Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Make Compound Butter

Simply put compound butter is a combination of seasonings and a bit of acid mixed with softened butter and allowed to get cold in the refrigerator to set. Probably the most famous of compound butters is a French butter by the name of Maitre d’Hotel butter. Every graduate of Le Cordon Bleu quickly learns that any meal can be enhanced by using compound butters.

Don’t let the fancy French name fool you. Maitre d’Hotel butter and any of the other members of the compound butter family are easy to make at home. You simply whip flavorings such as aromatics, seasonings and acid such as citrus or wine into soft butter with a rubber spatula, roll it into a log, cover, and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. It can be made in advance and holds well in the freezer for several months. Compound butter is probably the easiest way to make a quick sauce and is excellent with grilled meats, chicken and fish, used as a sandwich spread, or to finish various sauces. The next time you fry an egg in butter, try Maitre d'Hotel butter in place of your normal butter. You'll really appreciate the taste difference.

My two favorite compound butters are Maitre d’Hotel butter, which is soften butter mixed fresh herbs and lemon juice, and a red wine flavored compound butter with minced shallots, fresh herbs, and dry red wine that we enjoy on grilled steak.

However, after searching the internet recently for compound butter recipes, I realized that the only limit to the flavorings you use in compound butter is your imagination. I found dozens and dozens of fantastic & unusual flavor combinations. I tried two exciting new compound butters that I found on the internet and there are others that I will tell you more about at the end of the post.

Today I’ve featured 3 compound butters – Maitre d’Hotel on the left, chipotle butter in the center and a curry butter with cilantro and mint on the right. If you would like to come up with your own flavorful combination , Michael Rulman, best-selling author, cooking authority and good buddy of Anthony Bourdain, suggests that you “think of it as you would a sauce – seasoning the butter with salt and pepper, adding an acidic component for balance and contrast (citrus or wine for instance) and appropriate aromatics – fresh herbs and shallots are most common.”   For more on compound butter from Michael Rulman, here’s a link to his blog.

I was offered an opportunity to try President premium European butter, made in the Normandy region of France, and that is the butter I’ve used in these recipes. President Butter is France’s #1 selling butter, where people consume more butter than anywhere else in the world. It is made cultured cream in the European tradition. President Premium butter is available in many supermarkets in the US, including Publix stores. We were anxious to taste French butter, because we were spoiled with the wonderful imported European butters available in the Bahamas when we lived there. We found President Butter to be rich and creamy and would highly recommend it.

The people at President sent three different butters to test – stick, spreadable, and a spreadable one with sea salt. I used stick butter in making the compound butters in this post. I will post more about the spreadable one next week.

Maitre d’Hotel Butter
Adapted from The New York Times Cookbook
Printable Recipe

1 stick best quality butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 - 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Using a rubber spatula, cream the butter and mix with remaining ingredients, adding lemon juice a little at a time and stirring until well blended. Turn the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap, form a log about 4” long, wrap closely in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least an hour. Slice into discs when ready to serve. Can be wrapped and frozen for several months. Great on steak or other grilled meat.

Chipotle Compound Butter
From Austin Food Lovers
Printable Recipe

1 stick best quality unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Zest and juice of 1 small lime
½ teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir with a spatula until well mixed. Turn mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form a log about 4 inches long. Wrap closely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least 1 hour or until firm. Slice into ½ inch discs when ready to use. Can be wrapped and frozen for several months. Great on any grilled meat, especially pork

Curry Compound Butter with Mint & Cilantro 
Adapted from Celebration Generation
Printable Recipe

Cilantro & mint may sound like a strange combination, but the mint takes away some of the bite from the cilantro without tasting sweet. Give it a try.

1 stick best quality unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon best quality curry powder (I like Madras)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir with a spatula until well mixed. Turn mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a log about 4 inches long. Wrap closely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least 1 hour or until firm. Slice into ½ inch discs when ready to use. Can be wrapped and frozen for several months. Great on vegetables such as asparagus and green beans.

There is a world of mindboggling combinations of flavored compound butter recipes on the internet. I was particularly impressed with the creative ideas that I found on Celebration Generation. Just to name a few savory combinations - mushroom and rosemary,  jalapeno, cilantro, lime & a splash of tequila, basil pesto (she says is great on popcorn), & caramelized onions with dried mushrooms. There is also has an impressive number of ideas for sweet compound butters including cinnamon or maple syrup and brown sugar, pureed fruit, whiskey raisins, Grand Marnier & dried cranberries. I could go on and on, but click here to see for yourself.

If you prefer your compound butters whipped instead of in a log, here’s a link to a tasty quartet of whipped compound butters from 101 Cookbooks that includes recipes for smoked paprika butter, dry desert lime butter, raw Serrano, and dehydrated strawberry compound butter.

For a excellent step-by-step photo tutorial on how to make compound butter and a great recipe for herb butter, click here to Brown-Eyed Baker.

