What Is Compound Butter?

Compound butter is softened, unsalted butter creamed together with herbs, spice blends, and other ingredients. You can use seasoned butter as a flavoring sauce for proteins and vegetables or as a spread for baked goods. The term compound butter encompasses countless recipes and flavor profiles. From savory herbed butter for steakhouses to sweet compound butter recipes for bakeries, the only limit is your chef’s imagination.

Compound butter is typically cut into rounds and served atop grilled meats, poached fish, and roasted vegetables. Alternately, you can whip your compound butter and serve it as a spread for bread, waffles, and muffins. We’ve created a full compound butter guide, explaining everything you need to know about compound butter, the best compound butter for various cuisines, and compound butter recipes.

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What Is Compound Butter Used For?

Compound butter is used as a flavor enhancer for meats, vegetables, and baked goods. Discover the top compound butter recipe ideas for steak, turkey, corn, fish, chicken, and bread below.

Compound Butter for Steak

Compound Butter on Steak

Most steakhouses add a dollop of butter to their pan as a meat moistener before removing and resting steak, but some take this indulgence one step further by creating a custom compound butter for their steak.

Chefs often make herb butter for steak, but this is just the beginning of your steak butter recipe options. Discover some of the best compound butter varieties for steak below.

  • Maitre d’ butter
  • Blue cheese compound butter
  • Horseradish compound butter
  • Garlic herb compound butter

Compound Butter for Turkey

Compound Butter next to full, raw turkey on table

Thanks to its mild flavor profile, turkey is an excellent compound butter candidate. If you’re serving dark meat turkey, a smoky compound butter recipe is an excellent choice. Topping light meat turkey with a compound butter that blurs the lines of sweet and savory will delight guests. Discover the best types of compound butter for turkey below.

  • Garlic-chive compound butter
  • Whole-grain mustard compound butter
  • Cranberry orange zest compound butter
  • Smoked garlic, thyme, and parmesan compound butter

Compound Butter for Chicken

Compound Butter on Lemon Chicken in bowl

Use compound butter to transform your chicken dish from a boring basic to a delicious delicacy. Because chicken meat has a subtle flavor, you can pair it with either a savory or sweet compound butter. Discover some inventive compound butters with exotic spices for various chicken dishes below.

  • Berbere, garlic, caramelized onion compound butter
  • Kimichi and togarashi compound butter
  • Orange-marmalade and ginger compound butter
  • Basil, pesto, and sundried tomato compound butter

Compound Butter for Salmon

Cooked fish with compound butter

Making a compound butter for salmon and other fish dishes will set your seafood above your competition. Chefs commonly prepare salmon fillets, shrimp, and mussels with lemon and butter. While this classic combo is comforting, it's also cliche. Cream these unexpected seasonings and international flavors in your butter for an unparalleled seafood dish.

  • Cilantro, jalapeno, and lime juice compound butter
  • Charred scallion compound butter
  • Harissa mint compound butter
  • Miso compound butter

Compound Butter for Corn

Corn with Compound Butter on the side

Nothing says summer like fresh corn on the cob slathered in butter. Upgrade this summer staple by using a compound butter. From South American flavors to state fair classics, discover the top compound butters for your corn recipe below.

  • Garlic parmesan compound butter
  • Brown sugar compound butter
  • Cilantro Cotija compound butter
  • Chili lime juice compound butter

Compound Butter for Bread

Compound Butter on knife on top of homemade sliced bread

In the world of food, there are pairings so iconic it’s hard to imagine serving one without the other: pancakes and syrup, cake and frosting, and, of course, bread and butter. While patrons would balk if you served them a breadbasket without butter, you could earn their loyalty and returned patronage by crafting a specialty compound butter.

If you’re serving sweet scones or croissants at your continental breakfast, your guests will delight in a sweet compound butter. Herb butter for bread baskets filled with sourdough loaves is an excellent choice. We’ve outlined some scrumptious ideas for bread compound butter combinations.

  • Honey butter
  • Brandy vanilla compound butter
  • Herb butter
  • Cinnamon pecan compound butter

How to Make Compound Butter

Compound butter in bowl next to pepper on table

Compound butter adds complexity to your dishes, but making compound butter is simple. Compound butter is usually served in chilled rounds. The easiest way to make compound butter is to cream your ingredients together atop parchment or wax paper. This allows you to roll your compound butter into a sausage shape. Once shaped, chill your compound butter. Remove your compound butter from the fridge and slice to serve.

