Our 11 Best Recipes Where Butter Plays the Lead

Featuring croissants, shellfish, and cocktails.

March 10, 2023
Photo by James Ransom

When it comes to food, butter is a lot like Meryl Streep: It seemingly has its hand in everything that’s generationally good. From croissants to shellfish to cocktails, butter routinely transcends ordinary recipes into delicious classics. To honor butter’s culinary prowess, we’ve compiled recipes that show off its undeniable culinary range.

1. Classic Croissants

Behind every great croissant lies an even better butter block. The French pastry demonstrates the peak of butter’s powers as it creates a flaky texture, rich flavor, and golden finish. Everyone should make croissants at least once, and there’s no better entry point than this recipe from Erin McDowell.

2. Julia Child's Beurre Blanc (White Butter Sauce)

Beurre blanc is butter in its most luxurious form. A great topping for roasted or steamed vegetables, seafood, or chicken, this traditional sauce is easy to master, impossible to forget, and guaranteed to make any dish feel a bit more special.

3. Peach Butter Cinnamon Rolls

Peach butter is my preferred breakfast butter. Already perfect spread over toast, Erin McDowell takes it to another level by folding it into cinnamon rolls.

4. Clams (or Mussels) With Lime-Butter Sauce

Butter’s ability to transform a shellfish broth into the world’s greatest dipping sauce for bread is a true culinary marvel. This particular dish improves an already excellent butter sauce by adding the heat (Thai chili), acid (lime), and herbs (basil). Serve with your favorite dry white wine.

5. Speedy Shrimp With Horseradish Butter

The celebration of the marriage between shellfish and butter continues. I love this dish for a few reasons: 1) It uses water instead of stock, which allows the brightness of dill and lemon to shine. 2) It takes 10 minutes to make. 3) It works with pasta, rice, a good loaf of bread, or entirely on its own.

6. Grilled (or Broiled) Oysters with a Sriracha Lime Butter

My final praise for the shellfish and butter partnership comes in the form of grilled oysters. The perfect warm-weather-hosting snack, grilling oysters is a great way to get your shucking done ahead of time and creates the ideal vessel for slurping sriracha lime butter.

7. Spring Vegetable Jumble with Lemon-Tarragon Butter

We’re entering spring (allegedly) and there’s no better way to celebrate the season’s vegetables than by tossing them in a creamy, vibrant tarragon butter sauce. Brighter—and with more herbs—than the beurre blanc mentioned above, this dish shows butter in a lighter form.

8. Soy Sauce Butter Popcorn

While the motor oil I douse my popcorn in at the movie theater might not contain any actual butter, I relish the nights when I dump well-seasoned, melted butter onto a bowl of homemade popcorn so that it tastes “more like the movies.” If you share my joy, this soy sauce butter recipe might become your new go-to popcorn enhancer.

9. Nutter Butters

Nutter butter? More like double butter because these cookies are chock full of both peanut and regular butter. A—dare I say—elevated take on a well-known classic, these nutter butter cookies are warming, chewy, and teaming with butter.

10. Double Vanilla Butter Cake with Chantilly Cream

Smooth, subtle, and rich— this cake is everything you want a butter-forward dessert to be. Top with a sweetened, vanilla-flecked whipped cream to add a touch of sweetness, and you’ve got yourself a cake fit for any occasion.

11. Hot Buttered Butter Rum

This would be a good tagline for Big Butter to adopt: Butter, you can drink it! This is true, of course, and there’s no better way to drink your butter than by making yourself a hot buttered butter rum. Boozy, spicy, and warm—this cocktail from John deBary will make you feel cozy on even the coldest of days.

Let us know which butter recipe you like the most in the comments below!

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Paul Hagopian

Written by: Paul Hagopian

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