Skip to main content

Compound butter: It’s the thing you’re missing in your life — and your meals

Compound butter is magical flavor bomb will make all of your dishes shine

If you’re looking for an easy, instant upgrade to just about any dish, compound butter is the way to go. When you’re looking for ways to add flavor to a dish, you can’t go wrong with infusing butter, already the world’s most perfect food, with fresh herbs and savory flavors like garlic and shallots. If you’re wondering how to make an over-the-top magnificent bird this Thanksgiving, the answer is compound butter. A steakhouse-quality steak for date night at home? Compound butter. Roasted vegetables with a complex, buttery sauce straight from your fridge? You get it.

So how do you make this magical ingredient? And how can you be sure you always have it in a moment of need? Read on to find out how to make compound butter, learn different recipe ideas you can try, and discover why you need to make a big batch of this buttery beauty ASAP.

What is compound butter?

Sliced butter on paper on wooden cutting board.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Compound butter is simply butter mixed with other ingredients and used as a savory flavor bomb to just about anything you can cook up. It can be used soft and spreadable, rubbed under the skin of chicken or turkey, or even as a wonderful topping for bread or crackers. Butter boards, anyone? One of the truly wonderful things about compound butter, though, is that it can also be chilled, sliced, and used for individual portions. One slice of this heaven-sent goodness melting atop a hot-from-the-skillet seared pork chop is simply out-of-this-world delicious.

How long will it stay fresh?

hands cutting butter on a cutting board.
Photo by Rafael Andrian on Scopio

Sealed tightly in plastic wrap or a zip-top bag, homemade compound butter can last in the refrigerator for about two weeks. Conveniently, it also freezes beautifully and will keep in the freezer for up to six months. But we promise, you’ll go through this stuff long before you hit that mark.

How can I incorporate compound butter into my cooking?

butter board
Aubrey's Kitchen

In just about any savory dish where you’d use butter, you can substitute compound butter. It does absolute wonders for a dish when spread over any piece of protein before it cooks. Whip up a large batch and rub underneath the skin of a turkey before it’s roasted for the most flavorful and moist bird you’ve ever prepared. Don’t forget that all of that flavor goes directly into the gravy as well (when you use the pan drippings), so the flavor will generously spread out to almost every dish on your Thanksgiving table. This method works perfectly for other poultry as well. You can also spread it into the cavity of fish before grilling for a succulent and flavorfully flakey catch.

When compound butter is soft, you can even simply use it as a spread on a crudité platter. The ingredients you’ve used will infuse into the silky butter and create one of the most addicting, savory dips you’ve ever tasted.

After compound butter has been chilled, it can be sliced and put on top of  almost anything for a tasty buttery boost. Place a round on a hot juicy steak, a peppery and wonderfully gamey lamb chop, a perfectly roasted piece of salmon, or a delightfully earthy steamed artichoke. Toss a few slices into a pureed sauce or soup for velvety texture and added complexity. The possibilities are endless.

What ingredients should I use?

fresh honey.
Benyamin Bohlouli/Unsplash

This is where cooking gets fun. While there are lots of compound butter recipes out there, you can use absolutely anything you want in your version. What are your favorite herbs? Toss some in. Can’t get enough Cajun seasoning in your cooking? Put as much as you want into your compound butter. Even unexpected ingredients like soy sauce, pesto, or hot sauce are incredible when incorporated into compound butter. If you’d like to add a bit of sweetness, honey mixes in gorgeously and is a welcome accompaniment to many dishes. For your morning bagel, a sweet mixture of butter, honey, cinnamon, and brown sugar would be amazing. Maybe drizzle in some maple syrup to amp the sweetness way up. Let your inner chef out by trying new flavor combinations. It’s really hard to mess this one up.

The compound butter recipe below is our favorite mixture of savory ingredients. It makes for an incredibly delicious spread when soft. When it’s chilled, you’d be hard pressed to find any savory dish in which it won’t shine.

Herby lemon compound butter recipe

Lindsay Parrill/The Manual

When you discover how easy it is to make your own compound butter and how incredibly tasty the results are, you’ll never be without a batch in your refrigerator or freezer.


  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2–3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Zest from one lemon
  • Salt and pepper


1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix all ingredients together, using a spatula to fully combine. *Note: If you’re using your compound butter soft, you can simply stop here. You’re done. See how easy that was?
Lindsay Parrill/The Manual
Lindsay Parrill/The Manual

2. Scoop butter mixture onto a large piece of plastic-wrap and roll into a log shape, using the sides of the plastic to form the shape. No need to touch the butter directly and get greasy fingers.

Lindsay Parrill/The Manual

3. When the log is formed, twist the ends of the plastic, creating an air-tight seal. Chill for at least two hours, until the butter has hardened.

Lindsay Parrill/The Manual

4. Slice and serve on top of anything you please.

Lindsay Parrill/The Manual

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
Ultra-processed foods are seriously unhealthy (and these are the items hiding in your pantry you didn’t realize you should avoid)
Don't ruin your healthy meals with these ultra-processed foods
Containers of different gummy candy

When it comes to processed foods, finding the right balance is of paramount importance. Processed, unhealthy foods, often deemed unavoidable in our fast-paced lives, can indeed play a role in meeting our daily nutritional requirements, provided they are approached with vigilance. Surprisingly, many individuals following various forms of Western diets unwittingly incorporate ultra-processed foods into their daily meals, unlike those who follow a more whole-food way of eating, like the Mediterranean diet.

The extent of what qualifies as an ultra-processed food might shock you, and if you frequently opt for on-the-go dining, you might come across them more often than you think. In this article, we explore the topic of processed and ultra-processed foods, highlighting their significance and impact on our overall health.

Read more
Bartenders explain the merits of nocino, the tasty liqueur you need in your life
Nocino is the Italian liqueur you didn't know you were missing. Here's how to use it
A pour of nocino, a walnut liqueur

Like so many ancient drinks, the earliest uses of the Italian liqueur nocino were often medicinal. Users believed it helped with stomach issues and fended off the plague. In modern times, the liqueur, which is made from unripened walnuts that are harvested before the nut forms, is now used for enjoyment, especially in nocino liqueur cocktails.

Traditionally, nocino is made once a year, generally toward the end of June, when the walnuts are at just the right stage, though changes in climate have been pushing the harvest earlier, now sometimes to the middle of June, and if the harvest is smaller, there are fewer bottles of nocino made that year. Overall, though, you can still find the stuff in most specialty stores, and it's a great base to play around with. There are even some domestic options, like this one from Ohio.

Read more
The classic whiskey cocktails you need in your bartending repertoire
If whiskey is your thing, you must know how to whip up these classic cocktails
Sazerac classic whiskey cocktail

Ever wonder why so many of the classic cocktails out there involve whiskey? Because the spirit is versatile, it comes in various forms (rye, bourbon, Scotch, etc.) and takes kindly to several complementary ingredients. And while there are countless recipes you should explore, there are five you really must know.

Yes, like classic gin cocktails or classic tequila cocktails, classic whiskey cocktails are combinations you should know by heart and work to perfect with little tweaks here and there. They get adorned with the classic name because the combinations are tried and true, standing the test of time. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun with them, as we always encourage you to play around with things like whiskey type, liqueur type, bitters type, and more. They're classics, sure, but they can still be tailor made for your own palate.

Read more