What You’ll Need to Make Compound Butter:

  • 1 lb. of unsalted, softened butter
  • Flavorings of your choice
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • Pastry scraper
  • Stand mixer + paddle attachment
  • Knife

Steps to Make Compound Butter:

  1. Soften the butter to 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Chop, crumble, roast, and mix your flavorings as needed.
  3. Add your softened butter to a stand mixer.
  4. Use the paddle attachment to turn the butter at medium speed.
  5. Once your butter is fluffy, turn your mixer to low speed.
  6. Add your flavoring ingredients to your mixer.
  7. Once you've dispersed your flavorings throughout your butter, stop your mixer.

How To Roll Compound Butter Into a Log:

Compound Butter rolled into log next to knife
  1. Scrape your compound butter mixture from your blender onto a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. Roll your compound butter into a sausage-shaped log.
  3. Use your hands to shape it until it is even.
  4. Press your pastry scraper down on the parchment paper and squeeze the air bubbles out.
  5. Evenly distribute your compound butter down the length of your parchment paper.
  6. Freeze your compound butter parchment paper roll.
  7. Once frozen, unroll your compound butter from the parchment paper.
  8. Set the compound butter out at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it.
  9. Cut your compound butter into slices and serve.

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Maitre D’Butter Recipe

Maitre D'Butter on Toast on Cutting Board

If you've been to a French restaurant, you may have left wondering what maitre d'butter is. Maitre d’ butter, or Maitre d’hotel butter, is a compound butter that originated in France. English speakers may assume it was a popular butter in hotels, but this is not the case. The French deemed it Beurre Maitre d’Hotel because a restaurant’s Maitre d’Hotel (head waiter) made it tableside, a common practice in French table service.

Beurre Maitre d’Hotel is usually formed into a cylinder, chilled, and then sliced into disks for serving atop meats such as steak and fish. Your chef can also use it as a condiment for eggs, potatoes, bread, and vegetables.

Ingredients for a Traditional Maitre D'Hotel Butter:

  • Softened unsalted butter
  • Lemon juice
  • Finely minced parsley
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Some chefs add the following ingredients to their Maitre d’Hotel butter recipe:

  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Shallots
  • Dijon mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce

Compound Butter FAQs

Compound Butter Rolled into Log Next to Garlic

Because compound butter encompasses such a wide variety of flavor combinations and potential flavorings ingredients, questions often arise when preparing a compound butter recipe. We’ve answered the most common compound butter making, using, and storing questions below.

How Long Does Compound Butter Last?

Compound butter stays good for a week in your refrigerator and for a month in your freezer.

What Is Compound Butter Made Of?

By definition, ‘compound’ is a descriptive word used to describe items composed of two or more parts, elements, or ingredients. So, compound butter is butter combined with at least one additional ingredient. However, most compound butter recipes will include several ingredients. Depending on the ingredients you add, you can make your compound sweet or savory.

The foundational compound butter ingredient is unsalted, softened butter. Using unsalted butter keeps your salt levels from becoming overwhelming when you add your other ingredients. Although butter is the defining factor, you can create a plant-based compound butter by using plant butter or margarine.

Can Dried Herbs Be Used for Compound Butter?

Woman cutting ingredients to make a compound butter next to bowl of butter

The storage life of fresh herbs is brief, causing many to wonder whether they can use dried herbs in their compound butter. The quick answer is yes, you can use either dried or fresh herbs in a compound butter recipe.

As with any recipe, choosing dried vs fresh herbs requires you to adjust your ratios. As a guideline, use 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of crumbled dried herbs for every 1/2 cup (cube) of butter. In contrast, you’ll want to use a full tablespoon of finely chopped fresh herbs per butter cube.

Bear your herbs’ strength in mind when forming your ratios. For example, you may need to reduce the amount of dried sage and increase the amount of basil to achieve a rich, but not overpowering herb flavor. If you’re working with ground seeds such as dill or fennel, you’ll only want to use a 1/2 teaspoon per 1/2 cup of butter.

Can You Bake with Compound Butter?

Butter, nuts and other ingredients in bowls on table

A compound butter will add rich flavors to baked goods. Confectioners commonly use compound butter varieties to make glazes, fillings, and frostings. Undoubtedly, compound butter is more difficult to measure than sticks of butter. Since baking is a precise art, you’ll want to use a recipe conversion calculator when incorporating compound butter into your bakery’s recipes.

However, if you’re watchful, you can truly elevate your baked goods by using a compound butter. Just imagine it; snickerdoodles laced with a limoncello and lemon zest compound butter. The options are as endless as they are decadent.

Attention to detail and a mastery of seasoning elevate meals to dining experiences. You can create memorable dishes customers rave about and return to with compound butter. Reference our compound butter ratio recipe as you experiment with different ingredients and use our compound butter pairing suggestions to kick-start your imagination.

Posted in: Recipes | Menu Tips | Kitchen & Cooking Tips | By Corrinn McCauley
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