How to Make Compound Butter

Sarah MickeyAll Recipes, Culinary Tips & Techniques, Herb Recipes, Lavender Recipes, Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Sauce Recipes, Produce Recipes, Wasabi Recipes 5 Comments

What follows is a description of what compound butter (aka flavored butter) is and the basic technique used to make it.  Scroll all the way down to the bottom for a chili-lime compound butter recipe, a wasabi butter recipe, and additional suggestions for making your own flavored butter.

What is Compound Butter?

Compound butter is essentially a flavored butter made by mixing herbs, spices, and other flavoring ingredients into softened butter.  Just about anything can be used to flavor compound butter. It can be made sweet (for example, toasted pecans, maple syrup) for desserts, waffles, and pancakes, or savory for fish (dill butter on coho salmon fillets) or meats (sage butter for kangaroo meat).

Compound butter is a great trick for the home chef to have up their sleeve.  It’s easy, can be done well in advance, adds a lot of flavor and can really impress your guests.

How to Make Compound Butter:

It is really important to have good quality, unsalted butter for making compound butter. You need to be able to control the salt level to compliment the other flavors you mash in.  For the depicted batch we’re simply using sage, salt, and pepper for flavoring.

Step 1: Soften the Unsalted Butter
Soften unsalted butter by leaving it out on the counter for about 30 minutes.


Step 2: Prepare Flavoring Ingredients
Fine chop or grind ingredients so they will disperse through the butter evenly.

Step 3: Mash the Ingredients into the Butter
In a bowl mash the butter with small pieces of your flavoring ingredients using a fork or spatula.  In this case we’re using finely sliced fresh sage and salt & pepper.


Step 4: Package & Harden
Now that the butter is finished, it needs to harden again in the fridge either in a covered bowl (great for making quenelles), or rolled into a tube of parchment or wax paper.  Wrap in an additional layer of aluminum foil if freezing.

Chile-Lime Compound Butter Recipe:

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest
3 tsp homemade chili powder (we used 2 tsp of powder from dried New Mexico chilies plus 1 tsp powder from dried Tepin chilies)
3 tsp salt

Simply use these ingredients while following the general compound butter method above for a tangy & spicy bright orange butter, perfect for vegetables, fish, and other savory applications.

Wasabi Compound Butter Recipe:


½ stick of unsalted butter
2 tsp soy sauce
1 ½ tbsp fresh wasabi
1 pinch Portuguese sea salt

Grate the fresh wasabi (how to grate fresh wasabi), and let it rest for ten minutes.  Combine with other ingredients while following the general compound butter method above.  The resulting butter can be used on meats but will work particularly well with seafood.  If desired, you could also add finely grated fresh ginger.

Other Compound Butter Suggestions:

Just about any ingredient can be used to flavor compound butter.  Here are a few suggestions:

Savory ideas:
Cayenne pepper, fresh herbs (sage, mint, basil, thyme), cooked wild mushrooms, dill pollen, other ground dried chilies, ground dried porcini mushrooms, saffron or truffles, citrus juice or zest.

Lobster Roe Compound Butter Recipe

Sweet ideas: Ground lavender buds, seeds from Tahitian vanilla beans, finely diced toasted nuts (walnuts or pecans especially), specialty sweeteners, mint, honey, citrus juice or zest.

Similar posts: How to make Clarified Butter


Browse More:
Culinary Techniques
Fresh Wasabi Recipes
Fresh Herb Recipes
Dried Chile Recipes & Techniques
Spice Recipes

Comments 5

  1. This is so cool! We’ve had garlic butter and garlic and parsley butter, but never did I think of butter w/pecans and different treats. I notice you are using the Tahitian vanilla bean in the recipe, and can just imagine how delicious that would be. So tickled to see this and all sorts of possibilities are forming in my mind. Thanks. This is great.

    Lynn A.

  2. Pingback: What is compound butter? « Ask Marx Foods

  3. Pingback: What is a quenelle? « Ask Marx Foods

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