What are butter boards?
Butter boards have emerged as a social gathering sensation, blending artistry and gastronomy. These elegant platters, a delightful evolution of charcuterie boards, showcase softened, spreadable butter adorned with an array of savory and sweet toppings. Paired with artisanal bread, raw vegetables, or crackers, butter boards offer a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the origins, types of butter, flavors, and materials to craft the perfect butter board.
The history of butter boards is a relatively recent phenomenon, with the concept first documented by Joshua McFadden in 2017 in his cookbook, “Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables.” McFadden ingeniously described the assembly of a butter board, utilizing a cutting board as the canvas and layering it with butter, seasonings, and herbs.
However, it wasn’t until 2022 that this culinary artistry exploded in popularity, thanks to TikTok sensation @justine_snacks.
Since then, the availability of artisanal butter and various flavors of butter in supermarkets and grocery stores has skyrocketed.
Types of Butter for Butter Boards
When creating a butter board, the type of butter you choose is crucial to achieving a harmonious flavor profile. Here are some exquisite options:
artisanal butter flavors
Popular flavors of artisanal butter include
- garlic and herb butter: Infused with aromatic garlic and fragrant herbs, this butter adds a savory twist to your board.
- truffle butter: Elevate your board with the luxurious aroma and earthy flavor of truffles.
- pesto butter: Bring a burst of freshness with the vibrant flavors of basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan.
- rosemary butter: Experience the aromatic charm of rosemary, imparting a delightful herbal essence.
- sundried tomato butter: Infused with the sun’s essence, this butter offers a burst of sweetness and tang.
- cinnamon sugar butter: Perfect for sweet boards, this butter lends a comforting, sugary touch.
Quality Brands of Gourmet Flavored Butter
Quality brands of gourmet flavored butter include
- Dream Butters
- Epicurean Butter
a sweet fig & honey butter board
There are endless types of toppings you can add to your butter board. Here is a list of ideas you can select from to add to your next butter-covered board.
- bread: Artisanal bread, baguettes, rustic rolls, and crackers are excellent choices to serve alongside butter. Consider a variety of textures and flavors.
- crackers/pretzel sticks: Including an assortment of crackers, pretzel sticks and the like can provide a crispy and neutral base for your butter board.
- raw vegetables: Fresh and crisp raw vegetables like carrot sticks, cucumber slices, bell pepper strips, and celery add a refreshing contrast to the richness of the butter.
- cheeses: A selection of cheeses, such as soft brie, sharp cheddar, creamy goat cheese, or blue cheese, can provide a wonderful balance of flavors.
- fruits: Fresh or dried fruits like apple slices, grapes, figs, or apricots can offer a touch of natural sweetness and vibrancy.
- nuts: Roasted nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pecans can add a satisfying crunch and nutty flavor.
- jams and preserves: Sweet jams, fruit preserves, or marmalades can complement the butter beautifully, especially on sweet butter boards.
- honey: Drizzling honey over the butter or using honeycomb as an accompaniment adds a touch of luxury and sweetness.
- olives: A variety of olives, such as green, black, or stuffed olives, can introduce salty and briny notes to your board.
- pickles: Pickled gherkins, onions, or other vegetables can provide a tangy and crunchy element.
- fresh herbs: Sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or basil can serve as edible garnishes and flavor enhancers.
- spices and seasonings: Sprinkle spices like sea salt, cracked black pepper, or red pepper flakes to enhance the flavors.
- cured meats: If you want to include some savory elements, consider adding thin slices of prosciutto, salami, or smoked salmon.
- chocolate: On sweet butter boards, chocolate shavings or chocolate-covered nuts can be a delightful addition.
- crudités: Include a mix of blanched or lightly steamed vegetables like asparagus, broccoli florets, or green beans.
- dips: Offer complementary dips such as hummus, tzatziki, or a savory mustard for dipping.
- croutons: Homemade or store-bought croutons can provide a satisfying crunch and texture contrast.
- caviar: For a luxurious touch, consider serving caviar on your butter board.
- citrus zest: Grated lemon or orange zest can add a zesty, aromatic dimension to the spread.
- microgreens: These delicate greens can be used as a garnish, lending freshness and visual appeal.
- edible flowers: Edible flowers like pansies or nasturtiums can add an elegant touch and floral notes to your board.
- candied nuts: Sweet and crunchy candied nuts can be a delightful addition to sweet butter boards.
Don’t have butter? Make a peanut butter board.
If you don’t want to use butter, you can modify the foundational ingredient of your butter board by using one of these alternative spreads:
- hummus: A creamy and savory chickpea-based spread that pairs well with fresh vegetables and crackers.
- tzatziki: A Greek yogurt and cucumber dip with a refreshing and tangy flavor, perfect for dipping and complementing meats.
