Herb butter tastes like a luxury but is so easy to make and use that it could become an everyday staple. Simply melt, and drizzle it over seafood or cooked vegetables for an instant sauce. Or, place a slice on top of a sizzling steak and watch it melt, infusing the flavors of the herbs into the meat. You can also spread softened herb butter onto small toasts to use as a base for delicious crostini appetizers.
Herb butter, also known as compound butter, can be part of elegant party fare or it can be an easy way to perk up a weeknight dinner. It is an excellent way to preserve fresh herbs, especially those like rosemary that lose some of their texture or flavor when dried. Parsley, cilantro (coriander), chives, tarragon, and chervil are also good candidates for herb butter.
Use the smaller amount of herbs called for in the recipe if working with especially strong tasting herbs such as sage and rosemary; be a little more generous with the amount you include when the herb is a mild one like parsley.
You can use either salted or unsalted butter; if you start with unsalted butter, you can add salt to taste. Those on salt-restricted diets may find herb butter is a flavorful way to skip the salt altogether.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 to 3 teaspoons fresh herbs (finely chopped)
- Optional: lemon zest (to taste)
- Optional: salt (to taste)
- Serving suggestions: steak, seafood, vegetables, or bread
Gather the ingredients.
Leave the butter out at room temperature until it softens.
Mince the fresh herbs and grate the lemon zest, if using.
Put the softened butter in a bowl. Add the herb and zest and using a fork, mash it all together until thoroughly combined.
Add salt to taste if you started with unsalted butter.
Scoop the herb butter onto a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper.
Shape it into a log by rolling it in the paper. Wrap the herb butter tightly and refrigerate.
Slice off portions to use on steak, seafood, vegetables, or bread and enjoy.
Storing and Freezing Herb Butter
Herb butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. You can freeze the herb butter to store for longer. Put the wax or parchment paper-wrapped herb butter into a freezer bag and freeze for up to six months. The herb butter will still be safe to eat after that, but the quality will decline significantly. Transfer the frozen herb butter to the refrigerator 24 hours before you intend to use it.
Using Herb Butter
- Use parsley plus lemon zest butter on steamed or boiled vegetables.
- Chive butter is great on baked potatoes.
- For cilantro herb butter, use lime zest instead of lemon zest for a great combination. Serve with grilled corn.
- Cut thin rounds of herb butter to serve at each place at dinner parties. Garnish each round with a fresh sprig of the same herb that is in the butter, if it's available.
- Drizzle melted herb butter over popcorn.