Compound butter recipes, simple ideas that elevate flavors on any dish

(Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images) /

From the currently trending butter boards to the signature finish to a dish, compound butter recipes bring big flavor with just a little spread. While many cooks have long appreciated the idea that fat is flavor, compound butter is more than just slathering that unctuous ingredient on toast or using it in baking.

Compound butter is simply butter with other ingredients. The key to this recipe is starting with a great butter. French butter is often recommended because it is higher in butter fat, which is also lower in moisture.

These butter recipes can use sweet or savory ingredients. The key is to find the right balance, just like any recipe. No one wants the flavor to be a sugar bomb or overly herbal.

Recently, Sheana Davis, award-winning cheesemaker, chef, and culinary educator, shared some delicious compound butter recipes using French butter. While her upcoming book, Buttermonger, will be published next year, these compound butter ideas could be a hit around the holiday table.

During a recent event with Davis, she explained that butter and wine pairings could elevate that weekend brunch, elegant dinner, or even that currently trending butter board. In her opinion, she prefers to complement flavors in a particular pairing.

For this particular tasting, Davis paired her compound butters with Brooks Wine, a Willamette Valley winery that is known for both its Riesling and Pinot Noir.

The pairing of a butter with a Riesling is quite intriguing. The Brooks Estate Riesling is quite balanced with a touch of citrus fruits and even a pinch of sea salt. The acid in the wine can help round out the richness in the compound butters.

What compound butter recipes will elevate that special meal?

Davis shared five compound butter recipes. Each recipe has layered flavors, with some unexpected pairings.

For example, pomegranate molasses has become a popular ingredient with chefs. Her recipe for a Pomegranate Molasses and Bing Cherry Butter can go both sweet and savory. Whether served over a roasted duck or paired with a flakey homemade biscuit, this recipe is one to keep in the back pocket.

Also, this recipe is delicious with a pinot noir, like the Brooks Wine 2019 Janus Pinot Noir. The play off the jammy notes is quite delightful.

Here’s how to make Pomegranate Molasses & Bing Cherry Compound Butter

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 1 tablespoon Pomegranate Molasses
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

For a more savory note, Davis suggested a Fig Thyme Butter. The combination of the luscious figs and the herbal fig, the compound butter can be served with a walnut quick bread, roasted turkey, or even with some earthy mushrooms.

Here’s how to make Fig Thyme Butter.

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 1 tablespoon fig jam (store bought)
  • Blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks or you may freeze

These compound butter recipes are just a few ideas. With a great French butter as the starting point, the flavor will get cheers all around.