- olive tapenade: A flavorful spread made from olives, capers, and olive oil, offering a rich and briny taste.
- guacamole: Creamy and avocado-based, guacamole is ideal for adding a touch of freshness and a hint of spice to your board.
- baba ganoush: A roasted eggplant dip with a smoky flavor, great for adding depth to your spread.
- cream cheese: A classic choice that pairs well with both sweet and savory elements, such as smoked salmon or fruit preserves.
- nut butter: Options like almond butter, peanut butter, or cashew butter can provide a rich and nutty contrast, especially on sweet boards.
- pesto: A basil-based sauce with garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese, adding a burst of herbal flavor.
- ricotta cheese: Creamy and slightly sweet, ricotta cheese works wonderfully with honey and fruits on a sweet butter board.
- sour cream: A tangy and versatile option for dipping or drizzling over various items on your board.
- yogurt: Greek yogurt or flavored yogurt can add creaminess and a hint of sweetness to your spread.
- salsa: A tomato-based salsa with varying levels of spiciness can provide a zesty kick to your board.
- vegan spreads: Explore vegan alternatives like cashew-based cheese spreads or plant-based yogurts for dietary variety.
- chutney: Sweet and tangy chutneys, such as mango or apple, can add a delightful contrast to savory elements.
- labneh: A strained yogurt cheese with a creamy texture and slightly tangy taste, perfect for spreading or dipping.
- taramosalata: A Greek dip made from fish roe, lemon juice, and olive oil, offering a unique seafood flavor.
- soy butter: For a dairy-free option, soy butter provides a spreadable alternative with a mild nutty taste.
- cashew cheese: A vegan cheese alternative made from cashews, nutritional yeast, and seasonings, available in various flavors.
- sunflower seed butter: An allergen-friendly alternative to nut butters with a nutty taste and creamy texture.
- harissa: A North African chili paste that can add a spicy and smoky kick to your board.
Butter Board Materials
1. wood boards
Wood boards are a timeless and traditional option. Crafted from hardwood, such as maple, they often feature intricate carvings or decorative designs. They are not only durable but also lend a rustic charm to your presentation.
2. marble boards
Marble boards have gained popularity for their timeless elegance. Crafted from polished marble, they remain cool to the touch, keeping your butter fresh. While easy to clean, be mindful of their quality and thickness, as they may be prone to cracking.
3. ceramic boards
Ceramic boards provide a contemporary alternative to traditional wooden ones. Made from high-quality ceramic, these boards often showcase stunning patterns and designs. They are generally dishwasher safe but, like marble, may be susceptible to cracking.
4. glass boards
For those seeking a modern and chic look, glass boards are an excellent choice. Constructed from tempered glass, they are durable, heat-resistant, and scratch-resistant. Glass boards are also a breeze to clean, making them ideal for serving butter.
How can I make a butter board?
Here is a simple customizable recipe to make and enjoy your own butter board at home.
savory butter board
- savory flavored butter (e.g. truffle, pesto, garlic, etc.)
- chopped fresh herbs (e.g. basil, rosemary, thyme, dill, mint, etc.)
- chopped onions (e.g. red, green, yellow or white)
- lemon zest (optional)
- sliced/cubed bread (e.g. French baguette, sourdough, etc.)
- vegetables for dipping (e.g. carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, radish, etc.)
sweet butter board
- plain or sweet flavored butter (e.g. salted, cinnamon sugar, etc.)
- small fresh fruits (e.g. raspberries, blueberries, tangerine slices, sliced figs, etc.)
- dried fruits (e.g. cranberries, apricots, pineapples, etc.)
- honey (to drizzle)
- sliced/cubed bread (e.g. French baguette, sourdough, etc.)
- seeded crackers
- Decide whether you want to make a savory butter board, sweet butter board, or both. Gather the ingredients accordingly.
- Make sure your butter is softened for easy spreading by setting it on the kitchen counter for about 15-20 minutes or until around 60°F. (Note: to soften butter faster, cut it into small cubes)
- With a butter knife or spoon, spread a fairly even layer of butter on the entire board.
- Evenly sprinkle the herbs and onions, or fruits on the butter.
- Optional - add lemon zest and/or lightly drizzled honey.
- Serve with side plates of bread, vegetables and/or crackers.
The measurements depend on the size of your board. Use however much you need to cover your board.
Also, feel free to pick and choose whatever ingredients best suit your tastebuds. Even mix up the ingredients from the savory and sweet options if you like.
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Butter boards are a culinary delight that brings together flavors, aesthetics, and creativity. Whether you opt for savory or sweet, artisanal or brand-name butter, and a traditional or contemporary board, crafting a butter board is an art form that promises a memorable dining experience. So, gather your favorite ingredients, experiment with flavors, and create a butter board masterpiece that leaves a lasting impression on your guests.
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Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.