Move over charcuterie; there’s a new bougie board in town – the butter board.
This beautiful and easy appetizer is taking over dinner parties and elbowing out the heavy, and usually expensive, charcuterie board. But for some, the idea of a mouthful of butter and dried flowers scooped up on a piece of bread is less than appealing.
Don’t worry; we’re going to fix that.
What the Heck is a Butter Board?
Yup, I asked the same thing. Well, like most trends these days, it starts with TikTok. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the social media hit, but even I will admit that when it comes to cooking, you can’t beat TikTok for tips, recipes and hacks.
It appears that TikToker, Justine Doiron kicked off this most recent craze, crediting the butter board back to Joshua McFadden’s book: “Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables.”
The premise is simple. You take room temperature butter and artfully smear it onto a board, plate or platter and then top it with herbs, salt, nuts, dried fruit and other tasty items. Serve it up with your choice of bread. Much like the charcuterie board, it makes for an easy yet visually impressive appetizer that doesn’t require a ton of prep work and cooking.
Now, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first.
I saw plenty of visually appealing butter boards out there and thought to myself, “Wow! That’s gorgeous…but I don’t want to eat it.”
So, I did what I usually do. I put together my own creations and whipped up five butter board ideas I would actually eat.
Tips for the Best Butter Board
Use good quality butter.
I’m not saying you have to break out the Kerrygold, but I’m not going to use my GreatValue butter for this appetizer. It’s the most important ingredient, so you’ll want to use something that has great flavor on its own. Kerrygold, sweet cream cultured butter, or homemade butter – these are all great options.
Butter is heavy.
Choose toppings that will lift and compliment this fatty food; you want things like salt, sweet and acid. You need flavors that can hold their own, so now is not the time for dried rose petals. (Which no one wants to eat anyway.) You grate that lemon zest like you mean it!
Choose your bread wisely.
Yes, the star here is the butter and all the fancy toppings, but don’t forget to put some thought into your bread. A classic French baguette is always a great option, but if you’re serving up a sweet butter board, don’t turn your nose up at toasted cinnamon raisin bread. Or, if you want to accentuate something with many bright flavors, why not serve some dark pumpernickel. Warm scones or even cornbread are natural companions to the butter board. Bread shouldn’t be an afterthought.
Balance is needed.
Remember that whole no-one-wants-to-eat-a-mouthful-of-butter-thing? Yeah, this is why it’s important to make sure you have plenty of toppings on that artfully smeared butter. Because let’s face it, a butter board is just a deconstructed compound butter, and everyone loves compound butter. That’s because the ratio of butter to add-ins is perfect.
Only use your good boards.
Please, don’t use the cutting board you prep on. You want to use a board that’s free of cuts and scars. A platter or nice plate is equally lovely.
Always provide spreaders.
We all know there are double-dippers among us. Head them off at the pass by providing a spreader or two for your butter boards.
Organic Dried French Lavender Buds and Black Truffle Honey
I love me some fancy ingredients. But not everyone lives where they have easy access to things like black truffle-infused honey or organic fennel pollen. I created these boards using ingredients that most of us can find in our local supermarket or, even better, already in our pantry.
But Tracey, What About Food poisoning?
Look, can we please stop with the whole butter needs to be refrigerated thing? Most of the world doesn’t refrigerate their butter because it simply isn’t necessary. Butter is mostly fat, and it’s a low-moisture food. You throw some salt in there, and it’s very hard for bacteria to grow in butter. As in, it takes weeks, or other contaminants need to be introduced.
Leaving butter out to soften and then serving it hours later is perfectly safe.
However, since you’re adding other perishable ingredients, you will need to refrigerate your leftovers once your party is over. Hopefully, your board will be such a hit that there won’t be any.
Okay, let’s make some butter boards that you’ll actually want to eat.
Putting these together is all pretty much the same. Start with one 4 oz. stick of room-temperature butter.
Using a rubber spatula or icing spreader, smear the butter across your board. You want it thick enough to cover the surface but not so thick that it becomes unappealing. Aim for about a 1/3” inch thick. If you want to make it into a shape, go for it; if not, it will have a lovely rustic appeal.
Next, sprinkle, smear or drizzle on the ingredients in the order they are listed.
Serve slices or chunks of bread alongside it. Don’t forget that spreader. It’s as simple as that.
1. Oh, We’re Having Pasta? – a Bruschetta Inspired Board
I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to serve pasta without some sort of bread accompaniment. Instead of the same old garlic bread, let’s mix things up a bit and serve up this tasty mix of classic bruschetta components as a butter board.
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced, let stand for ten minutes before sprinkling over the butter and then lightly pressing into the surface
- 1/2 cup of chopped and drained sun-dried or roasted and marinated tomatoes
- 2 tbsp fresh, shredded basil leaves
- 2 tbsp of grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- Generous pinch of flaky sea salt
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinegar glaze, drizzled
2. Brunch Butter Board
I thought the bright and zingy flavors of cranberry, ginger and lemon would make for a nice brunch butter board. Serving this with toasted English muffin quarters would not be remiss.
- Zest from one lemon
- ¼ cup of dried cranberries
- 2 tbsp chopped candied ginger
- ¼ cup of sliced almonds
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tbsp honey, drizzled
3. Pumpkin Spice Board
This is for all the basic ladies out there; you know who you are, living your best PSL life. I’ve got you covered. This one just tastes good in the fall and would be perfect for Thanksgiving. You know, have some carbs with your carbs. I think this would be amazing served with a quick bread like zucchini bread or even pumpkin bread.
- 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree (it’s okay, use the canned stuff), smeared over the surface of the butter
- Dash ground cinnamon, sprinkled
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Dash of ground clove
- 2 tsp brown sugar, sprinkled
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tbsp maple syrup, drizzled
4. Southwestern Butter Board
Do I even need to say it? Oh, I do?
This would go great with cornbread and chili.
- ½ cup of lightly sauteed minced poblano peppers and red onions, cooled
- Zest of one lime
- 2 tbsp hot honey; if you don’t have hot honey, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to plain honey before drizzling it over your butter board
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
5. Last-Minute Butter Board
This one is easy and tasty and makes a great last-minute appetizer or snack for when company drops by. This is the perfect butter board to serve with scones, still warm from the oven and a bit pot of tea.
- All the jars of jam floating around in your fridge, spread several tablespoons of each across the butter
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Zest of one lemon
- A healthy sprinkling of whatever fresh herbs you have to hand, appropriate choices would be rosemary, thyme, basil or mint