compound butter on a filet

Everything is Better with Butter(s)

Last Updated on August 21, 2023

You already know that butter by itself is delicious and adds flavor and richness to everything it touches. Here’s a way to take this refrigerator staple to a new level: Transform it into compound butter by softening it and mixing in chopped herbs, spices, or other flavorings.

Compound butter is the ultimate culinary cheat. It’s super easy to make, you can prep it in advance, it’s so versatile—it’s even a good way to use up scraps of herbs and other bits in the fridge.

And yet, it sounds so fancy and can elevate just about any dish.

How to Use Compound Butter

Make one kind of compound butter to top steak, fish, chicken, and vegetables—or prep a few different varieties and keep them in the fridge or freezer so you can dress up dishes any time. Below are some simple but really flavorful options; try them, tweak them to suit your tastes, or make up your own.

compound butter on pancakes

Pro Tip: Compound butter can be savory or sweet. If you’re making a few different varieties to keep on hand, pick one or two that will elevate pancakes, waffles, toast, fruit crumbles, or other sweet dishes like the cinnamon-honey compound butter below.

How to Make Compound Butter

To make compound butter: Allow unsalted butter to stand at room temperature until it’s easy to mash with a fork (do not let butter melt). Chop, mince, or measure add-ins, and stir into butter with a fork until well combined. Form butter into a cylinder, wrap in parchment or plastic wrap, and refrigerate, or place wrapped compound butter in a freezer bag and freeze.

Alternatively, you can spoon compound butter into a small bowl or ramekin, cover, and refrigerate or freeze.

various compound butters

Here are some of my favorite compound butter mixes.

Roasted Garlic Butter

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/8 tsp raw honey
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt

Lemon-Pepper Butter

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp lemon zest –
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt

Cinnamon-Honey Butter

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ tsp raw honey
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch fine sea salt

Chili-Lime-Cilantro Butter

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp finely minced fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt

Miso Butter

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp miso
  • 1/8 tsp raw honey

Beth Lipton is a Brooklyn-based recipe developer and writer specializing in food and wellness. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Paleo magazine,, Well+Good, Outside, and more. Beth's latest cookbook, Carnivore-ish, featuring 125 animal protein-forward recipes, is available now.