Fresh Herb Butter With Variations

Fresh herb butter

The Spruce

  • Total: 5 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1/2 cup (36 servings)

Herb butter tastes like a luxury but is easy to make and use that it could become an everyday staple. Melt and drizzle it over seafood or cooked vegetables for an instant sauce.

Herb butter can be part of elegant party fare or they can be an easy way to perk up a weeknight dinner. They are 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.

Herb butter is superb on fish and other seafood, and on almost any cooked vegetable. 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 butter
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons fresh herbs (finely chopped)
  • Optional: lemon zest (to taste)
  • Optional: salt (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for herb butter
    The Spruce
  2. Leave the butter out at room temperature until it softens.

    Leave butter out
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  3. Mince the fresh herbs and grate the lemon zest, if using.

    Mince fresh herbs
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  4. Put the softened butter in a bowl. Using a fork, mash it together with the herb and lemon zest until thoroughly combined.

    Butter in a bowl
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  5. Add salt to taste if you started with unsalted butter.

    Add salt
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  6. Scoop the herb butter onto a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper.

    Scoop herb butter onto parchment
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  7. Shape it into a log by rolling it in the paper. Wrap the herb butter tightly and refrigerate.

    Shape into a log
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  8. Use your herb butter on steak, seafood, vegetables, or bread and enjoy.

Storing and Freezing

  • Herb butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months.

  • You can freeze the herb butter to store for longer than a month or two. 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.

  • Chives butter is great on baked potatoes.

  • For cilantro herb butter, use lime zest instead of lemon zest for a great combination.

  • 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.

  • Melt herb butter and drizzle it over seafood after the seafood is cooked and just before serving.

  • Drizzle melted herb butter over popcorn.

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