Butter boards are the new charcuterie boards! Find out how easy it is to make these beautiful and delicious boards for your next party, or even just for a movie night in.
Butter boards went viral all over social media, newspapers, morning shows and more after Justine Snacks shared her edible flower and herb butter board on TikTok. Her inspiration came from a recipe in Joshua McFadden’s book, Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables.
So, what are butter boards exactly? Are they easy to make, do they taste as good as they look, and where do you start? I’ve got all the butter board info for you right here, plus recipes for five of the tastiest butter boards out there for you to try!
What Are Butter Boards?
It feels to me like butter boards are a combination of two well-known things. You know how when you go to a fancy restaurant they sometimes bring you a nicely flavored butter or an olive oil with herbs or spices in it, along with bread to spread or dip? I think butter boards are essentially that concept mashed together with the ever-delicious and always-trendy charcuterie board, where there are an assortment of things nicely arranged for you to taste.
And in fact, you can really think of building a butter board in a similar way to building a charcuterie board. If you want a charcuterie refresher, check out my easy how-to charcuterie tutorial. You’re taking a few things that taste good together but instead of arranging them separately, you’re doing light layers. And instead of it being meat, cheese, and fruit, it’s butter with herbs and other flavorings.
We’re going to get into how to make butter boards below, and lots of flavor ideas too, but a good place to start is to think about your favorite flavored breads (cranberry cinnamon, olive and rosemary, cheddar jalapeno). You see? If they go well together in a bread that gets spread with butter, they will work mixed with butter and spread onto bread!
How To Make Butter Boards
Size of the Board
You’re going to start by getting out a nice cutting board or platter. One stick of butter (that’s 1/2 cup) will cover about a 6-7 inch diameter, so you don’t need anything big. A butter board made with one stick (that’s 1/2 cup) of butter will serve about 4 people.
If you have a larger board that you’d like to use, you can either do two sticks of butter and have it serve 8 people, or you can spread your butter on just part of the board and then use the rest for the bread or crackers.
How to Spread the Butter
Be sure to use room temperature (softened) butter to make it easy enough to spread. Use the back of a spoon to spread the butter. You want to move the way you would to frost a cake. Just like when frosting a basic cake, you don’t want it perfectly smooth. Dips and waves add visual texture and also add spots for the other ingredients to naturally land. Once the butter is spread to about 1/8 of an inch thick, you can stop spreading it.
Note that some other recipes recommend using a layer of parchment paper between the board and the butter, that is, you’re spreading the butter onto parchment. The idea is that this will lead to easier cleanup. However, I found it more difficult to spread that way. And cleanup is actually pretty easy if you scrape the board into the garbage, rinse it with hot water, and then wash with hot soapy water. The butter comes off no problem.
Add Salt and Ingredients
There’s more info about choosing the ingredients below, but here are some general guidelines.
I use unsalted butter for butter boards so that I can add some crusty texture with coarse salt, like kosher or sea salt. If you’re using unsalted butter, then right after spreading it out, add the salt. If you’re using salted butter, you shouldn’t add salt.
After the butter and salt, you go in with your other ingredients. I’ll be telling you more about ideas for ingredients below. In general, you want everything to be in pretty small pieces. Imagine using a butter knife to scrape along the board picking up butter and items as it goes, and then lifting it to your bread to spread. Or, imagine dragging the bread itself on the board to pick up ingredients. You’re not going to be actually getting that much area of the board at once. If you want the full array of flavors to be in most bites, then things need to be small enough to all fit at once. I therefore try to keep all ingredients smaller than 1/2 inch, and even 1/4 inch if possible.
When it comes to adding all those things to the board, think about how intense the flavor of each one is. If it has a strong flavor, like rosemary or diced jalapeno, for instance, you would want to put less of it and have it be more spread out. If it’s a milder flavor dried cranberry or tomato, then you can have those closer together. A general rule of thumb for most items is to have them be 1 to 2 inches apart.
The only exception to the spacing would be a seasoning like paprika or cinnamon. For those, you’re going to sprinkle them on so thinking of spacing it in that way doesn’t make sense. Instead, think about how heavy the sprinkle will be. Cinnamon can have a heavier sprinkle than smoked paprika, which can have a heavier sprinkle than cayenne. To make a very fine sprinkle, don’t go straight from the jar. Instead, put some into the palm of your hand and then pinch it between your fingers. Hold it high above the board and move swiftly across as you let it fall.
Bread and Crackers
As mentioned, if you’re using a board that is larger than needed for your amount of butter, you can arrange bread and crackers right on the board. If your board is going to be full of butter, then you’ll put your bread and crackers on a separate board, plate, or basket.
As to choosing the bread and crackers, a variety is always nice. Having some sliced bread as well as some crackers achieves that easily. Choose bread that can be sliced into small slices. That allows people to have more dips onto the board. If your bread yields slices with a larger surface area, cut them in half or thirds.
