Homemade compound butter is very easy to make.  It is usually unsalted butter that has been softened and mixed with a seasoning to make it more flavorful. The butter can be shaped into a log or square for easy slicing or into balls or other shapes if desired. It is then re-chilled and served as a garnish. It can be made in both savory and sweet flavors.  It is often used with steaks, seafood, pasta, vegetables, pastries, biscuits and other breakfast breads. Substituting a compound butter for a sauce is a quick delicious way to accent a dish.

Savory additions to butter can be herbs, garlic (roasted and fresh), anchovies, mustard, dried mushrooms, shallots, any type of aromatic liquid, and spices.  Some very common savory compound butter combinations are lemon and dill for fish, garlic or blue cheese for steaks, and Beurre Blanc. Here are a few delicious recipes for:

Savory compound butters:

Chive Butter with Sea Salt:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons finely sliced chives
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt

Lemon-pepper Butter:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 medium lemons
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (from about 2 medium cloves)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

Kalamata Olive Butter:

(Great for poultry and fish)

1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup pitted chopped Kalamata olives

Shallot & Thyme Butter:

(Great with potatoes, vegetables, stirred into soups or spread on dinner rolls.)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced shallot

Sweet compound butters can include honey, maple, spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  Here are a few favorites:

Creamy Brown Sugar Butter:

(Great on top of pancakes, biscuits or popovers)

2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Molasses Clove Compound Butter

(Great on sweet potatoes & roasted squash)

Place 8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (1 stick) in a medium bowl and mash with a spatula until spreadable.  Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon dark (a.k.a. robust) molasses, 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/16 teaspoon ground clove and stir to combine.


White Chocolate Butter:

2 tablespoons white chocolate, melted and cooled
Ground cinnamon to taste

Vanilla-orange butter:

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved, or 1 tsp vanilla extract.
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest from about 1 medium orange
⅛ teaspoon salt

Honey Fruit Butter:

¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 small banana

Marmalade Butter:

½ cup marmalade (lemon, grapefruit or orange) melted and cooled
ground cinnamon to taste

Raisin-nut Butter:

½ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
¼ cup finely chopped raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Honey Butter:

1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup honey

Tips for making compound butters:

  • When using cooked ingredients like roasted garlic, allow to cool completely before adding to the butter.  Hot ingredients might cause the butter to separate.
  • Use the compound butter within a few days.  It can be frozen for up to a month wrapped tightly in plastic.
  • Consider blanching fresh herbs to rid them of any bacteria.

Homemade compound butters make great hostess gifts!