What on Earth is a Knob of Butter?!

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What Actually is it & how to Measure a Knob Of Butter

knob of butter

Not all cooks are the same; some cooks do things instinctively while some measure ingredients more precisely.

A knob of butter is used by those cooks who cook by eye. However, when it comes to baking, precise measurement of ingredients has too much importance.

So this approach works well for cooking only. In culinary circles, a knob of butter is generally used in those recipes where precision is not vital.

It is often used in cooking when referring to the amount of butter needed to grease a pan. You may see that a small or large knob of butter is required to make some recipes. This is a kind of judgment call when you need to use that amount of butter in such recipes.

You may be confused with such terminology that is generally used in recipes. You may also be curious how much is a knob of butter and how to measure it. Whether you want to know what’s a knob of butter or how to measure it accurately, you are in the right place.

Let’s decode this infamous phrase together and talk about its origin and measurement methods.

Are you ready? Let’s get into it!

What is a knob of butter?

What is a knob of butter is a common question that most people who love cooking want to know.

A knob of butter is a term that is used in cooking and refers to an arbitrary amount of butter. It is used when a precise amount of butter is not necessary for the recipe. In some cases, the recipe may instruct you to use a dollop of butter instead of a knob of butter.

A knob of butter can be around two tablespoons or an unspecified amount of butter. It is accepted that it can be the amount of butter that is needed to cover the size of a skillet or the pan when melted.

It is usually cut at the end of the butter stick without measuring it.

Some people compare it to about two tablespoons, and some say it is equal to the size of a thumb. It is basically a lump of butter that is used to coat the skillet or pan.

A small knob or large knob is usually referred to in some recipes. It means that a generous dollop or a little amount of butter. It could be between one to four tablespoons. However, a tiny knob of butter might be half teaspoon. If you want to measure a knob of butter, it would be between one to two tablespoons.

Most cooks are likely to add tons of butter to every dish, especially at the end of cooking.

portions of butter

It is because of making things taste better and richer. However, you should not add a little too much butter because it is meant to melt. If we talk about how many calories a knob of butter has, the simple answer is about 200 calories. One tablespoon of butter has about 100 calories.

A knob of butter is about two tablespoons with about 200 calories, similar to two medium-sized bananas.

How to measure a knob of butter?

Most people believe that better is the best form of fat to use in cooking, spreading and baking.

One of the most common questions people have when it comes to the knob of butter is how to measure it.

Unlike baking, where proper measurement is a vital part of good baking, cooking is not required precision. You can put an eyeballed amount of ingredients in the dish like a knob of butter, a pinch of salt etc.

If you have all ingredients to make the perfect lunch for your family, but when you begin measurement, you read that add eyeball amount of butter or sufficient amount of butter to the recipe.

How could you figure out how much an eyeballed amount or sufficient amount is?

Let’s talk about some methods to measure a knob of butter.

Cut the butter into tablespoon sections

Remember one rule of thumb when you are going to measure a knob of butter.

Measure about 12 to 25 grams of butter which is around one to two tablespoons of butter. You need to judge whether you need a tiny knob or a large knob of butter to put in your dish.

You can cut the butter into tablespoon sections to take a knob of butter that you need in cooking. Cut your butter stick into two halves.

Now cut each half in half and then again cut the quarter section in half. You have now eight sections, and each section is equal to one tablespoon. For a knob of butter, you can take two sections. This is the easiest way to cut butter sticks into tablespoon sections.

spoonful of butter

Check the sides of the butter wrapper for measurements

You may see the measurement printed on the wrapper of the butter sticks. This can help your measure out butter for cooking.

Check all sides of the butter wrapper to see the marking lines. If you see the marking lines, then each section is equal to the one tablespoon of butter.

Standard butter sticks come with 120ml or eight tablespoons of butter, but reconfirm the number of tablespoons in your butter stick.

What's the history behind it?

You may be curious about the history behind this infamous term that is widely used in cookbooks. This term is a holdover from the centuries-old cookbooks written for people who already knew about cooking and possessed some cooking skills as well.

These cookbooks assumed that readers knew how to eyeball amounts like ‘knob’ or ‘gill’ to give them a rough idea of the amount.

The shorthand term of eyeball amount is a knob which is measured between one to two tablespoons or about ½ cup.

That’s why in these cookbooks, precise measurements of ingredients are rarely written. This assumption may have been true in the 1800s, but it doesn’t hold in modern ages. But don’t worry, you have the Internet.

butter in a jar
Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!