Going with basic bread and cracker choices is always good. Simple sliced baguette and water crackers never offend anyone. If you want to though, you can think about the flavors on your board and choose bread and crackers accordingly. For example, if you’re doing the Italian Butter Board below, you might go with some cubes of ciabatta and some crisp grissinni breadsticks. For the Holiday Board, you could do bread with a cinnamon swirl and crackers that are studded with dried fruit. If you have any Tex-Mex flavors, tortilla chips can be the crispy choice.
Video: Watch An Easy Butter Board Being Made
Here’s a short video demonstrating the process that I outlined above. You’ll see that it really is very easy to make a butter board. The one in the video uses softened unsalted butter, coarse salt, black pepper, orange zest, fresh thyme, honey, and edible flowers. The recipe for it is given down below as well.
Choosing Specific Ingredients
So, you want to make a butter board and you know how to do it now. But what ingredients do you choose? When trying to decide on flavor combinations, you can think about your favorite cuisines or favorite dishes, and then choose a few ingredients or flavors from those. Another great tool is to use this wonderful book, The Flavor Bible. It’s organized by ingredients and then lists all the other flavors and ingredients that go with it. I always find so much amazing inspiration in there.
The Butter Board Formula
Once you know the flavor profile you’re going for, here is how you build it out to make sure the flavors are balanced and that everything tastes and looks amazing.
The Butter: Start with high-quality unsalted butter spread 1/8 of an inch thick.
Salt: Add salt with some crunch to it, a kosher salt or flaky sea salt is best for this.
Spice: Go in with 1 to 2 dried spices. Black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, and smoked paprika are great choices. Just remember that if the spice is really potent, add it from your palm, pinched between your fingers. Go high above the board and move swiftly across, so that it doesn’t get too concentrated in one place.
Zest: I almost always add citrus zest to my butter boards. I find that it counters the richness of the butter. Add it sparingly though because it can be overpowering.
Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs look so pretty, and their flavor is amazing. As with the spices, if they have a strong flavor, use less. To accomplish this, chop them finely and spread them out well. Great choices are tender thyme leaves, oregano, basil, flat-leaf parsley, and cilantro.
A Drizzle: A drizzle of something sweet will also enhance the flavor of the butter, and add interest. Honey, agave, maple syrup, and balsamic glaze are great choices. Remember that a little goes a long way here as well. If you want to get a really thin drizzle, pour some into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 10 seconds at a time until it’s really runny. Then scoop it with a fork or spoon and spatter it over the board.
Something Pretty: The herbs are all ready beautiful, but if you want a final amazing touch, edible flower petals are just the thing. You can order them on Amazon and sometimes find them at specialty grocery stores with the fresh herbs. If you’d like to go another route, chopped dried fruit or small bits of fresh fruit also look really luscious and colorful.
Six Easy Butter Boards
Now you know how to build out your own butter board, but if you’d instead want to follow my lead though, here are 5 easy butter boards that I’ve created and given you ingredient lists for, so you can just follow along and know that your butter board will be beautiful and delicious.
Whipped Feta Greek Board: I know, this one isn’t with butter. But as this butter board trend grows, I’ve been seeing all kinds of things being used instead of butter. So, let your imagination soar and think of all the tasty things that can form the base for your “butter” boards!
Orange and Herb (see recipe for this given below)
Can You Refrigerate Butter Boards?
It’s important that you use softened room temperature butter when making your board, otherwise it won’t spread. However, once the board is made, you can cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 36 hours. Note that some of the ingredients might not be as nice by then though. Since the boards are pretty quick to make, I recommend that you make them right before serving. They will stay nice and safe at room temperature for 4 hours. If you do refrigerate it, take it out 30 minutes before serving so that the butter becomes spreadable.
Now you’re a butter board expert! I can’t wait to see what you create. If you make a butter board, one of mine or your own, share it on social media and tag me, please, @cookthestory. Enjoy! -ChristinePrint
Here is the basic formula for building your own delicious and easy butter board. The ingredients used for the Orange and Herb Board in the picture and in the video above are listed in parentheses below.
Serve with your choice of bread slices and/or crackers (e.g., sliced baguette and water crackers).
Listen to me explain briefly about how to make a Butter Board, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground spice (e.g., black pepper)
- 2 tsp. citrus zest (e.g., orange zest)
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (e.g., 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves and 2 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves)
- 1 Tbsp. sweet syrup (e.g., honey)
- 2–4 Tbsp. garnish (e.g., edible flower petals)
- Onto a 6-7 inch diameter board or platter, use the back of a spoon to spread the butter to 1/8-inch thick.
- Sprinkle butter with the salt and dried spice. Add the zest, trying to avoid large clumps. Distribute the herbs evenly over top.
- Measure the honey into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 10 seconds to thin its consistency and make it easier to drizzle more finely. Drizzle honey evenly over top of the herbs. Top evenly with the garnish.