5 Funky, Herbless Compound Butters and How to Make Them

April 26, 2016

At a recent dinner at Missy Robbins' Williamsburg restaurant, Lilia, my normally even-keeled boyfriend let out a string of expletives after tasting the butter. It didn't take me long to follow suit, as I discovered that the butter, served in a half-cup dollop next to bread and prosciutto wasn't just any butter. It was Parmigiano Butter.

Photo by James Ransom

The butter, creamed together with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, maintains its creaminess and faintly tangy flavor, but also takes on the earthy aged flavor of the Parmesan. While the restaurant served it with other aged Italian favorites, it would be just as perfect on a piece of toast rubbed with garlic. To make it, blitz a hunk of Parmesan in a food processor, and mix a tablespoon at a time into a very softened stick of butter, to taste.

Inspired by my new favorite food (I could happily eat it with a spoon), here are 4 other things to mix into butter—beyond the standard roster of herbs:

1. Maple Syrup

  • How to make it: Just add the syrup slowly (you don't want your butter too sweet—or soupy) into whipped butter, then brush it over toast.
  • How to use it: Might we suggest browned maple-butter over raspberries? Just sub out the brown sugar in this recipe and add a bit of maple butter instead of regular butter.

2. Beer

  • How to make it: Make it in the same way you would beer cheese, subbing out the cheddar for butter—it'll be less sharp, so consider adding extra garlic, but you'll be able to taste the beer more clearly.
  • How to use it: Pair it with a warm German pretzel.

3. Mustard and Balsamic

  • How to make it: Whip reduced balsamic vinegar and Dijon or mustard seeds directly into butter.

  • How to use it: Like at Lilia, spread the balsamic butter over bread and top with Prosciutto.

4. Goat Cheese

  • How to make it: To make goat cheese butter, whip roughly 2 tablespoons room-temperature goat cheese into 4 tablespoons butter, or to taste.
  • How to use it: Add it on top of a steak.

What are your favorite things to mix into butter? Are you as in love with it as we are? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Anonymous
  • Maggie
  • petalpusher
  • Aliwaks
  • AntoniaJames
I eat everything.


Anonymous March 19, 2018
This might sound rather boring, but its my EVERYDAY GO TO. I mix in my blender 4 STICKS of well softened butter. I slowly mix in and then beat 1 cup of flavorless oil - canola, grapeseed, etc.) and 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt. I beat the heck out of it, and use this as my everyday butter spread for toast, but it can also be used for cooking, over veggies, etc. You get the fabulous taste of real butter, but its spreadable! And no preservatives, etc. You can put it into any mundane containers that you have, but my preferences are 1) Anchor Hocking True Seal, 1 cup containers. But for a nicer look, I have bought the Staub mini coquettes from Food 52 - adorable little pots with lids, and look gorgeous on your everyday table, or for guests. I have been doing this for at least 10 years!
Maggie April 17, 2017
I just watched a foodie program on which the featured local restaurant used Parmesan butter in their grilled cheese sandwich (along with about 5 kinds of cheese lol I guess that's what made it)
petalpusher April 16, 2017
It's all good. This is where this cliche really rings true. Butter mixed with -----.
The flavor arsenal of the learned home chef.
Aliwaks April 27, 2016
I second the anchovies-- I do anchovy + shallot + lemon zest and tarragon if I have it for steak, capers for lamb.
Citrus butters-- Grapefruit Zest + Black Pepper + Brown Sugar is kind of AWESOME on toasted pound cake, and Lime + Earl Grey tea Butter on a seared sea bass---swoooon.
Spice butters are also amazing- Saffron/Chorizo Butter on clams, Garam Masala Butter on sweet potatoes.
AntoniaJames April 26, 2016
Cream cheese + anchovies + butter (riff on Liptauer). A gussied up version (with lemon zest and capers) is here: ;o)