beurre de Baratte Fleur de Sel de Guérande (Le Gall Drum-Churned Sea Salt Butter)
From $5.85 for 250g, available from Redmart, Cold Storage
The character of the sea salt really came through beautifully for this one. There’s a subtle but discernible salty whiff of sea water (yes some of us like to nose our butter too!) and the butter dissolves steadily on the palate for a long-drawn brininess that lets you slowly savour the sea salt flakes. There’s no disputing the flavour complexity, yet there’s a certain softness to the finish that makes this butter seem rather elegant.
It’s not perfect though. Although the crunch of the salt flakes made for great textural play, the flakes weren’t very evenly distributed and some in the team find that sudden burst of saltiness a bit too strong for their liking. That said, it might be worth giving this a go with something like dark rye bread to balance out the butter’s characteristic.
Président La Motte aux Cristaux de Sel (President Butter Mound Sea Salt Butter)
$8.80 for 250g, available from Redmart
To be honest, that kiddy packaging didn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but it’s a case of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Those flecks of sea salt were more evenly distributed and finer than Le Gall’s, so that was a nice middle-ground for everyone. An unexpected whisper of pepperiness made for an interesting complexity. But it’s quite rich and because it melts so quickly, it came across as too heavy for some of us.
That odd, globular shape was actually quite easy to handle. We found that we managed to achieve thinner ribbons of butter with this than with the conventional block. But if you’re the type who likes things neat and orderly, it can be annoying. It’s harder to wrap the foil layer around the butter, the plastic cover sometimes pop off if you’re not too careful, and that awkward shape is terrible for storage.
Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter – Salted
From $5.45 for 227g, available from Redmart, Cold Storage
Other butters, the French ones especially, might stick to a mellow profile with glints of cultured tanginess – perhaps in an assertion of their sophisticated butter-churning techniques. However, Kerrygold is an unabashed embrace of its fresh milk character. It’s ultra-creamy and rich – so much so that we instinctively conjured up idyllic visions of Ireland’s rolling hills and lush pastures. Yet even with this fullness in flavour and texture, it wasn’t cloying. The saltiness is also slow-building, which might give it broader appeal if there are kids in the picture. But seriously, that gold foil packaging is so tacky we would have passed this up – except, journalistic rigour.
Yeo Valley Organic Salted Butter [Editor’s pick]
$9.95 for 250g, available from Redmart
If the pastel yellow hue is any indication, understated charm seems to be overarching theme for this salted butter from Yeo Valley (d’uh) in the UK. There’s elegance to its mellow creaminess and floral undertones, and we’re very fond of its pleasant saltiness too. It’s really rather delicate, so you’ll probably want to splash out on quality bread for this one, and have your toast unadorned except for a thin slab of butter.
Organic Times Organic Salted Butter
$9.95 for 250g, available from Redmart
We tried out quite a number of Aussie butter brands and we’ve been so excited because the idea of grass-fed butter sounded so enticing. As it turns out, grass-fed butter and us weren’t meant to be. While grass-fed beef is known to have a more robust beefy flavour, grass-fed butter tasted more like… wheatgrass-infused butter. Take it from us – it’s really quite an acquired taste.
We’d struck off so many from our list that we were skeptical about this salted butter from Organic Times too. Thankfully, it struck a happy medium. There’s still that faint whiff of fresh meadows – think lively rather than punchy – and a delightfully smooth texture. What we weren’t too thrilled about was the saltiness – it’s a bit harsh and flat, even though the ingredient list purports to use table salt. Still, it’s well worth a try.
Grand Fermage Beurre Demi Sel aux Cristaux de Sel de Noirmoutier (Grand Fermage Salted Butter) [Editor’s pick]
$4.55 for 125g, from Redmart
It’s a mouthful of a name, but it’s reassuring that Grand Fermage is so proud of the provenance of its sea salt, it’s eager to shout out that the salt crystals were hand-harvested from Noirmoutier, a tidal French island facing the Atlantic. And this incredibly silky butter is indeed studded with large flakes of sea salt for crunchy bursts of flavour. It’s very similar to Le Gall, but just that bit daintier, more elegant. That said, it also shares the same tricky issue – for these butters with salt crystals, you’ve got to be really fond of that briny jolt to appreciate it.
Echire Beurre de Baratte d’Excellence (Echire Salted Butter)
From $4.35 for 100g, available from Redmart, Cold Storage, FairPrice Finest
Echire. One of the most lauded, esteemed butter in the world. It’s the kind of butter that restaurants like to tout; the kind of butter that pastry chefs recommend for baking; the kind of butter you name-drop for cachet.
But you know what? We have very mixed feelings about this. We’ve heard so much, and we’ve been so excited about it that we might have set up too high expectations. It was good but it didn’t prove to be a clear winner (or clear top three for that matter). It was more like, “hmm yeah it’s not bad, but uh what’s the hype about?” Anyway. On to the taste. The flavours were subtle with a faint tanginess, and the saltiness blooms only towards the finish. Overall, it’s rather muted – almost too light and restrained – for some of us.
Other notes a.k.a. why your favourite brand isn’t listed
As mentioned early on in the introduction, we’d put in our best effort to try just about all the salted butter brands available in Singapore. However, unfortunately, some things just weren’t fated.
For instance, we’ve been eyeing the butter from Pascal Beillevaire but it’s been perpetually out-of-stock. We’re also hugely optimistic, based on our personal experiences, that Bordier would be a shoo-in but alas, the only place that used to stock Bordier butters (i.e. Secrets Fine Food) shuttered late last year, and the distributor has no firm dates on when that brand will be available again.
We were also quite keen on trying Japanese butters (FYI, they’re pretty much all on RedMart so you don’t even need to make a trip to Isetan!) but – and this is a major ‘but’ – they were a major letdown. Somehow, all the Japanese ones we tried either had a synthetic blandness, or some inexplicable, unpleasant fridge-like odour to them. Mind you, the butters were almost all delivered to the same address and stored together, so it seems like the issue is inherent in the individual butters.
That said, we’re eternal optimists so if another brand of Japanese butter – or any other salted ones we didn’t try – were to come our way, we’re still game for updating the story.
Redmart turned out to be the most comprehensive treasure trove for salted butters, thanks to its affiliation with many independent gourmet grocers. Both Cold Storage and FairPrice (the website is sparse but the stores seem to stock more options) offered a pretty good selection too, whereas Little Farms differentiated itself by (mostly) sticking to butters from Australia.
Photos by Chelza Pok