For better viewing, click on photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Weekend Bites at Simple Recipes.    
Have a great weekend everyone.

Disclosure: I was given free samples of President's butter to try and I was not compensated for this post or my opinion. The opinions here are mine and mine alone. 


  1. They look incredibly beautiful Sam and add that special touch.

  2. Perfect timing for your post as the herbs will need harvesting soon. I usually have Maitre d'Hotel butter in the freezer. Have never thought to use it to fry an egg but will do that soon.


  3. I can't wait to make the curry butter. I just made an herb compound butter yesterday. We are suppose to have a frost tonight and it was a good way to use a lot of herbs from my herb box before they are gone..

  4. All three sound/look amazing. Something I rarely make...



  5. I love using Maitre d'Hotel ..especially on grilled steaks. And President butter...first started buying it in France when we were renting homes and doing our own cooking. I search for it in the US and always buy it. It is that good.

  6. Dear Sam, These butters are wonderful! The butter and a great loaf of bread; how divine. Catherine xo

  7. Beautiful butters Sam. I love that you can personalize the flavors. Can hardly wait to try some of the combinations. Will look for President butter when I am in Publix.

  8. I love compound butters. One of my favorites to put on steak has garlic, rosemary, and Worcestershire sauce...yum! These sound wonderful. Can't wait to try them.

  9. Sam, I don't know why we haven't thought about trying this! I'm thinking some kind of pesto accented butter plus your suggestions. We buy 2 lb cylinders of Amish butter...our a local produce market. It would mix well with a plethora of flavorings and spices. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  10. I keep saying I'm going to do this but keep not getting around to it - I've got two steaks aging in the fridge so if you'll send me the recipe for your red wine steak one, I'll make it for them.

  11. Hi Sam, these butters look wonderful. There is a restaurant in Phoenix that makes a chipotle one that we love. Will be preparing these to have on hand. Thanks!

  12. Great post Sam. I don't know why I had not thought of it. I love the idea of having some on hand for a quick sauce for meats or vegetables. I need to stick this in my culinary toolkit.

  13. Absolutely gorgeous! I love the colors and as soon as I saw the yellow one I knew it was curry and chipotle always catches my interest Sam! Looks like you'll be eating well for a while-enjoy:@)

  14. They sound and look incredible! Chipotle is my favourite!

  15. These look wonderful! I have made basil butter and tarragon butter -- shall have to try these!

  16. How fun! I look forward to giving them a try.

  17. Compound Butters really finish a least the Chipotle Butter that we had made dinner extra special! I love the variety that you have shared....Enjoy!

  18. I haven't made compound butter in a while, and your photos/recipes have inspired me. Speaking of photos, I found myself wanting to grab a butter knife. Thank you for always contributing such outstanding recipes to FF and for encouraging me to spread my wings in the kitchen.

  19. Hi Sam, precious...every Sunday night our friends all meet at a local Tex-Mex dive for early dinner & margaritas...tomorrow night I'm taking these butters. They will be delighted that I MADE anything, and I know every single woman will love and use them. Thank you so much for creating something even I can create. Much love...

  20. My question is, what's the reason to make these vs. just using a sauce? That they last longer, over several meals?

    1. Regarding the difference between compound butter and a sauce, many sauces are made by adding liquid to the fond (brown bits) left in the pan from browning meat. The cooking term for that is "deglazing" a pan. Then the sauce is built from there. Other sauces such as cheese and cream sauces are a whole other subject.

      If you grill the meat rather than brown it in a pan, you don't have the fond necessary to build a sauce. This is where compound butters come in. Compound butters are essentially flavored butters. They are used to flavor grilled meats or vegetables in place of a sauce. Compound butters can also be used as a building block for making a sauce and are also an excellent way to add additional flavor to cooked vegetables. You might call them "an easy sauce."

      Compound butters can be used to flavor most anything including popcorn or to frying an egg. They are a big asset to have on hand for busy cooks.

      I hope I've answered your question. For additional information you can google "sauces", "compound butters" and "fond" or "deglazing."

  21. They look delicious, Sam! I love making special butters like these when we have our gourmet group dinners.

  22. Absolutely a wonderful thing to make and have ready to put on meats and fish. Love it. Thanks for sharing your compounds on Weekend Bites.

  23. Hi Sam,
    I just love your Compound Butters, they are just beautiful. I can't wait to try each one of them so much flavor that we will just love.

    This is a fantastic recipe and thanks so much for sharing it with us. Hope to see you again real soon at Full Plate Thursday!
    Miz Helen

  24. I know this is supposed to be about the butter, but damn those pictures have perfect lighting. Great job on that. The butters rock too, of course :)

  25. Love compound butters. They so enhance many meals. This was a wake-up call to make some today while I still have chives and thyme growing in my garden. The photos are beautiful.


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