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Spice Food Up with Compound Butters

It’s hard to imagine a way to make butter better. What could be simpler or more mouth-pleasing than this essential dairy fat? But while butter can’t be improved, it can be enhanced.

Compound butters, spiked with spices and herbs, are the chef’s secret for adding flavor and fragrance that will complement any buttered dish from toast to grilled steak.

Compound butters are easy to make, and they store well in the refrigerator or freezer. Keeping a couple of different flavors on hand will drastically increase your culinary options, even when whipping up a last-minute meal or snack.

You can use compound butter to enrich roasted and grilled meats and fish, rub it under the skin of poultry, fry eggs in it and use it in place of regular butter anywhere you want to boost flavor. The only limit is your imagination.

For the best results, start with the best butter: We prefer unsalted Irish butter, which has a higher butterfat content than butter made for the American market.

Let the butter come to room temperature before mixing (compounding) it with other ingredients. Form the compound butter into a log, wrap well in plastic and refrigerate or freeze until needed. When you’re ready, slice off as much butter as you need.

All kinds of herbs, spices and blends can be used to make compound butter. Here are a couple of recipes to get you started: Sweet Smoked Paprika Butter and Bold Italian Butter.