Kitchen Magic

The Artful Magic of Compound Butter and How to Make it

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If you’re looking for a fun and creative way to elevate your cooking or just experiment with simple kitchen magic, let us introduce you to compound butter!

This magical creation is incredibly versatile and can add an explosion of flavor to any dish. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also fun and easy to make. With just a few simple ingredients and some creativity, you can create your own unique blends of compound butter to use in a variety of dishes.

From savory to sweet, the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re cooking for your family, entertaining guests, or just looking to add some magic to your daily meals, compound butter is the perfect ingredient to spice things up in the kitchen.

Let’s explore what compound butter is, how to make it, and all the wonderful ways to use it in your cooking.

Compound Butter on Cutting Board

The Magic of Compound Butter

The process of making compound butter incorporates the key principles of Kitchen Magic – creativity, intention, elemental magic, sensory experience and transformation.

Creativity

Compound butter is a great example of getting creative with different ingredients and techniques in the kitchen. With just a few basic ingredients like butter, herbs, and spices, you can create a wide range of delicious and unique flavor combinations.

herbs and spices on wooden table

Intention

When making compound butter, you can infuse it with intention by thinking about the flavors and aromas you want to create and choosing ingredients that align with your goals. This can help you create a more meaningful and satisfying culinary experience.


Elemental Magic

When making compound butter, you’re working with one of the most elemental ingredients in cooking: Butter. Whether using traditional or Vegan butter, this ingredient is as rich as it is simple and evokes the elements of Earth and Water.

By combining butter with other ingredients like herbs, spices, and citrus, you’re harnessing the power of the elements to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

lemons on the table

Sensory Experience

When making compound butter, you’re not just creating something that tastes good, but also something that smells and looks beautiful. The process of blending the ingredients together and seeing the colors and textures come together can be a truly magical experience.


Transformation

By taking basic ingredients and transforming them into something new and exciting, you’re tapping into the power of transformation to create something that’s truly magical.


What is Compound Butter?

Compound butter is a mixture of butter and various flavorings, such as herbs, spices, garlic, citrus zest, cheese, or really any additives you want!

The butter is usually softened and then combined with the other ingredients, which are finely chopped or grated, and then mixed thoroughly.

The mixture is then rolled into a log or shaped into small portions and chilled until firm.

compound butter logs on table

The Culinary History of Compound Butter

The creation of compound butter can be traced back to the early 17th century in France, where it was known as “beurre composé.” The French were known for their love of butter, and compound butter was a way to add flavor and variety to their meals.

At first, compound butter was primarily used in French cuisine as a way to add flavor to dishes. The most common flavors were herbs and spices, but as French cuisine developed, so did the variety of flavors used in compound butter.

By the 19th century, French cooks were creating complex blends of butter, herbs, spices, and even wines and liqueurs.

French wine and baguette on table

As French cuisine became popular in other countries, compound butter also spread to other parts of Europe and eventually to other parts of the world.

Today, compound butter is used in many different cuisines and can be found in a variety of flavors and combinations.

One of the most famous compound butters is Maître d’Hôtel butter, which is a French classic made with parsley, lemon juice, and garlic. It is often served with grilled meats, chicken or fish.

Another popular compound butter is Café de Paris butter, which is a complex blend of butter, herbs, spices, and other ingredients, including anchovies, capers, and Worcestershire sauce. It is often served with grilled meats or used as a finishing sauce for steak.


Best Compound Butter Flavorings

Herbs

Chopped fresh or dried herbs can be added to butter to give it a fresh, herbaceous flavor. Basil, thyme, rosemary, and parsley are classic herbs. They add earthy and rich flavors. Herb compound butter is an easy way to start as it nearly always turns out well.

herbs and spices on table and cutting board

Spices

Spices can add depth and complexity to compound butter. The incredible flavors of garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin are great places to start.

cinnamon and spices on table

Citrus

Lemon zest or zest from other citrus fruits like grapefruits, limes, or oranges can add a bright, fresh flavor to compound butter. Lemon or lime juice or zest can also be added to any compound butter recipe to help brighten up the flavor.

lemons, limes, and grapefruit

Cheese

Grated cheese can be mixed into butter for a rich, cheesy flavor. Examples include Parmesan, cheddar, and blue cheese.

grated cheese

Nuts

Chopped nuts like pecans, almonds, and walnuts can add a crunchy texture and nutty flavor to compound butter. Be sure to chop the nuts well so they incorporate well into your butter.

various types of nuts on a wooden spoon

Fruits

Fresh or dried fruits can add a touch of sweetness to compound butter. Examples include cranberries, apricots, figs, apples, dates, or mango. Fruit mixed with different spices and created exotic and complex flavor experiences.

