Herby Compound Butter

March  6, 2023
5 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Serves 16
Author Notes

The idea of developing an all-purpose herb butter or compound butter recipe came to me at my cousin's home. He served a beautiful grilled steak with just a dollop of margarine on top. Clearly, something was missing. More depth in flavor was needed. In my mind, an herb butter infused with aromatics to replace the margarine sounded delicious. That would instantly turn your everyday steak into a luxurious gourmet delight!

Having spent a lot of time in France, I learned that there are many kinds of herb butters. There is "Beurre à la Bourguignonne," which is a compound butter mainly made from butter and garlic that is blended into a thick paste and chilled before using it on snail dishes such as Escargot or on top of crusty bread slices. There is also "Beurre Maître d'hôtel," another often-heard French compound butter made of butter, parsley, garlic, shallots, and fresh lemon juice. The list of herb butters in France goes on and on, even to "Beurre Café de Paris" which has some fourteen ingredients!

Ideally, one to two herbs for a compound butter is preferred to pair with specific foods. Parsley and lemon zest go well with steamed or boiled vegetables. Chive butter is good on baked potatoes. Basil butter tastes great on chicken, fish, and scrambled eggs. However, I want to share an herb butter with ingredients that can be conveniently stored long-term and pulled out in an instant when needed no matter what kind of dish is being cooked. —Nikki Jessop

Test Kitchen Notes

We love compound butters because of their simple ability to elevate any dish. Add to a warm steak, stir into a finished bowl of pasta, spread on toast—the possibilities truly are endless. Feel free to mix and match herbs and spices, and even customize them based on a recipe type (e.g. adding bright, light herbs and seasonings like lemon zest and parsley to a compound butter made for fish). If you don't have fresh herbs, dry herbs are an acceptable swap here. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, de-stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chives, finely sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chervil, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, de-stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small bowl, mash softened butter with a spatula until smooth and creamy. Add garlic, chopped herbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  2. Lay out a large piece of parchment paper. Transfer the butter to the center, forming a log shape. With the help of a bench scraper, hold the butter log against the edge of your counter and tighten the roll to squeeze out as many air bubbles as possible. Roll up the butter into the remaining length of parchment paper.
  3. Chill the herb butter in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight, until the butter is solid. Slice and serve it over steak, fish, chicken, steamed vegetables, or with crusty bread.

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