7 Butter Brands You Should Buy, And 7 You Shouldn't

Butter is among the grocery store items that experienced a massive price surge in 2022. In the fall, reports showed that inflation and other factors caused the cost of this dairy product to rise by around 32%. Since your butter may be costing more these days, you may want to know a little more about it. A good place to start is by looking at different butter brands.

Typically, there are several butter options in your dairy aisle. From unsalted butter to margarine to cultured butter, deciding between each of these selections — and the brands that make them — can be overwhelming. Luckily for you, we've analyzed some of the most common butter brands in American grocery stores.

The ones we'd recommend are beloved for their taste, versatility, and (sometimes) sustainability. The ones we wouldn't take to the checkout are typically fake butter products like margarine or buttery spreads, as well as other items with lower-quality ingredients that produce a worse taste. To discover seven butter brands you should buy and seven butter brands you shouldn't, read on.

Do buy: Kerrygold

Kerrygold is a butter brand whose reputation precedes it. To discover the fanaticism surrounding this company, look no further than this Reddit thread discussing the best butter brands. "Give me Kerrygold or give me death," "Kerrygold is one of the best brands in US supermarkets," and "I use Kerrygold because it's the best I can get in my area" are comments from some of the butter brand's biggest supporters on the thread.

People appreciate this butter for its flavor, which is often described as richer and creamier than less expensive grocery store brands. Since the company uses minimal ingredients, Kerrygold butter's unique taste is sometimes credited to the company's grass-fed Irish cows — with emphasis on the grass part. The brand claims that Ireland's weather allows for grass to flourish year-round. The company's cows are then provided with a large amount of food and time to graze on it outdoors.

This butter brand's richness and creaminess are also attributed to its fat content. Per the brand, it has a higher butterfat content. Irish (and other European) kinds of butter, like Kerrygold, usually have a minimum of 82% butterfat, whereas American butter usually has a minimum of 80% (via Nellie's Free Range). Additional complexity in Kerrygold's taste may come from the fact that the brand's unsalted butter is cultured. You can think of this type of butter as somewhat fermented, sometimes giving it a tangier taste.

Do buy: Plugrá

Due to the sophisticated-seeming name and packaging, you may think that Plugrá is a European butter brand — but actually, it's American. According to the Dallas Morning News, Plugrá butter is made by the Dairy Farmers of America. Per the Akron Beacon Journal, this large organization is based in Kansas City, Missouri. Along with Plugrá, the Dairy Farmers of America is responsible for producing other butter brands such as Breakstone's and Hotel Bar — but we think that Plugrá is more noteworthy than these other butters.

Plugrá describes some of its products (on the label) as "European-style" butter. This title comes from the fact that Plugrá's butters are made with 82% butterfat, instead of the standard 80% used in America. The higher amount of butterfat gives it a creamier, richer taste than other brands. 

We recommend buying Plugrá butter, which should be easy enough to find in your grocery store. But if you don't come across it, you can order Plugrá butter on Amazon. There, a few customers raved about its taste. "Incredible for cooking as it is rich and creamy...On toast or rolls, your mouth will love you," wrote one passionate shopper.

Do buy: Cabot

Cabot Creamery was founded in Vermont over a century ago. It began out of a somewhat collective nature through the joining of several local dairy farms into a cooperative. Some of this collaborative energy is still present today through Cabot Creamery's business practices. Per the brand, it was the first American dairy company to become a certified B Corporation, meaning it met (and continues to meet) certain standards that help the company to have a less negative impact on the surrounding environment and community. The brand produces cheese, yogurt, whipped cream, macaroni and cheese, various dips, sour cream, and more — but its line of butter is especially beloved. 

Cabot Creamery's unsalted butter won first place at 2019's U.S. Championship Cheese Contest and 2022's World Dairy Expo Championship. One customer described it as "wonderful sweet tasting, creamy butter that's great as a table spread or in recipes!" The brand's Extra Creamy Premium Butter — which comes in sea salted and unsalted — is made with 83% butterfat, higher than the European standard of 82%. This means it should taste especially rich and satisfying.

Each butter product is also made with minimal ingredients. Usually, Cabot's items contain only cream (from milk), possibly salt, and sometimes natural flavoring. This last ingredient (per Harvard) usually refers to ingredients created through the butter-making process. It's something you'll find on the nutrition labels of various brands. If you're looking for a butter brand to buy from, we'd recommend Cabot Creamery.

Do buy: Vermont Creamery

Vermont Creamery is a dairy brand based in the Northeastern United States. It makes cheese, crème fraîche, sour cream, and butter products. All of Vermont Creamery's butters are cultured, meaning the cream sits to ferment with live, active cultures before being churned. The brand makes both salted and unsalted versions of its cultured butter. Both have won awards, like the Bronze medal at the 2022 World Dairy Expo Champion Cheese Contest and the 3rd place prize at the 2022 American Cheese Society awards.

