Compound Butter

Compound Butter Recipe

We use salted Irish butter because it makes everything taste better. You can make any compound butter recipe ahead of time, cover it, and keep it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or freeze them and use them within a month.–Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer

LC Cupid's Little Helper Note

Nothing says love like sharing a magnificent cut of steak beneath a puddle of melting butter. We consider this lovely little compound butter recipe to be like Cupid’s little helper. It demands barely any work on your part, turns things all lovey dovey, and you get to take all the kudos. (Oh, and by “things,” we mean plain old seared chicken cutlets, broiled fish fillets, grilled steak, steamed vegetables, boiled rice, baked potatoes, and the like. You know, the plain sorta stuff you can make without a recipe in 15 minutes flat while you juggle everything else the day is still throwing at you.) Compound butter is magical that way.

Compound Butter Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

  • For the fresh herb butter
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs (use one or a combination of your favorite herbs), minced
  • 1 small shallot or scallion, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the lemon butter
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) salted butter, softened
  • 2 lemons
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the pimentón butter
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) salted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon pimentón (paprika)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the horseradish butter
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) salted butter, softened
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh horseradish root, finely grated, or 2 tablespoons drained prepared horseradish
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Make the fresh herb butter
  • 1. Beat the butter in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Add the herbs, shallot, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Place the mixture on a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and use your hands to roll it into a cylinder. Wrap the compound butter in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm or place in a resealable bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Slice off a little—or a lot—as needed.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Elsa M. Jacobson

Feb 08, 2015

Mmmmmm…butter. I made the herb compound butter recipe first, then the lemon compound butter recipe, and am eagerly looking forward to trying the other compound butter recipes. A half batch, yielding 1/2 cup, was plenty for pre-holiday use, though the option to make some more and freeze it is an appealing time-management maneuver before the craziness of Thanksgiving through the New Year. For the herb compound butter, I used basil because we had it on hand, a scallion, and the optional garlic clove. I envision making this with dill in the near future as well. The uses are numerous, of course—slather on bread, toast, biscuits, bagels, muffins, or scones. My first taste was on a sturdy, dense multigrain, and my first taste of the lemon was on a cherry pecan oat boule. Use on sandwiches—I’m thinking tea sandwiches, open-faced Scandinavian tea sandwiches, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Atop corn bread, quick breads or tea breads. On vegetables, whether steamed or grilled, including broccoli, asparagus, carrots, zucchini, yellow summer squash, green beans, and artichokes. Atop a baked potato or a baked sweet potato. Melted into baked winter squash of any variety—kuri, butternut, spaghetti, acorn, etc. In sautéed vegetables such as succotash, home fries, ranch fries, mushrooms. On corn on the cob. On popcorn! In pasta primavera. Garlic bread for the herb butter. Fry an egg in it. Scramble an egg or make an omelet or a frittata with it. For the horseradish, on matzoh brie! For the lemon, clafouti or pancakes or waffles. Any compound butter recipe could also be made with unsalted butter—you'll just need to be a little more generous with the salt when seasoning to taste.

Testers Choice
Irene Seales

Feb 08, 2015

This fresh-from-your-garden-or-pantry compound butter recipe could make a perfect hostess gift, a surprising taste on a holiday table, or a great treat to pack in the cooler for a ski weekend or getaway. It only takes a few minutes and planning ahead to set the butter out to thoroughly soften. My love of lemons made the first one to try easy. I zested 3 perfect little organic lemons with unblemished skins, used the juice of just 1/2 a lemon, about 1/4 teaspoon Maldon salt, and several grinds black pepper. For travel packing, I used squat Mason jars with a wide lid and a canning funnel to make filling them easy. If I was preparing this for Thanksgiving, I might carefully roll it into a log, and then wrap it in parchment and then plastic wrap. I plan to serve it with a fresh baguette and muffins, or maybe on rice or steaks. Cook's perk—I saved the last bit of compound butter off the spatula and pronounced it delish after schmearing it on a stone-ground wheat cracker. Looking forward to trying the pimentón and horseradish versions. All would be wonderful on baked sweet potatoes or Yukon Golds, as well as on grilled fish or meat. I used Plugrá European style salted butter—handily, it is an 8-ounce package. This was creamy and clean-tasting. I like the flavor better other European-style butters, which I found to be too cheese-like in taste and smell.

