Compound Butter

August 20, 2011


Kräuterbutter….just thinking about this butter brings back so many memories and phantom tastes.  We, The Husband and I, found it the first time we were stationed in Germany.  Fresh Brotchen and Kräuterbutter oh SO good garlic-y slightly salty herb-y  yes everyone needs Kräuterbutter in their life, one can become obsessed with it very easily.  In Germany they put a slab of it on your steak, its tossed with spatzle, put over potatoes… but that was over 10 years ago now unless you want to pay though the nose…well we haven’t had it in a long time.  A lot of those memories have faded with the passage of time but sometimes places and meals still rise to the front when ever I start talking about Germany.  The absolutely FREEZING December nights walking around the Christkindlmart in Nurnburg smelling the Glühwein (tastes NASTY!!), roasted Chestnuts (use for hand warmers they are rubbery and gross!)  and Nurmburg Lebkuchen (tastes WONDERFUL) produced literally right off the market where they have been turning out these wonderful cookies for over 100 years in the same place…scenting the air…the crackling of the Nurnburg Brats roasting away, the “Schweineschnitzel mit  zwiebelen” on brotchen so large you could make two meals from one sandwich…but I digress.

While being introduced to compound butters back in the 80’s I have never really thought about what great flavors could be added to the simple medium of butter.  Sure I made my share of Honey butter for corn bread and garlic butter but never ventured farther than that till here recently. I get some hair-brained ideas when left alone in the kitchen and these few compound butters while nothing super special on their own really rock the veggies they are applied to…so what does one look for when compiling items to mix into the humble stick of butter? Well there are a few different schools of thought in my way of looking at things.  You can pull the spices that you have added to other dishes in your meal, go off the reservation and pull spices and herbs that have little to do with the others in the accompanying dishes or find a happy medium pulling from outside the meal pairing with those in the meal.  What do I usually do…hmmm well I would have to say I pull fairly equally from all three areas of thought.  So today you get a peek into a few of my favorite compound butters.  Now since the process is basically the same for all of them I will only include photos for the process on one or two just because I like the photos… use this entry as a jumping off point to find your own compound butter life. I have added a bit of olive oil to some of the butters to raise the smoke point of the butters, you can either add it or leave it out it is totally up to you and the application you have planned. Don’t be afraid of mixing things up putting thing that might be odd together…remember you learn by messing up as well as by success.

Chipotle Compound Butter

1 stick butter

1/2 Ts Chipotle Powder

1/2 Ts Paprika

Pinch of Kosher Salt

1/4 Ts Fresh ground Pepper

1/4 Ts Ground Cumin

1 Ts+ Garlic Paste

2 Shallots (diced very finely)


1 Tb olive oil

Soften butter on the counter add  all the dry spices and mix well to distribute though out the butter. Add in the shallots and if using olive oil mix well.  As you can see below the butter turns a bit “pinkish orange”  in color.

Now you can use as is by slathering it on Roasted Corn on the Cob right off or you can allow the flavors meld together for a few days and go to town with it then.  If you use some parchment paper and toss the butter in the middle roll over one end of the paper and use a board scraper you can form it into a log from which you can slice nice rounds to apply to various food items.


Lemon Basil Dill Compound Butter

1 stick soften butter

12-18 fresh basil leaves

2 lg sprigs fresh dill

1 Meyer Lemon or common lemon

pinch of salt

few grinds of fresh Black Pepper


1 Ts+ Olive Oil

Zest the Meyer Lemon, set aside, juice and remove any seeds. The Meyer Lemon when ripe is this wonderful orange-ish lemon color which you can see in the middle of the photo below.  If you only have  common lemon by all means use it, the flavor with be a bit more “brighter” than with the Meyer Lemon but it will not change the flavor of the butter all that much.

I LOVE that orange color…but I still find the scent kind of weird.

Combine the lemon juice with the butter and oil in a bowl mixing thoroughly to combine, it takes a little bit of stirring as the oil and lemon juice do not want to play nicely with the butter.

I start with the oil then go on to the lemon juice

OK, Chiffonade the Basil by taking about 6 or 8 leaves and rolling them tightly but carefully in on themselves and slicing very thinly like so…

The leaves bruise very easily so use care.

They should look like little rags

Remove the fronds of dill from the larger stems and mince them…

From this….

To this…the smell of the fresh dill is AMAZING

Now you can just toss the herbs, salt and pepper to the butter and give a good mixing. I love the interplay of the colors when mixed into the butter…

Fresh Clean flavors…

Ok I think you have got the point as far as the mechanics so here are a few more compound butters.


Honey Butter

1 Stick softened Butter

1/2 c Honey


1/2 ts Cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and whip together.  It is much easier to use a mixer than by hand. The honey can be a bit testy to combine and using a mixer saves your arm from feeling like it is going to fall off from all the mixing.

I use this on fresh dinner rolls right out of the oven or for cornbread baked in a cast iron skillet…


Garlic Butter

1 Stick Soften Butter

1 to 2 cloves Garlic

pinch salt

few grinds of Pepper

1/2 Shallot (finely minced)

1-2 Campari tomatoes (or large cherry tomatoes)

~A bit of history on this one…  The Husband and I came across this butter while in Germany the first time, The daughter had just been born and we were looking for a place to eat that was close to our Quarters and we came upon this teeny tiny little place touting Mexican food so we thought why not. While the main course was far from what I knew Mexican food was this compound butter has stuck with me for 22 years.  This compound butter when I make it is served like a dip, warmed so that the garlic starts to releases its flavors and the shallots slightly cook.  Think more like an olive oil dip for a great sourdough bread.  You can use this as a spread on good rustic bread then run it though the broiler to brown off.

Starting with the tomatoes you will want to remove the seeds and dice them at about 1/8th of an inch you want them small but still large enough to taste.  Grate the garlic with a fine microplane grater it will come out the other side like a very fine paste and VERY garlic-y.  Add everything to the butter and allowing to sit over night is the best as it allows the flavors to combine, but if you can’t wait then toss in a pan and allow to gently heat.  Serve with a good bread for dipping.


Cinnamon Butter

1 Stick Softened butter

2 Ts Cinnamon

4 ts Caster Sugar (or reg sugar)

slight sprinkle of Ground cloves

Few drops of Vanilla Bean Paste (or vanilla extract)

Toss everything in with the softened butter and mix well.

Use this to top French toast, regular toast, mix a bit into oatmeal, top sweetened grits…that type of thing.

So here is a starting  point for you….let me know what you come up with I would be greatly interested in your compound butters.

Now go play with your food.



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