Garlic butter and herb butter are but two sublime examples of the beauty of compound butters. Incredibly easy to make, flavored butter adds a huge boost of deliciousness to simple grilled or roasted meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, and bread. And sweet compound butter works similar wonders on toast, pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast treats.
You can mix pretty much anything you like into your flavored butter: fresh herbs, ground spices (or spice blends), citrus zest and other aromatics (ginger, lemongrass, lavender)…we have several ideas below, but half the fun is coming up with your own inventions. You can even blend a bit of pepperoni into butter for a meaty, spicy bite. Or mash in soft, sweet caramelized onions. Don’t forget cheese.
How to Make Compound Butter
- Start with unsalted butter so you can control the amount of sodium in your finished compound butter.
- Let it soften at room temperature so it’s easier to work with.
Once softened, there are a few different ways to make compound butter:
- Use a mini food processor first to chop the herbs, then process with the butter. (And to get every last bit of goodness, Caroline1 likes to wipe out the bowl with a piece of bread, a cook’s treat.)
- Use a rubber spatula to mix herbs or other flavorings into softened butter in a small bowl.
- Drop softened butter and aromatics into a zip-top bag, seal, and knead with your hands until combined, then scrape out the flavored butter and discard the bag.
How to Store Compound Butter
Once your ingredients are thoroughly mixed into your butter, roll it into logs and wrap in plastic film or waxed paper, then store for a week or so in the fridge, or freeze (this makes it easier to slice, similar to cookie dough logs).
Savory Compound Butter Recipes
Classic garlic butter is only the beginning.
You might expect chives in a compound butter, but blue cheese blends seamlessly into the mix too. This is particularly great on steak, and/or baked potatoes. Get our Blue Cheese and Chive Compound Butter recipe.
A simple blend of butter and mustard makes a marvelous topper for blackened seafood or roasted veggies; but try other types of mustard to change up the flavor. Get our Creole Mustard Butter recipe.
We couldn’t neglect the classic—adding parmesan and fresh parsley along with the minced garlic boosts the butter into heavenly territory, on bread or otherwise. Get our Garlic Butter recipe.
You can even work a bit of booze into your compound butter; here, a couple teaspoons of tequila join minced jalapeño and fresh lime juice for a zesty Mexican flair. Try it on salmon as well as steak. Get our Chile-Lime-Tequila Compound Butter recipe.
More of a wine aficionado? Use the same amount of a nice Chianti in butter for bathing a juicy steak or simple roasted chicken—or use it to roast meaty mushrooms until golden-brown. Get our Chianti Butter recipe.
Perhaps the easiest of all herb butters, this one simply mixes a fine chiffonade of basil into the softened dairy, plus a sprinkle of sea salt. Corn has never been better, but this is also great on fish and meat. Get our Basil Butter recipe.
A simple spritz of citrus and a twist or two of pepper are never a bad idea—though with compound butter, citrus zest is best since juice can make things too loose and liquidy. Get our Lemon-Pepper Compound Butter recipe.
This one could honestly skew sweet or savory with its blend of warm spices and sweet-but-smoky molasses. Try it on pork, baked sweet potatoes, or a stack of pancakes. Get our Molasses Clove Compound Butter recipe.
Sweet Compound Butter Recipes
Perfect for your morning toast or afternoon tea piece of pound cake; great on pancakes and waffles too!
Fragrant vanilla bean seeds and sprightly orange zest combine in a swoon-worthy sweet compound butter that almost obviates the need for maple syrup on your waffles. Pro tip: Try it on sourdough waffles for an ever better flavor contrast. Get our Vanilla Bean Orange Butter recipe.