Testers Choice
Kim Venglar

Feb 08, 2015

These compound butter recipes take almost no time to put together but will keep a long time in your freezer. I made the lemon compound butter first. The recipe took 5 1/2 minutes to make and had a very nice lemon flavor. I've used it on fish, grilled veggies, and roasted asparagus and received rave reviews. I also made the pimentón butter. This one took 3 1/2 minutes to stir together. I used this one on grilled steaks and swapped out my regular butter for it in my scalloped potatoes. This was the perfect little addition to a great meal. Next time, I plan on using smoked paprika instead of the regular variety.

Testers Choice
Lindsy G.

Feb 08, 2015

If you’re having company over for dinner and want to add a very simple and affordable extra touch to the meal, get to know these compound butters. Compound butter is just butter combined with various flavors, but the combination yields a subtle sophistication that the ingredients by their lonesome might not achieve. I really enjoyed the fresh herb compound butter made with sage from a friend’s garden. I thought that the amount of sage would be overwhelming, but both my tester and I liked this butter the best; all the flavors were very present. As someone who grew up in a household where lemons were as ubiquitous as milk and bread, I also heartily approved of the lemon butter. It’s potent, but the butter seemed to soften the bitterness of the zest, which I normally find a bit off-putting, and it lent a complexity to the dish that I haven’t found when adding butter and lemon juice separately—and I’ve sauced many a dish with lemon and butter. I was less a fan of the pimentón and horseradish butters, as those flavors made the butter too one-note for my liking.

Obviously, the better your butter, the better your compound butter. I’d recommend buying (or making?) a butter of high quality, and then allowing plenty of time for softening before beating it as well as before serving it. (It took at least 10 times as long to initially soften the butter as it did to make any of them.) You may also want to mix all the other ingredients together before adding them to the butter to facilitate a more even dispersion. I ended up trying the butters on homemade country white bread, and then again on pan-seared salmon and steamed green beans. I’d imagine these could find a comfortable home in just about any savory recipe calling for salted butter as an ingredient or a condiment, with the exception perhaps of some baked goods. I used Irish Kerrygold salted butter. I let my butter sit at room temperature (still wrapped) for an hour and a half, and it was still rather hard, so I’d advise readers to allow plenty of time for it to soften. And it was more like mashing the butter, not beating it. It’s probably best to mix all the other ingredients ahead of time, as it was difficult to distribute them evenly since the butter was still a bit firm.

Testers Choice
Martha T.

Feb 08, 2015

I tested the lemon compound butter recipe and used an unsalted butter as the base so that I could better adjust the amount of salt. I used about 1/2 teaspoon for each stick of butter. Once the butter was soft, this was a quick 5-minute recipe. We used this on chicken and broccoli over pasta and it was delicious.

Comments
Comments
  1. Quinn says:

    Horseradish butter!!!!!!

  2. Maralyn Woods says:

    In the very early days of the food network Emeril did a show on compound butters and I’ve been making them ever since then. This was a great post. My favorites are tarragon butter to put on top of a hot steak. Heaven. Also love horseradish butter and garlic, Parmesan, and parsley butter.

  3. nola2chi says:

    Mmmmm, compound butter. When I was 17, I checked out a book from the library on French cooking. In it was a recipe for chicken kiev, I don’t know why. The lemon, parsley, and pepper butter was rolled into a log and frozen. We had lots of flounder fillets so I used them instead of chicken. To serve this crispy browned rolled up thing that oozes it’s own sauce as soon as you cut into it was quite impressive to everyone, including me! I’ve loved compound butters since.

    The blend I use for garlic bread is very well received. Lemon zest, parmesan, ‘gahlik’, black pepper, crushed red chilies, parsley, sometimes a tiny bit of thyme or oregano, depending on what else is going on. Don’t tell: a small spoonful of rendered jowl fat is supposed to be a secret. So often I find myself saying, “well, it’s nearly vegan, ‘cept I sauted the trinity in pork fat.”

    This website is my relaxation treat. Thanks!

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