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What is Compound Butter?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Compound butter is butter which has been mixed with a seasoning to make it more flavorful. It is often served with steak, seafood, and vegetables as an alternative to a sauce or to add zest to the meal, and it comes in both savory and sweet varieties. Although some stores sell compound butter, it is also very easy to make at home. Using this kind of butter at a dinner party or event can make the food feel more sophisticated, and it requires very little effort. Cream cheese can also be flavored in the same way, with cream cheese and fresh herbs being a classic spread for bagels and breads.

To make compound butter, butter is allowed to soften at room temperature and then ingredients are stirred in. The finished butter is put back into refrigeration to cool, and some cooks make it into a log or block for easy slicing. It can also be formed into balls or other shapes and chilled so that it will make an attractive garnish. The imagination is the only limit on fillings for the butter. Typically, unsalted butter is used, with cooks adding salt to taste.

When cooked ingredients such as roasted garlic are used, they should be allowed to completely cool. Mixing warm ingredients into the butter could cause it to separate, rendering the butter useless. Fresh ingredients like herbs may also be quickly blanched to reduce the possibility of bacterial contamination, but they should be allowed to cool and dry before use. As a general rule, the compound butter should be used within a few days once it is made, or frozen for up to one month. Using an acid like lemon will also help to preserve the butter.

Savory compound butter can be spread on bread, served alongside meats, or tossed with vegetables, pasta, and anything else the cook might imagine. Some ingredients one could use in savory compound butter include cilantro, parsley, chilies, paprika, lime, lemon, dill, garlic, anchovies, mustard, dried mushrooms, a red wine and shallot reduction, tarragon, thyme, and other fresh herbs. Lemon and dill butter pairs charmingly with many fish dishes, while tarragon butter is a classic French garnish.

Sweet butters can be spread on baked goods such as morning toast, scones, or biscuits. Honey, maple, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves can be used in these butters. Some cooks also like to bake these butters into things like cinnamon rolls and sweet breads, as the infused butter will make the overall dish more sweet and flavorful.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Ocelot60 — On Dec 22, 2014

@heavanet- I love to sweeten my compound butter recipe with either sugar, corn syrup, or honey. Next I add the juice of my favorite fruit to make the flavor bold and tasty. The best way to do this is to squeeze it directly from the fruit into the mixture.

Lemons, oranges, limes, and even pomegranates are easy to use for this compound butter recipe. Simply mix the butter with your choice of sweetener, then squeeze in the juice and mix it again. You can add as much of the juice as you like to achieve the flavor you want.

By Talentryto — On Dec 22, 2014

@heavanet- My favorite compound butter for breakfast foods consists of adding pure maple syrup and cinnamon to regular butter. You can even add a little bit of brown sugar to the mixture to enhance this tasty creation.

I think you will love this compound butter on pancakes, but don't limit what you put it on. I love to spread this buttery mixture on french toast, biscuits, roles, and even muffins for a delicious breakfast treat.

By Heavanet — On Dec 21, 2014

Does anyone have a good recipe for the best compound butter for pancakes? I'm looking for one that will be sweet and spicy.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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