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Compound Butters

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  0 min
  • Calories: 80
5 sticks of compound butters lined up and sliced made with fresh herbs, citrus zest and juice and caramelized onions
Photography by Gayle McLeod

The fun part about making compound butters is that there isn’t really a bad combination. We love to build ours with a mix of fresh herbs, citrus zests, and garlic and onions.

Our Best Compound Butter Recipes

That’s correct, we have multiple compound butter recipe ideas to share. It might come as no surprise that compound butter is common in French cuisine. Like a good sauce or condiment, compound butters serve to enhance the flavor of a dish. The queen of butter Julia Child said, “With enough butter, anything is good.” With Julia’s love of butter as our North Star, we’ve set out to offer a few of our favorite compound butters, which you can mix-and-match to your heart's (and recipe’s) delight!

a stick of butter surrounded by bowls of salt, caramelized onion, citrus zest and fresh herbs for making compound butters
homemade compound butter made with butter, salt and fresh herbs being wrapped in parchment paper and tied on the ends

What To Do With Compound Butter

We wouldn’t tell you how to choose your mix-ins at the fro-yo bar, and we’re not going to tell you what to do with your compound butter. But since adding things to butter is our favorite kind of math, we’d like to suggest the following equations:

  • The best compound butter for steak: parsley + lemon juice (aka beurre maître d'hôte)

  • Our favorite compound butter for chicken: garlic + thyme + lemon

  • There’s a compound butter for turkey too:

  • And a no-brainer, we love compound butter for bread: garlic + butter (aka beurre à la bourguignonne)

  • Compound butter for fish is a fresh idea: lemon + any fresh herbs

5 sticks of compound butters lined up and sliced made with fresh herbs, citrus zest and juice and caramelized onions

We Got Yer Compound Butter Ideas

Compound butter is often served right before a dish is served, sliced and served cold atop the humble butter vehicle. It’s also used as a finishing touch to sauces, or sometimes appears as a condiment that accompanies a main dish. There’s plenty of compound butter recipes, with herb compound butter and garlic compound butter amongst our favorites. If you’re making an herb-based compound butter, just keep in mind that the maximum amount a stick of butter can hold is about three tablespoons. This isn’t an exact science, so you’re feeling creative, we encourage you to explore the compound butter universe!

5 sticks of compound butters lined up and sliced made with fresh herbs, citrus zest and juice and caramelized onions

How To Make Compound Butter

Since there’s no wrong way to make homemade compound butter we offer a few starting points to get the ball rolling. Starting with a softened stick of unsalted butter and a sprinkle of sea salt, you’ll start to get creative.

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the butter and salt, and add in the herbs, zest, juice, garlic or onions that called to your butter-loving self.

  2. Transfer the butter mixture–now it’s a compound butter!-- to a piece of parchment paper. Roll the butter into a log, twist the ends, and put in the fridge.

  3. After about an hour, the compound butter will have firmed up and you can slice it for use in recipes, on a piece of toast, or in a pot of rice.

  4. You can extend the life of your compound butter by sealing it in plastic wrap, and placing it in the freezer for up to three months.

5 bowls of softened homemade compound butters made with fresh herbs, citrus zest and juice and caramelized onions

Tools You’ll Need

Here Are Some Recipes That Would Be Great With Compound Butter

We think that compound butter is a simple way to give any recipe that je ne sais quoi. A few of our recipes that get even better with a little extra butter love include:

5 bowls of softened homemade compound butters made with fresh herbs, citrus zest and juice and caramelized onions

More Butter Please

We’re big fans of the compound butter club, and we’d love to see your creations! Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper.

Compound Butters

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  0 min
  • Calories: 80

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt

Add-In Suggestions (Mix and Match)

  • Herbs:
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs such as chives, thyme, parsley, basil, or rosemary, optional
  • Citrus:
  • 1 teaspoon citrus zest, such as lemon, orange, or lime
  • 1 teaspoon citrus juice, such as lemon, orange, or lime
  • Garlic or Onions:
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons minced caramelized onion

Method

1. In a small bowl, combine the butter, salt, and any combination of herbs , zest or juice, and garlic or onions.

2. Transfer the butter to a piece of parchment paper. Using the paper, roll the butter into a log about 4 inches long and 1½ inches in diameter. Wrap the parchment paper around the butter and twist the ends to seal. Refrigerate the butter until firm, about 1 hour.

3. Store refrigerated in plastic wrap or an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories80
  • Protein0 g
  • Carbohydrates0 g
  • Total Fat9 g
  • Dietary Fiber0 g
  • Cholesterol24 mg
  • sodium348 mg
  • Total Sugars0 g

Compound Butters

Questions & Reviews

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  • Jenn

    I made one with roasted garlic and caramelized onions and served it with steak. It was such a hit!

    Thanks Jenn, so glad it was enjoyed!