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Here’s how to make compound butter: a simple way to add bold, rich flavor to dishes! Use it on bread, steak, seafood and more.

Compound Butter

Want a trick to take any food from meh to spectacular? Try homemade Compound Butter! This French technique for adding rich, savory herbaceous flavor to dishes is most well known for topping steak. But you can use it for any number of things! Try it as a spread for crusty bread, put a pat on salmon, or even melt it into pasta as a makeshift sauce. It’s easy to make in advance and will wow everyone, especially when you’re entertaining! The savory pop of compound butter on a piece of crusty bread is out of this world is perfection.

How to make compound butter

Compound butter is a softened butter that’s mixed with flavorings like herbs, spices, and salt. It’s traditionally part of French cuisine and can be eaten as a sauce or spread for bread, crackers, vegetables, steak, seafood, and more. Compound butter is very simple to make at home: it takes just a few minutes and is easy to make in advance. Here are the basic steps:

  • Soften the butter. Cut the butter in half lengthwise, then into about 12 pieces total. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes until softened.
  • Mix with seasonings. Place the butter in a bowl. Add the herbs and seasonings, then smash and stir the butter until everything is fully combined.
Compound Butter

How to form compound butter into a log

Compound butter is traditionally rolled into a log shape for storage, similar to a stick of butter. While you can store it in a dish, it’s easiest to shape it into a log so you can cut off pieces to use in recipes. Here’s what to do:

  • Use plastic wrap for shaping. Place the butter on a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, then use the wrap to roll it into a log shape. You may need to do it a few times to get the ideal shape. There’s no right or wrong way to shape it, so shape as desired.
  • Twist the ends and store. Twist the ends closed and refrigerate the compound butter until it’s solid enough to cut (or until serving). To speed up the cooling process, pop it in the freezer for a minutes until solid.

Flavor variations

The compound butter recipe below is our favorite classic flavor: fresh chives, thyme, and garlic powder make an herbaceous, salty and savory spread! But if you’re looking for a few more flavors, we’ve got them! Here are a few fun ideas for making different types of compound butter:

  • Lemon butter: Mix in 1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest and scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Basil Parmesan butter: Mix in ¼ cup grated Parmesan, ¼ cup chopped basil, and scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Smoked paprika butter: Mix in 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 2 tablespoons chopped chives and scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Lemon thyme butter: Mix in 1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest, 2 tablespoons chopped thyme, and scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Rosemary butter: Mix in 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary and scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Honey butter: Add 1 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon chopped thyme and scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Compound Butter

Storage info

How to store homemade compound butter? While you might normally store butter at room temperature, with the added flavorings it’s best to opt for the refrigerator.

  • Store compound butter refrigerated for up to 1 month.
  • Store compound butter in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow to defrost at room temperature before using.

Ways to use compound butter

There are infinite ways to use compound butter, but our favorite is simple. Use it as a tasty appetizer with a crusty bread. It wows everyone without fail, and feels much fancier than it is! Try adding it to a cheese or charcuterie board for maximum wow factor. Here are a few ways to use compound butter:

Compound Butter

More with butter

Everything’s better with butter, right? Here are a few more tasty recipes where butter is the star:

This compound butter recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

Print
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Compound Butter

Easy Compound Butter


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: ½ cup butter 1x

Description

Here’s how to make compound butter: a simple way to add bold, rich flavor to dishes! Use it on bread, steak, seafood and more.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 grinds black pepper

Instructions

  1. Soften the butter: cut the butter in half lengthwise, then into about 12 pieces total. Let the butter sit at room temperature about 15 minutes until softened. Or, microwave on low power for a few 5 second bursts until it softens, checking after each burst and taking care not to overheat*.
  2. Place the butter in a bowl. Add the chopped chives, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Smash and stir into the butter until it’s fully combined.
  3. Use immediately, or if desired, place the butter on a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper and use the wrap to roll it into a log. Twist the ends closed and refrigerate until it’s solid enough to cut (or until serving; you can freeze it for a few minutes to speed up the process). The flavor is great right away, and gets even better after refrigeration. Use for spreading on bread, making garlic bread, pasta, seafood, steak, potatoes, and more. Stores up to 1 month refrigerated or 3 months frozen. 

Notes

*The microwave method is touchy and cooks unevenly. Be careful that you don’t overheat the butter! Typically we don’t recommend a microwave for softening butter, but since it’s not being used in a baked good, this technique works as a quick fix.

  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Butter
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Compound butter

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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