Compound Butters – Adding Things to Butter to Make it Extra Awesome

Compound butters are a lazy cook's secret weapon. They're a way to add intense flavor to preparations without a whole lot of extra effort. I've included a list of favorites here.

Compound Butters – Adding Things to Butter to Make it Extra Awesome

I thought we could do a dive into compound butters today. Compound butters are a lazy cook's secret weapon. They're a way to add intense flavor to preparations without a whole lot of extra effort. They also freeze really well, earning them bonus points as far as I'm concerned. Thaw, stir, and you've got a powerful flavor accent at your disposal. To make a compound butter you incorporate ingredients into a butter base. As much as I love good butter, I also can't help but constantly ask myself - what can I add to this butter to make it extra awesome? I've included a few recent favorites here, and I'll also mention a few things to think about for when you set out to try out your own ideas.
An assortment of compound butters on a counter

Compound Butter Ideas & Variations

The range of possible compound butters is limited only by your imagination. Here are a few past favorites to get you thinking, but please think of them as jumping off points! Have fun and experiment.
Roasted Strawberry Ginger Compound Butter in a small bowl
Roasted Strawberry Ginger Compound Butter

Roasted Strawberry Ginger Compound Butter:
Let's kick things off with a sweet compound butter. I make it on occasion during strawberry season using strawberries I've roasted and cooled. Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Transfer to a bowl and old in 1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, 3 tablespoons chopped candied ginger, 15 chopped candied pecans, and a couple teaspoons of runny honey. Stir until everything comes together and then loosely fold in about 1/4 cup roasted strawberries. Great with: brunch.

Lemon Miso Bowl in a small serving bowl
Lemon Miso Compound Butter

Lemon Miso Compound Butter
:
Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Pulse in 1 tablespoon miso, zest of one lemon (or yuzu), 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Taste and adjust if needed. Fold in 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds. Great on: brown rice bowls, roasted delicate squash, sautéed vegetables, baked potatoes, roasted tomatoes.

Saffron Date Compound Butter in a small serving bowl
Saffron Date Compound Butter

Saffron Date Compound Butter:
Add 1 pinch of saffron threads in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, allow to sit for five minutes. Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Pulse in 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt. Add the saffron-almond extract mixture, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl regularly. Pulse in five plump dates, leaving them a bit chunky. Great on: hot oatmeal, flatbreads, sautéed greens.

Garlic Green Olive Compound Butter in a Small Serving Bowl
Green Garlic Olive Compound Butter

Garlic Green Olive Compound Butter:
Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Pulse in 1 large clove of peeled garlic, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Start with 1/8 teaspoon, but add more if you like. Pulse in a dozen plump green olives that you have pitted, rinsed, and dried in a clean towel. I like to squeeze the olives between my palms to rid them of as much olive water as possible before pulsing them in. Great on: pasta, polenta, a wide range of vegetables, it's easy magic.

callion Dill Compound Butter in a small serving bowlScallion Dill Compound Butter

Scallion Dill Compound Butter:
Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Pulse in a scant 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, a large clove of garlic (or 1 head of trimmed green garlic), 2 scallions, and a handful of fresh dill you've de-stemmed. Pulse well here, until everything blends together into a vibrant, electric green butter. Great on: just about everything - grilled asparagus, to finish sautéed mushrooms, perfect on corn later in the year, or cornbread. Also, biscuits, polenta, rice bowls, potatoes, egg salad. It's incredibly versatile.
An assortment of compound butters on a counter

More Compound Butter Recipes!

Dry Desert Lime Compound Butter: I've been playing around quite a bit lately using tea as a seasoning. Many times I'll grind up tea leaves in a mortar and pestle and use it the way you might use a pepper. The fragrance that comes off the ground leaves is wonderful and brings an unexpected element to many preparations. Depending on the tea I am using this can range from smoky to floral to fresh and bright. In this case I choose a dried lime tisane (or herbal tea) instead. There is something haunting, vibrant and ancient in the taste of dried lime and I thought it might lend itself nicely to a compound butter for use on a range of foods like: sweet potatoes (mashed/roasted), grilled corn, or as a spread on sandwiches, etc. To make: 4 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, room temperature 1 or 2 Numi Desert Lime tea bags (depending on how strong you want it), cut open and the contents ground in a mortar and pestle 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt. Combine in a small bowl and refrigerate.

Freeze-Dried Strawberry Compound Butter: Freeze-dried fruit is quite common now. You can get strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and pineapple. Crush and chop these strawberries, whip them into butter and you get a textured, color-flecked spread perfect for pancakes, toast, muffins and the like. The strawberries are on the very tart side of sweet so I sweetened this one up with a bit of sugar - I used Florida Crystals because I didn't want a browner sugar to impact its bright color. To make:  4 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, room temperature 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar, 1/3 cup dehydrated organic strawberries, minced. Combine in a small bowl and refrigerate.