Along with both kinds of butter being made with a higher percentage of butterfat (82%), Vermont Creamery's products come with a handful of desirable certifications. Both are certified gluten-free goods that are American-made (in Vermont). Additionally, Vermont Creamery is a certified B Corporation.

Per reviews on the website iGourmet, people love the taste of Vermont Creamery's cultured butter. Of the salted cultured butter, one person said, "It is wonderful, it really makes your lobster so much better." Another customer wrote, "This butter has a unique flavor – a little bit sour, which modulates the other butter flavors wonderfully."

Do buy: Président

Président, a French brand that is over 75 years old, is beloved for its many dairy products, including its butter (unsalted and salted). It also produces a product called Sea Salt Butter that's designed for pairing with savory meals and used as a table butter. In addition, Président produces an item called Spreadable Butter, which comes in a tub-shaped container. This packaging allows customers to easily reach in and scoop out a knife-full of butter, perfect for smearing onto a baguette or slice of toast.

All of these products are made from only a few simple ingredients. Even the Spreadable Butter contains only cream, salt, and cultures. This means you're getting a more wholesome ingredient than those made by some other butter brands. It's also a European product, meaning you can expect a higher butterfat content and a creamier taste than most American butters. This might be why the butter brand is so popular. According to a Statista poll, Président was one of the most popular butter brands in France in 2020.

Not only is this butter company beloved in France, but it has also won awards all over the world. Its unsalted butter was given a gold medal at the 2019 World Dairy Expo Contest. Consumers seem to love this brand for the taste of its cultured, high-butterfat dairy products. As one Reddit user said, "I like Président butter because it has a rich and complex flavor."

Do buy: Lurpak

Lurpak is a Danish dairy brand that specializes in butter. The brand has been in business since 1901, which is quite a long time. Its many years in the butter-making game have enabled it to become a staple in Danish homes, per Hey Explorer. According to the brand, it is sold in more than 95 countries worldwide. Indeed, Lurpak can be found at American grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Like other butter brands we recommend, Lurpak's butters are made from only cream and salt. You'll find additional ingredients in other Lurpak products, like its garlic butter, but not in its standard butters. Lurpak's butters are also cultured, giving them a slightly more complex, aromatic, and tangy flavor than other brands.

If you can't find this Danish butter at your local grocery store, you have the option to order it via Amazon. Many Amazon shoppers were thrilled to recommend Lurpak's Slightly Salted Butter to other customers. "It has a subtle and smooth flavor and you can eat it off the block," wrote one user.

Do buy: Tillamook

Tillamook is an Oregon-based dairy brand that makes cheese, ice cream, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, and butter. The company's butter comes in two varieties: salted and unsalted. Both are made with 81% butterfat, meaning that Tillamook's butter may be slightly more creamy than your average stick. These uncultured butters are made with very few ingredients. The salted version is made with only cream and salt, whereas the unsalted variety contains cream and natural flavoring.

You can find Tillamook's butter at grocery store chains like Kroger. On Influenster, shoppers who purchased Tillamook's Sea Salted Extra Creamy Butter raved about it. "So much creamier than traditional butter. It heightens the flavor and creaminess of every dish," wrote one user. "I use this almost every day for one thing or another," said a reviewer.

Along with excellent reviews regarding taste and the use of minimal ingredients, Tillamook's company practices make us want to recommend them as well. Most importantly, they're a certified B Corporation. Tillamook has even created a Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce the company's greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the year 2050.

Don't buy: Smart Balance

A butter brand we don't recommend is Smart Balance. Smart Balance's buttery spreads are butter substitutes, which usually means something a little different than margarine. As Go Dairy Free explains, these are usually plant-based spreads made from oil, water, and other ingredients that replicate butter but in a healthy, low-cholesterol format.

Smart Balance makes several buttery spreads, which come with product names like Omega-3, Low Sodium, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Original, and Organic. Smart Balance's Original Buttery Spread is made with ingredients like vegetable oil, canola oil, palm oil, water, salt, and many more. While some people may prefer to use buttery spreads to lower cholesterol, others may find issues with certain ingredients used in these products. To touch on just one, Smart Balance uses canola oil, which is a seed oil considered to be potentially harmful to your health by some (via Healthline). Additionally, despite being a so-called "plant-based" product, not all of Smart Balance's buttery spreads are vegan (per Bree's Vegan Life).

People also aren't thrilled about Smart Balance's taste. For Smart Balance Original, more than 2,000 of the current 2,300 reviews on the Smart Balance website give the buttery spread a one-star rating (out of five). Many are unhappy with the current formula. "I've been using the original for years. Recently bought the new formula and it is tasteless," wrote one customer.

Don't buy: I Can't Believe It's Not Butter

This is another butter brand we'd suggest skipping. All of its products are butter substitutes — not butter — meaning they come with replacement ingredients that some people may want to avoid due to health concerns. These include soybean oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil. Additionally, ingredients such as palm oil are often also criticized for their negative environmental impact.

