How to Make the Perfect Butter Board for the Holidays
Butter boards have gone viral because of their novelty and shock value. But they’re actually really delicious and easier to prepare than other boards. Here’s how I make mine.
What is a butter board?
The simple answer is that it is butter that is spread on a board. But it’s so much more than that! This is a recipe concept created by Joshua McFadden. And earlier this fall, Justine Snacks introduced the idea on TikTok and said she wants to make them the next charcuterie board because of how fun the concept is. It’s all about serving butter to a large group of people in a new unexpected way.
Butter boards may not actually become the next charcuterie boards, but I think they will play a large part in holiday entertaining this year because they are easy to prepare, look festive, have a shock factor associated with them, and only require butter (salted or unsalted) along with any other ingredients available on hand to prepare.
What’s fascinating about butter boards is that they seem over-the-top and elaborate. We are much more accustomed to butter being in the shape of a stick, ball or even a flower at a fancy restaurant — anything but a flat mixture spread over the entirety of a board. However, when you grab a piece of bread and swipe some butter onto it, it starts to feel more familiar and comforting.
How do you make a butter board?
The hardest part of making a butter board is having the right consistency of butter. You want to make sure that you’re using softened butter, not butter straight from the fridge or melted butter. How do you soften butter properly? There are a few methods I like: cubing the butter, which makes the smaller pieces easier to come to room temperature; covering the butter with a steaming cup or bowl; pounding the butter; or just leaving it out at room temperature for about 15 minutes. The most important tip is not to rush the softening process and attempt to melt the butter (don’t turn to the microwave!) because it creates a different texture even after it cools.
Once the butter is softened, you’ll use a small knife or spoon to spread the butter as flat as possible onto any decorative board, cutting board or flat platter you have. I like to create small swirls in the butter because it allows for small crevices on that can collect the toppings you’ll add to the butter board, especially things like honey or jam.
After spreading the butter all over the surface area of the board, it’s time for the toppings. Sprinkle the toppings evenly all over the butter. Use a variety, but be sure not to overload the butter board with too many toppings. You want to make sure you can still see the butter underneath the toppings as it’s a main focus of the dish. And it makes it easier to transport the board for entertaining and fridge storage.
What are the best toppings for butter boards?
If you’ve seen some examples of butter boards on social media, you’ll notice that they can be sweet or savory, which makes them extremely versatile as an appetizer or even as a dessert. Using unsalted butter will allow you to sweeten the butter board easily or even keep it savory and control how much sea salt is added on top.
For savory toppings, think about using vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, seasoning, olives, roasted garlic, cheese, citrus and peppers. For sweet toppings, you can use fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs, jams, honey, citrus, glazes, coconut flakes, or chocolate. The possibilities are truly endless with the type of toppings you can choose for either the savory or sweet butter boards.
One of my favorite combinations is a simple and classic one that works great for the holidays using unsalted butter, dried cranberries, pecans, thyme, honey and sea salt. Those ingredients are easy to find during the holidays, they don’t spoil fast so that leftovers can still be enjoyed the next day, and they add a wonderful balance of sweet, tart and nutty flavors to the butter board.
What do you serve with a butter board?
The favorite choice here is crusty sourdough bread that makes it easy to swipe the bread across the board and slather it with the butter. But just like the endless array of topping ideas, you’ll also see that there are multiple options for serving the butter board as well, including pita chips, naan dippers, crackers, pretzels, and chips. Think about how you pair the flavor and texture of the dipper you’re using with the type of toppings you have and have fun with it!
Next time you’re wondering what to take to a friend’s holiday party or serve at your holiday brunch, try this butter board and get creative with the way you spread it, top it and serve it.