Allow me to paraphrase Joey in that Thanksgiving episode of Friends: “What’s not to like? Butter, good. Toppings, good. Bread, good!” This is how I feel about the new butter board trend taking over TikTok and Instagram. And, dare I say, it may even surpass the classic charcuterie board.
Don’t get me wrong. I love charcuterie. The wide variety of meats, cheeses, spreads, and finger foods make it a perfect appetizer. But there’s something about the classic combo of bread and butter that’s simply irresistible. That probably explains why Brooklyn-based cook Justine Doiron’s mouth-watering butter board video has such a grip on me and the rest of the internet.
If you’re ready to kiss charcuterie goodbye and jump on the butter-board bandwagon, read on for everything you need to know to re-create this foodie trend at home.
What is a butter board?
At the risk of stating the obvious, a butter board is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a base of softened butter spread out on a serving board, garnished with toppings like herbs, spices, fruits, jams, nuts, edible flowers—you name it—and served with slices of warm bread for dipping.
Joshua McFadden, a chef and the original creator of the butter board, first shared this appetizer idea in his 2017 cookbook, Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables. In an Instagram post on the trend, he noted that he’s been serving it at dinner parties for years as a fun seasonal surprise. And I personally could not be more on board with this idea.
Why we love it
If you’ve ever put together a charcuterie board, you know it usually costs a small fortune to buy all the fixings. Luckily, that’s not the case with a butter board. The simple ingredients make it a much more affordable option that still packs a punch and will leave your guests feeling just as satisfied.
I’ve also found that butter boards are much more customizable than your typical cheese board. As someone who values sweet over savory snacks, this is a very important distinction for me. Instead of the salty meats and bold cheeses often found on a charcuterie board, a butter board can be loaded up with sliced fruits, honey, and warm spices like cinnamon. Yum!
But my favorite part? Much like other snack platters, butter boards are a perfect way to serve a crowd without actually having to cook. So if you, like me, hate spending time following a recipe in the kitchen, try whipping up a butter board for your next gathering instead.
How to create your own butter board
There isn’t one specific recipe to follow when creating a butter board, but you should keep a few guidelines in mind. First, it’s important your butter is soft and spreadable but not melted. If you need to quickly soften a stick of butter, here’s a hack that works every time: Microwave a glass bowl full of water until it’s hot, then pour out all the water and dry off the bowl. Place the warm bowl upside-down over the butter for a minute or two. The residual heat trapped within the bowl will help soften the butter without melting it.
Once you’ve spread out your butter foundation, it’s time for toppings. In a blog post on butter boards, Doiron suggested starting with a sprinkle of flakey salt and citrus zest before adding herbs, spices, or any other ingredients. As you select toppings, think about the overall flavor profile of your board. Will it include mostly savory elements like onions, garlic, and rosemary? Or are you in the mood for something sweeter, such as figs, honey, and nuts? The options are endless, but you’ll want to make sure all the flavors complement each other. Also, remember to chop the ingredients into small enough pieces so you can easily scoop everything onto a slice of bread.
Lastly, the name doesn’t have to limit your options. Yes, it’s called a butter board, but feel free to expand on that idea. Try playing around with other spreads like apple butter, peanut butter, or cream cheese. Or serve it with apples, graham crackers, or veggies instead of bread. Butter boards are easy to customize based on what you’re in the mood for or what’s in season. No matter how you top it, this appetizer is sure to impress your guests at any gathering.
What you’ll need
Replenish your supply of butter, then gather these essentials to create your own spread: