Easy herb butters are so much fun to make. Why? Herbs are addictive. I don’t mean that in a bad way, only that once you really get into growing and using herbs, you’re no longer satisfied with the status quo. You want more – more knowledge, more herbs to grow and more ways to use them. So why not use them in butter?
One of my ‘mores’ is making easy herb butters – easy to do and a frugal way to add a touch of elegance to the dinner table. But that’s only the beginning because this is where the fun starts – experimenting with herb combinations and different ways to use them. Even if you don’t have an herb garden, the small amount of herbs required to make the butters can be found in stores year round.
Easy Herb Butters
The basic easy herb butter recipe couldn’t be simpler. I use unsalted butter, but that is only personal preference. This works just as well with salted butter or even margarine, although with margarine the taste won’t be quite as good.
When garlic is called for, you can use minced or finely chopped garlic or do what I do. The day before making the herb butter cut the garlic into a tablespoon or two of melted butter. When ready to use, discard the garlic (will need to reheat the butter) and add the ‘garlicky’ butter to the mashed butter.
- Mash ½ cup of soft butter. Using a fork on a flat plate works best.
- Mash ½ tsp. lemon juice into the butter (this enhances the herb flavor).
- Using the fork, mash in anywhere from 1 to 4 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs, depending on the potency of the herb. The stronger the herb, the less you use. When experimenting with a new herb, start small – you can always add more. I find scissors give greater control and let me cut the herbs smaller than using a knife.
- Form the butter into whatever shape you want – log, balls, potted, etc.
- That’s it. Let the butter sit for a day in the fridge for it to fully absorb the herb flavor before using or storing.
If these easy herb butters are going to be used within a week, spoon them into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and store them in the fridge. If they are not going to be used within the week, they should be frozen – they will stay good up to six months in the freezer.
One of the best known uses of easy herb butter is garlic bread. But even that doesn’t need to be the same old, same old. Adding one or two different herbs to the garlic base can make garlic bread that’s uniquely yours. For example:
- Mash ½ cup softened butter with ½ tsp. lemon juice;
- Add 2 garlic cloves (minced, chopped or garlicky butter);
- Finely cut 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, fork into butter;
- Finely cut 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, fork into butter;
- Optional – Blend in 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese;
- This butter is a good choice to form into a log. To use, simply cut a slice or two off.
Besides using this on bread, try putting a slice or two of this butter into a slit cut into a roast or melt it over a grilled steak or chops; use it when making bread; or melt it for use as a salad dressing.
Other Easy Herb Butters – all butters start with the ½ cup butter and ½ tsp. lemon juice – only the herbs change. These are just suggestions and ideas to get you started. The appealing part about making these butters is to mix and match your favorite herbs – the ones that you like best.
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley finely cut. Great to drizzle over mashed potatoes or steamed carrots; insert some under the skin when roasting chicken; use in making bread or biscuits.
- 2 Tbsp. each fresh, finely cut parsley and basil, 1 or 2 Tbsp. ‘garlicky’ butter (optional). Melt over noodles or rice; use when making cream sauce for tomato soup; use in making bread or biscuits; spread on freshly baked bread.
- 2 Tbsp. each fresh, finely cut parsley and chives. Melt over baked potato; use in making cream sauce to pour over vegetables or for making cream soups; melt over broiled or grilled chicken breast.
- 2-3 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely cut. Melt over beans, cabbage, or lamb; use in making the cookie dough next time you bake chocolate chip cookies or add it when baking an apple dessert.
- 2 Tbsp. each of fresh mint and lemon verbena, finely cut. Use for chocolate cake batter or try it when making banana bread or one of your cookie recipes. Spread it on toast, bagels or muffins.
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon verbena, finely cut. Melt over broiled or poached fish; spread on berry muffins.
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lavender flowers, finely cut (make sure the lavender is an edible variety). Use this when baking a chocolate cake or lemon cookies; take a pat of this to insert under the skin of a roasting chicken; blend in some orange peel and use it next time you bake anything chocolate.
Different ways to pack & store the easy herb butters.
- The log – after blending the butter, set it in the fridge for a little while to firm up but not get hard. This makes it easier to handle when forming the log. When it’s firm enough, use your hands to form the log, then wrap it in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag, label and freeze. When some of the butter is needed, you simply cut off a slice.
- A melon baller is nice to use for the fancier butters that will be served at the table; I use two different sizes – a larger one for the mint-lemon balm butter and a smaller one for the lavender.
- Store in little pots, which can be kept in the fridge for the short time or in the freezer for longer storage.
- The butter can be frozen in ice-cube trays. Once it’s frozen, use a knife to pop the butter from the tray to transfer to a freezer bag.
Now it’s your turn. Would you make these easy herb butters? Think of all the times you use butter in baking, cooking, roasting, grilling, etc. Then think about the herbs you like best and which ones you feel would complement a particular dish – then combine the two. It’s that simple.
Talk to you again next soon, Lenie @ Frugal For Everyone
Time to eat…
P.S. Take a moment to check out my recipe booklet’s for sale on this site and purchase some of the tools I used for this “Easy Herb Butters” below. 🙂