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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Bent

A Taste of Luxury: Crafting Homemade Compound Butter

Snow crab legs with melted compound butter

The history of compound butter traces back to the culinary practices of medieval Europe, where skilled cooks and chefs sought to enhance the flavors of their dishes with innovative techniques and ingredients. In the medieval kitchen, butter was a prized commodity, valued for its creamy texture and rich taste. To make the most of this precious ingredient, cooks began infusing it with herbs, spices, and other flavorings to create compound butter—a luxurious condiment fit for royalty. 


Today, compound butter continues to captivate the palates of food enthusiasts around the world, cherished for its versatility and ability to enhance a wide range of dishes. Whether spread on crusty bread, or melted over fish, crab, shrimp or lobster, compound butter adds a touch of indulgence to any meal. 


There are countless ingredients you can add to compound butter to customize its flavor and suit your taste preferences. Below, there is the standard herb compound butter recipe and tons more ideas for other ingredients too. Be sure to try them all. 



Standard Herb Compound Butter 

broiled lobster basted with melted compound butter.
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 

  • 2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary, or tarragon) 

  • 1 clove roasted garlic, minced (optional) 

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional) 

  • Pinch of sea salt (optional) 

  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (optional) 


1. Prepare the Butter: In a mixing bowl, place the softened butter at room temperature. It's important for the butter to be soft enough to easily incorporate the other ingredients. 


2. Add Flavorings: Add the finely chopped fresh herbs to the softened butter. You can use a single herb or a combination of herbs based on your preference. If desired, add minced garlic for extra flavor, lemon zest for brightness, or a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning. 


3. Mix Well: Use a fork or spatula to thoroughly mix the herbs and any additional flavorings into the softened butter. Ensure that the herbs are evenly distributed throughout the butter. 


4. Shape the Butter: Transfer the compound butter mixture to a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Shape the butter into a log or roll and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper. 


5. Chill the Butter: Place the wrapped compound butter in the refrigerator to firm up for at least 1 hour, or until it's solid enough to slice. 


6. Serve or Store: Once chilled, the compound butter is ready to use. Slice the butter into rounds and serve it on top of grilled meats, seafood, or vegetables. You can also use it to flavor pasta dishes, spread it on bread or toast, or melt it over steamed vegetables. Store any leftover compound butter in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze it for longer storage. 

King crab and melted compound butter

Try These Other Incredible Combinations: 


1. Citrus Zest: Lemon, lime, or orange zest adds a bright, refreshing flavor to compound butter. 


2. Fresh Herbs: Experiment with a variety of fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary, basil, cilantro, dill, or tarragon. Each herb imparts its own unique flavor profile to the butter. 


3. Garlic: Minced garlic adds a savory depth of flavor to compound butter. You can use raw minced garlic or roasted garlic for a milder, sweeter flavor. 


4. Spices: Add a pinch of your favorite spices to enhance the butter's flavor. Consider using spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, or smoked paprika. 


5. Cheese: Grated or finely chopped cheese can be mixed into compound butter for a rich and savory flavor. Try varieties like Parmesan, cheddar, Gruyère, blue cheese, or goat cheese. 


6. Nuts: Finely chopped nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pine nuts, can add texture and a subtle nutty flavor to compound butter. 


7. Honey or Maple Syrup: For a touch of sweetness, mix in a small amount of honey or maple syrup to balance the savory flavors of the butter. 


8. Freshly Ground Pepper: Add a generous grind of freshly ground black pepper to give the butter a subtle spicy kick. 


9. Wine or Spirits: A splash of wine, such as white wine or sherry, or a splash of spirits, such as brandy, whiskey, or rum, can add complexity and depth of flavor to compound butter. 


10. Chopped Olives or Sun-Dried Tomatoes: For a Mediterranean twist, mix in chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted red peppers for a burst of flavor. 


Feel free to mix and match ingredients to create your own unique compound butter recipes. The possibilities are endless, so don't be afraid to get creative and experiment with different flavor combinations! 

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