Social media loves just about anything beautifully spread onto a board. You might think we've seen everything from tacos to pancakes to chocolate and booze. Enter: The Butter Board. As someone with a literal stick of butter tattooed on their arm and an insatiable appetite for all things carbs, I (for once) give my full support to this movement. I mean, you're lying if you say don't already spend hours watching endless satisfying butter content.
If your initial reaction is a firm "no, thank you," we get it. Seems like a classic American move to pile as much fat on a plate as possible, but that's not the point. The beauty of this trend lies in how easy it is for anyone to get involved and create their own masterpiece. It tosses aside the idea of annoying compound butter, making it even easier to enjoy layers of flavor schmeared over bread (or, really any vessel) while hanging with your friends. Serve a savory version with soft sourdough or a sweet take with decadent pastries—the options are pretty endless. Plus, butter boards make for a stunning centerpiece at your next party.
Find out what precisely a butter board is, how to get creative with the process, and my personal favorite butter board recipe.
What Is a Butter Board?
Justine Doiron of Justine Snacks took social media by storm with her butter board, but she actually credits chef and cookbook author Joshua McFadden with its origin. In fact, he features "the recipe" in his 2017 cookbook Six Season: A New Way with Vegetables. Though McFadden takes a more cheffy-tweezer approach with edible flowers, Doiron opts for having fun with her favorite snacks on hand.
That said, this is the perfect recipe that you don't need a recipe for. Simply create dreamy swirls of good (emphasis on good since this is the star of the show) softened butter across a clean charcuterie board or platter, then sprinkle your flavors over top. We suggest having a theme in mind otherwise you end up like me at a salad bar mixing and matching things that should never go together. We'll dive into different possibilities for toppings and dippers in a little bit...
What Equipment Do You Need?
When we said no-fuss, we meant it. But, there are a handful of tools that make this butter adventure even more fun.
- Serving platter: This actually doesn't need to be a board. Depending on the number of mouths you have to feed, this can just be a large plate or a decorative wooden board.
- Offset spatula or spoon: This is your spreading tool. An offset spatula makes this as easy as spreading buttercream, but a big spoon works in a pinch.
- Microplane: Use this to zest citrus, finely grate cheese or anything else you can think of.
- Mandoline: Grab this if you envision thinly sliced radish, carrot, or another colorful veg on your butter.
- Sharp knife: You can achieve clean, even cuts of ingredients with a good knife. Plus, this will come in handy for cutting bread or other dippers for serving.
What Do You Put on a Butter Board?
Consider the ride you want to go on. What's the vibe? What are you craving? What textures do you want? You can make this as simple or as intricate as you like. It's your butter journey and we fully support some experimentation. However, the one rule is to use quality butter. We're talking nice European butter because the water content is lower, so it is softer and richer than American butter.
Below, you'll find savory and sweet ideas, but feel free to mix and match these. For example, we love the combination of chili crisp, honey, toasted nuts, and fried shallots. Just make sure your toppings are the optimal size for scooping and devouring immediately (no extra utensils, here).
- Flaky sea salt (arguably, the most vital ingredient after butter)
- Pickles onions
- Crispy, fried onions or leeks
- Finely grated cheese
- Thinly sliced radish or cucumber
- Fresh or dried herbs
- Chili Crisp
- Roasted garlic
- Sliced cherry tomatoes
- Chopped olives or tapenade
- Crushed chips
- Crumbled bacon
- Capers or pickles
- Maple syrup
- Pumpkin or apple butter
- Citrus Zest
- Warm spices (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, clove)
- Chopped toasted nuts
- Granola or streusel
- Caramel sauce
What to Serve With It
You built the board, it looks stunning, and now it's time to dive in. What's the best option for scooping up every last morsel? Well, how many things can you imagine spreading butter on? Here are a handful of easy options, but you could serve it with anything from matzah to pancakes.
- Crusty bread (sourdough, baguette, Cuban, etc.)
The Caesar-Style Butter Board
If I'm going in deep on one of my favorite dishes, butter, then I'm getting one of my other passions involved: The Caesar Salad. It seems obvious those pungent flavors of salty anchovy, woody Parmesan, bright lemon, sharp garlic, and fresh greens lend themselves well to a slate of butter, but it's even better than you imagine. I throw in a couple of seasonal ingredients for texture and aesthetic, but otherwise, I keep it true to the classic Caesar. If you have extra time on your hands, I suggest throwing in some fried capers and crispy shallots.
- 1 loaf crusty bread, sliced
- 1 lb. European butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 tin anchovy
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
- 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 pint Sungold or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 ounces microgreens
- Flaky sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Lightly fry the bread in a skillet or toast in the oven. These are your "croutons."
- Use an offset spatula to spread the butter across a large platter or board, creating decorative swirls. Leave a border of a couple inches around the outside to lay the bread.
- Coarsely chop the anchovies, reserving the oil in the tin. Transfer to a small bowl. Grate the garlic into the bowl, then zest the lemon into the mixture. Add the Parmesan and parsley; stir to create a gremolata.
- Spoon the anchovy over the butter, then sprinkle the gremolata all over. Feel free to add more of any of the ingredients if you like.
- Lay the tomatoes across the top, then scatter the microgreens over top.
- Spoon as little or as much of the reserved anchovy oil over, then squeeze half of the lemon over top.
- Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, then season with black pepper. Tear the toasted bread in half, then scatter it around the border of the board. Enjoy!