Padma Lakshmi’s chili honey butter is truly a condiment that you can use EVERYWHERE. Nothing more than butter, honey, cayenne, and a pinch of salt is all it takes so you can have it ready at a moment’s notice.

Chili honey butter. Need I say more? It’s actually dangerous to keep this condiment around because you will find yourself buttering your toast with it, frying up eggs with a bit of it melted in the pan, not to mention making home fries, too. And that’s just breakfast. It can also be used to sauté green beans and carrots, to brush on grilled fish, even to baste a whole chicken for roasting. The possibilities are endless.–Padma Lakshmi

LC Compound Interest Note

This sensational, couldn’t-be-simpler schmear of sweet and spice—a simple mash of everyday ingredients—is actually a classic culinary trick. It goes by the technical term “compound butter.” While we imagine the term “compound” comes from the potential for varied ingredients, it also sorta describes the compound interest it brings to what’s on the table. Slathered on cornbread, biscuits, bagels, pancakes, waffles, scones, and the like. Smeared on steak. Dabbed atop steamed vegetables.  Heaped on toasted hamburger buns. Dolloped onto roasted sweet potatoes (or for that matter, roasted russets). Lavished upon corn on the cob. Melted over popcorn. Even bestowed upon naan. (Though in that last instance, perhaps you ought to consider using ghee?)

Chili honey butter spread on toast, with a butter knife in the background.

Chili Honey Butter

5 / 2 votes
This chili honey butter can be used in so many sweet and savory applications that you'll never run out of ways to use it. Butter, honey, cayenne, and salt are all it takes.
Servings8 tablespoons (makes about 1/2 cup)
Calories119 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt to taste


  • In a blender, a food processor, or a bowl with a fork, combine the butter, honey, cayenne, and salt until a smooth, messy mixture forms.
  • Spoon the chili honey butter into a resealable container of some sort and keep it in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks–though chances are you’ll need to make yourself a second batch long, long before then.
Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet Cookbook

Adapted From

Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 tablespoonCalories: 119 kcalCarbohydrates: 3 gProtein: 0.2 gFat: 12 gSaturated Fat: 8 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.5 gCholesterol: 32 mgSodium: 2 mgPotassium: 11 mgFiber: 0.1 gSugar: 3 gVitamin A: 474 IUVitamin C: 0.2 mgCalcium: 4 mgIron: 0.04 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2007 Padma Lakshmi. Photo © 2007 Ditte Isager. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This chili honey butter recipe is so good it hardly made it to the table! The first sensation is the warmth of the honey, then the heat of the pepper kicks in. The salt is almost not necessary but peps it up just a bit. I skipped the electrical tools and used a fork. A rubber spatula would work just as well. Even though it’s super-easy to make, it could also be frozen and pulled out at a moment’s notice. Putting a batch aside in the freezer also would ensure having some for more than a day or two! In my fridge, it would never last more than that, though I’m certain it would safely keep lots longer than the couple of weeks noted. I’m also starting to think about using special honey or pepper or salt in with the butter, such as Trader Joe’s Desert Mesquite honey or ground aleppo, ancho, or chipotle pepper. Even Maldon’s smoked sea salt would shift the balance of sweet, heat, and salt. I served it atop warmed naan with dinner and one of my diners asked if we could have this ALL the time! The question here isn’t whether or not this is wonderful—it is!—but what you might do with it! Padma noted some breakfast possibilities. Here are a few more: Use the butter to fry up a batch of French toast, drop a dollop into oatmeal or cream of wheat, plop some atop grits, spread it on a muffin, crumpet, johnnycake, biscuit, or scone, or bagel, even use it to slick the pancake griddle or waffle iron. And the rest of the day? Add it to a peanut butter sandwich, brush it on a burger bun, use it instead of garlic butter on bread, soften or melt it and dip steamed artichoke leaves into it, slather onto corn bread, mix a little into sautéed peperonata, use it to caramelize onions, add to chopped onions when beginning a tomato sauce, brush it onto corn on the cob or add it to a bowl of cooked corn, stir it into mashed potatoes, drizzle on popcorn, or place it on a baked sweet potato. In baking, use it in gingerbread cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, blondies, and sugar cookies. When Padma states the possibilities are endless, well, I think she’s right! And then there’s always the way we started: a spoonful right from the bowl!

This chili honey butter is something that makes you go, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I didn’t think this would be as good as it is, but the combination of the butter, sweet honey and heat is very tasty. I used it to finish a grilled steak and mushrooms. Everyone agreed it was very good, giving a different and unique taste to the meat. Tomorrow, I’ll try it with a piece of toast and ham. I’m already thinking of what else I can use it for.

What a great recipe this chili honey butter is, especially for those who like to add a little spiciness to their breakfast. I haven’t yet tried the butter on anything but some good crusty bread, but since the prep is a cinch and it keeps well for several weeks, it will be a handy condiment to have around. I’d only tweak the ratio of cayenne to honey — a little less cayenne, a little more honey — but that is truly personal preference.

I’ve become addicted to this chili honey butter. I Iove, love this simple combination of sweetness and spiciness. As if I needed another reason to bake fresh bread! Its very nice when spread on thin toasts and passed as an appetizer accompanied by a full-bodied red wine.

This chili honey butter is a lovely combination of flavors. We used it on grilled fish, as the recipe suggested. Our fish was halibut, and it was divine. I’m sure it would be lovely on vegetables as well.

I love compound butter, but I never think to make them. This chili honey butter is great on raisin toast in the morning. I used only half the amount of cayenne, and that was plenty of spice for me.

I’m going out on a limb here, because it seems so simple, but this is an excellent recipe to make and keep around for cooking vegetables, chicken, rice, etc. I used it to make scrambled eggs with cheese, green onion, and some bacon, and it was fantastic. I also served it just as-is with fresh corn tortillas with a Mexican dinner. You don’t need a lot, and it freezes great. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and just use what you need right out of the freezer. Make it ahead of time to get the most flavor out of it.

This chili honey butter recipe is wonderful and simple, tastes great on everything—muffins, bread, roasted vegetables. The only suggestion I have is to add a bit of salt.

This chili honey butter recipe is so simple and amazingly delicious. I tried it on fresh steamed green beans, fresh corn on the cob, even on popcorn! It’s my new favorite! Make sure you double the recipe, as you’ll be sorry if you don’t. I found the amount of cayenne to be just right—not too overwhelming. Add more if you like it really hot!

Originally published October 11, 2012

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Campari Citrus Marmalade

A little sweeter (and a lot more vibrant) than traditional English marmalade thanks to the notable presence and complexity of the classic Italian apéritif. Here’s how to make it.

4 hrs 30 mins

Apple Cranberry Sauce

Apple cranberry sauce. Not quite as American as apple pie. Not until you taste this version, that is. Sweetly tart and superbly lovely with turkey and pork and so, so much more.

1 hr

Caramelized Onion and Tomato Jam

Not sure what to do with that mountain of sweet summer tomatoes? This sweet and savory tomato jam is the answer.

1 hr 30 mins

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Wonderful. Made homemade flour tortillas and spread this on while they were warm. Amazing! Thank you for this.