The brand makes several fake butter products, including Original, Light, Original Spray, Baking Sticks, and a Vegan version of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. It's been in business for a while, so the company does have its supporters. But even though this butter substitute brand may taste better than others out there, it still doesn't taste like butter, which is our main criticism regarding its flavor. Some reviewers on ChickAdvisor seem to agree. "It has no dairy taste, No richness, Just oily. I'd rather eat butter," wrote one person. It's creamy, we'll give it that. But you can tell from the artificial yellow color alone that this is not even close to real butter.

Don't buy: Parkay

Parkay is a brand that makes several butter substitute products. One of them, Parkay's Original Spread, is a margarine. Per Merriam-Webster, this means that the product contains skim milk, which is combined with oil and water to create an emulsified buttery spread. This is meant to help customers cut back on cholesterol while also helping manufacturers to save money. Per Diffen, margarine was invented as a cheaper alternative to butter and remains so to this day. But due to the many filler ingredients that you'll find in these products, we'd still recommend buying real butter instead.

Like other margarine or buttery spreads, people can enjoy the taste of Parkay, but they don't necessarily feel it is a sufficient replica of real butter. "This is an interesting product. Works great for popcorn but not much else. Tastes salty not really like butter," wrote one person on Influenster. While they found that Parkay was too salty, others found its artificial appearance to be shockingly yellow-orange. "I would really like it if they would make one without color or white," said someone on Walmart's website.

Don't buy: Imperial

Imperial is a butter substitute known for its sticks. But although these sticks may come in a form similar to real butter, this is not the real thing. Per the Target website, ingredients in Imperial's buttery spread include palm oil, soybean oil, palm kernel oil, whey, potassium sorbate, and other emulsifiers and preservatives. But we'd rather not have this long list of artificial products. Even though some people consider margarine to be a healthier butter alternative, we'd rather buy something that looks, tastes, and behaves like the real thing — i.e., real butter.

One person who reviewed the product on Influenster shared the following: "I've used this butter for cooking most of my life. My mother always used it as well," they wrote of Imperial's buttery spread. This review isn't a criticism or a celebration of the product, but we think it makes an important point. Just because something is a habit doesn't mean it's good to continue. If you branch out and try something new, you may find that real butter tastes richer and is more satisfying.

Don't buy: Country Crock

Country Crock is a company that makes a variety of products, including buttery spreads, plant butter, and plant cream. None of these items are technically real butter, but those that are used most similarly to butter include Country Crock's Original Spread, Light Spread, Churn Spread, Calcium Spread, and Salted Baking Sticks. These products replicate butter through the usual margarine ingredients, like water, soybean oil, palm oil, beta carotene, and even vinegar, according to the nutritional information for Country Crock's Original Buttery Spread.

This product has many supporters and positive reviews. But like other butter substitute companies, Country Crock has received complaints that its items have declined in quality during recent years. These sentiments can be seen in reviews of Country Crock's Original Buttery Spread on the brand's website. "Your product has become inferior in the last couple of years. After a week of opening the container and refrigerating...it becomes moldy," wrote one person. "Please bring back the other recipe because it melts better & doesn't have that foul taste," said another reviewer.

Don't buy: Blue Bonnet

On its website, Blue Bonnet advertises the following slogan: "They bake like butter for less than half the price." This statement encompasses the conundrum with butter substitutes like Blue Bonnet. You'll save money, but what you buy won't be as universally useful or delicious. It's possible that using margarine may work for baking recipes, but what about, say, smearing onto a slice of toast? Without all the added ingredients there to obscure it, as with baking, you will likely be able to taste the artificial nature of these foods.

On Reddit, critics of buttery spreads like those made by Blue Bonnet discussed their gripes. "I don't believe margarine is food," said one user. "To me, it seems more like an industrial lubricant...I hate that greasy mouth feel," said another. "Made my kids mac n cheese with it and it made the whole lot taste like vegetable oil," wrote another person. Indeed, many seem to agree that butter's taste, usefulness in cooking, and natural ingredients make it superior to things like Blue Bonnet.

Don't buy: Great Value

Great Value is Walmart's brand. The company also makes its own butter. Although this is real butter — being made with only cream and salt — it tends to get worse reviews than other brands due to its quality. Complaints cover everything from the butter's inability to spread to its oiliness to its overall flavor. For these reasons, we don't recommend it.

"I don't think there is a significant difference in taste to warrant paying the higher price," wrote someone on Review Stream. This is another product where people's complaints have increased recently in response to a perceived recipe change. "It used to soften perfectly for baking or spreading, NOT anymore. Now, even at room temperature, it will not spread on bread, toasted or not," wrote one user on Walmart's website. "This is our usual brand of butter but recently it is more like wax. It does not stay soft at room temperature anymore," said another disappointed customer.