cranberries growing on vine

Vegetables

Cooked or raw vegetables can be pureed and added to butter for a unique flavor. Examples include roasted garlic, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, or fresh chives. Consider incorporating these or other fresh ingredients for different flavor experiences.

chives on a wooden table

Wine

A splash of wine or fortified wine like sherry or port can add depth and richness to compound butter.

glasses of wine on table

Honey

A drizzle of honey can add a touch of sweetness to compound butter, perfect for spreading on toast or muffins. Other sweet additions also work well – like jam or maple syrup.

jar of honey

Truffles

A small amount of truffle oil or chopped truffle can give compound butter an earthy, luxurious flavor. Salted butter with a touch of truffle flavor makes for a simple, high impact flavored butter.

chopped truffle on cutting board

How to Make Homemade Compound Butter

Making compound butter is incredibly easy and only requires a few simple steps. Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1-2 tablespoons of desired herbs, fruits, veg or other ingredients

Instructions

  1. Allow butter to soften at room temperature until it is easy to work with.

  2. Finely chop or grate the desired ingredients. You can use any combination of flavors you like.

  3. Add your flavoring ingredients to the softened butter and mix well to combine.

  4. Place the butter mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log

  5. Chill the butter in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it is firm.

  6. Once firm, you can slice your compound butter log into small circles – creating smaller portions for easy use.

And that’s it!


Easy Compound Butter Recipes

Here are three easy starter recipes for you to experiment with.

Garlic and Herb Compound Butter

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, and rosemary)

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, minced garlic, and chopped herbs. Mix well to combine.

  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Place the butter mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log or shape into small portions.

  4. Chill the butter in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it is firm.

This garlic and herb compound butter is perfect for adding flavor to grilled meats, vegetables baked potatoes, or bread. It is a great addition to a Charcuterie Board.

herb and garlic compound butter on table

Lemon and Dill Compound Butter

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, lemon zest, and chopped dill. Mix well to combine.

  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Place the butter mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log or shape into small portions.

  4. Chill the butter in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it is firm.

This lemon and dill compound butter is perfect for adding flavor to grilled fish or seafood.


Blue Cheese and Chive Compound Butter

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, crumbled blue cheese, and chopped chives. Mix well to combine.

  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Place the butter mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log or shape into small portions.

  4. Chill the butter in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it is firm.

This blue cheese and chive compound butter is perfect for adding flavor to grilled steak roast chicken, or roasted vegetables.


Packing, Storing & Using Compound Butter

Packaging

An easy and classic way to package your compound butter is to shape it into a log that can be easy sliced – as outlined above.

Alternatively you can scoop your blended butter into small portions with a spoon, use a piping bag to create decorative little blobs, or even use small silicone molds to create interesting shapes.

However you choose to shape your butter, once chilled, you can wrap the butter in plastic wrap, parchment paper, or aluminum foil to keep the flavor in.


Storage

Compound butter should be stored in the refrigerator, where it will last for up to a week – depending on what ingredients have been added.

You can also freeze compound butter for up to three months.

If you choose to freeze the butter, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight.


Using Your Compound Butter

Now the fun part! Finding fun ways to eat your delicious creation!

There are many ways to use compound butter in your cooking. Here are some ideas to experiment with:

Basting

When grilling or roasting meat, basting it with melted compound butter can add flavor and moisture.

Brush it on during cooking, or use it to make a pan sauce after the meat is cooked.

Basting turkey with compound butter

Topping

Melted compound butter can make a delicious topping for grilled or roasted vegetables.

Drizzle it over the top, or toss the vegetables in it before serving.

Flavored Oils

Mix melted compound butter with olive oil to create a flavored oil that can be used for cooking or as a dressing for salads.

compound butter and olive oil being put on salad

Marinade

Mix melted compound butter with your favorite marinade ingredients to create a flavorful marinade for meats or fish.

Baked goods

Compound butter can be used to add flavor to baked goods, such as biscuits or cornbread.

Simply cut the compound butter into small pieces and mix it into the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients.

Popcorn

Melted compound butter can be a delicious topping for popcorn.

Simple drizzle it over the top of your hot corn and toss to coat.

popcorn in containers

Other Ideas:

  • Spread it on fresh bread or toast

  • Use it to sauté vegetables or mushrooms

  • Mix it into mashed potatoes

  • Toss it with pasta or rice

  • Add it to soups or stews for extra flavor

  • Make a Butter Board with it

Give it a Try

Compound butter is truly a simple but magical way elevate any dish and add a burst of flavor and aroma to your cooking.

With a few simple ingredients and some creativity, you can create your own unique blends of compound butter to use in a variety of dishes. From savory to sweet, the possibilities are endless.

By incorporating creativity, intention, elemental magic, sensory experience, and transformation, making compound butter can be more than just a culinary experiment. It can truly be an enchanting kitchen magic ritual.

Get started on this magical journey of creating our own compound butter blends today!