Raw Serrano Compound Butter: This one is for the cornbreads of the world. It has a little heat and a lot of flavor. I used 2 medium serrano chiles, but you can scale up or down on the chile scale depending on your tastes. A pretty pale green butter flecked with dark green freckles I'm also love it on crepes, and grilled corn, and to toss fresh summer shell beans, and for pasta. I think a great variation on this one would be to add roasted garlic and pan-toast the chiles before blending them in. To make: 4 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, room temperature 2 serrano chiles, deveined and seeded, loosely chopped plus 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt. Combine in a small bowl and puree with a hand blender until the chiles are fully incorporated. Refrigerate.

Smoked Paprika Compound Butter: Fragrant, delicious, and a stunning rusty-orange color a little of this butter goes the distance. It will lend itself nicely to brown rice, certain kabobs, sandwiches, corn soup, toasted artisan breads, and zucchini muffins. To make: 4 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, room temperature 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika plus 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt Combine in a small bowl and refrigerate.

Let me know if you come up with any special butters we should know about. Keep in mind, compound butters are a great way to use up smaller quantities of herbs, spices, the odd clove of garlic, the bottom of the jar of sun-dried tomatoes, or capers. Melted, many are great on your favorite pancakes or homemade popcorn. They also freeze really well. I recommend freezing in small quantities, so you can easily pull just enough for a couple of days use. One other tip - concentrated ingredients with little moisture work best. For example, roasted strawberries versus fresh strawberries. Orange zest versus orange segments. Have fun! -h

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Compound Butters: Lemon Miso Compound Butter

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5 from 1 vote

Ingredients
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Use a food processor to whip the butter until fluffy. Pulse in the miso, lemon zest, cayenne, cumin, and salt. Taste and adjust if needed. Fold in the sesame seeds.

  2. Serve on brown rice bowls, roasted delicata squash, baked potatoes, sautéed vegetables, roasted tomatoes.

Notes

Makes 1/3 cup.

Serves
8
Prep Time
5 mins
 
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

Butter (or oil) is also the best way to preserve the flavor of fresh herbs! Just follow the directions for scallion dill butter above. When I have to buy a larger quantity than I need, and also at the end of the growing season, this is what I do. Flavors are much more vibrant than if you dry them.

claudia

I've tried many ways to preserve the leaves of coriander (cilantro), but none of them convey the right taste, or any taste at all! Perhaps this would work? Has anyone ever tried coriander butter?

Marsha

Wow what lovely ones... I usually love compound butters with waffles or pancakes -- one that I make a lot of walnut + maple syrup + caramel and another is with garlic + chives + coriander. These new ones will make a lovely addition to my repertoire.

Niketa

it was your luscious and inviting photos of compound butters that first lured me into your kitchen 10 years ago, heidi. really, they looked so much like ice cream that i wanted to lick my computer screen!!! these look even more delectable. thank you so much for making delicious treats like these the norm in my life!!!

I never thought about making compound butter to use up herbs or those pesky little bits left at the bottom of misc jars, etc. The Scallion Dill butter sounds amazing! I think it would be great on salmon. Brynn

Is there anything butter can't do?! I'm digging your combinations, especially green olive business--yum!

Fantastic post! I always loved mint butter so much but hadn't thought to experiment much further, I suppose because I don't eat butter, but there are alternatives and you are so right, what a wonderful and easy way to pack in flavour. I feel inspired!! x

I love a nice tasty compound butter! The strawberry one sounds particularly luscious - I can just imagine that on a lovely warm piece of toast.

What is the bright yellow butter in the photo?

Giselle

I almost always have a compound butter in my fridge. They are lifesavers when it comes to making veggies sing.

How wonderful! I've only ever made an occasional garlic butter to serve alongside pasta. Aside from that, I will say that I HAVE made a roasted strawberry butter. I served it with a chocolate bread that I served at a potluck, once. :)

Great ideas! I confess I love good butter too. Never tried any of the combinations here, I'm quite curious, specially the saffron date one. Also, just got your new book and it is an absolute pleasure to read. thank you :)

These look like fun to try! How many dates should I use in the saffron date butter?

HS: Hi Amy - about five...or to whatever "density" you like ;)....

Amy

Funny, I'm working on a post about Molasses Butter, which may be my all-time favorite. What great ideas you've got above; food for thought for this weekend's biscuits.

Rivka

I have been following your site for a long time and have tried many recipes and told many people about it, but this is the first time I have commented. The options with butters is amazing! Think: " flavored oils" but with other degree of intensity. I worked in a restaurant once in which we often had steak specials served with Lobster compound butter on top... so they need not be limited to herbs as long as the pieces of whatever ingredient are semi dry and smallish. I did a clam butter once that I served with garlic bread- yummy!

Lauren Yarema

I've make compound butters, but these combinations are new. Especially roasted strawberries. How intriguing! Now I just have to wait for strawberry season....we can get them already from Spain or Morocco, but I hold out for the organic French ones, with so much more flavor.

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