Soften some butter and spread it on a charcuterie board. Add bits and drizzles of savory and sweet (and maybe a little heat), and then serve it up at your next party with crusty bread. It's guaranteed to tickle the tastebuds of all your guests and create a photo-worthy moment. What is it? It's a butter board, the latest TikTok sensation with a huge wow factor that's surprisingly easy to make. Even if you aren't the slightest bit artistic, butter boards will do the work for you, instantly elevating your next gathering.
Butter Board Basics
Do you prefer savory or sweet when it comes to snacks? Or, are you, like many others, fond of the delicious balance that comes from combining both? That's the great news about butter boards. They're sure to satisfy sweet tooths, savory lovers, people who like a balance of both, or even those who want a hit of heat. These ingredients are all combined with the sweet, creamy goodness of butter and the satisfying, toothsome chewy bite of your favorite crusty bread.
Before you make one of the photo-worthy butter boards below, first brush up on everything you need to know to make it a masterpiece.
Start With Soft Butter
As you might imagine, butter boards start with butter, or, if you prefer, your favorite vegan butter. For a butter board, it's worth the splurge to buy a high-quality butter. Or, make it extra special and make your own butter by churning (or shaking or food processing) heavy cream until it magically transforms itself into butter. In a food processor, it takes about 10 minutes.
To soften butter until it's spreadable and easy to work with, you can place the butter on a counter for a few hours or, to do it more quickly:
- Place butter on a small plate.
- Microwave a small, microwave-safe bowl full of water until it boils.
- Dump out the water and dry the bowl.
- Place bowl rim-side down over the butter for about 5 minutes to soften it perfectly.
Once the butter is soft, flavor it by mixing in herbs, savory bits, pretty ingredients like edible flower petals, or anything that adds a bit of flavor, color, and texture. You can also use it without any mix-ins and let the butter and toppings speak for themselves.
Spread It on a Board
Once the butter is perfectly, softly spreadable, spread it on a clean, sealed charcuterie board or on a clean wooden cutting board. There are no extra points for neatness here; spread it thickly with waves and wobbles that please your inner artist. A butter knife, offset spatula, or even a silicon spatula will work perfectly for this task. Spread the butter to about a quarter inch from the edge of the board; no need to neaten the edges. Butter boards are meant to be free flowing.
Sprinkle, Dollop, and Drizzle
Now comes the fun part...using tasty foods, fresh herbs, jams, syrups, vinegars, and more to decorate and add flavor to your base of butter. If you're using a jam, start by dolloping some on the butter. Next, toss on some solid items; think chewy sweet quartered figs, colorful dried apricots or cranberries, smoky bacon bits, crunchy pecan pieces, earthy pepitas, sweetly-oozing chunks of honeycomb--you get the idea. Really, the sky's the limit here. Once the solids are in place, it's time to drizzle (artfully, of course). You can drizzle anything that is drizzle-worthy: honey, vinegars, fruit syrups, wine reductions. Go ahead and drizzle it right over the top of everything. Then, sprinkle lightly with chopped herbs, colorful edible flower petals, grated citrus zest, or microgreens for a final pop of color and artistic flare.
Don't Forget the Bread
Once you've spread, sprinkled, and drizzled your way to the imperfect beauty of a butter board, what next? Bread! Slice up a loaf of crusty bread--baguettes are particularly good for this--and put it near the butter board for your guests to dive in. You don't have to use a plain white bread. Consider complementary flavors for the items on your butter board such as rye, sourdough, sweet molasses bread, bagels, pita, naan, soft pretzels, lefse, tortilla chips, or crackers. What really matters is that you supply something sturdy that will hold up as you and your guests use it to scoop into the butter board.
Beautiful Butter Board Recipes
There are so many options for butter boards, you'll be spoiled for choice, and sometimes that makes it a bit difficult to know where to start. But we've got butter boards aplenty here; use the recipes exactly as written or consider them a creative jumping off point to make your own masterpiece.
Honey & Thyme Butter Board
We'll start simple, but don't mistake simplicity with being boring. This butter board is sweetly savory and herbaceous. Consider pairing it with an equally buttery oaked California chardonnay, a fizzy glass of prosecco, or a grassy New Zealand sauvignon blanc for the perfect bite and sip combo.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh thyme
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup microgreens
- ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt or coarse Himalayan pink salt
- Baguette slices
- In a small bowl, stir together the softened butter and fresh thyme.
- Spread on a charcuterie board or wooden cutting board.
- Drizzle the honey in a thin stream over the butter.
- Sprinkle with the microgreens.
- Finish with a sprinkling of the coarse salt.
- Serve with baguette slices.
- Stir in ¼ cup of dried apples or pears when you add the thyme.
- Stir in 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest when you add the thyme.
- Add 2 finely minced garlic cloves when you add the thyme.
- Replace the thyme with chopped, fresh rosemary or chopped, fresh tarragon.
- Replace honey with hot honey (chili-infused honey).
- Add ¼ cup of crispy fried pancetta when you sprinkle on the microgreens.
Sweet, Smoky, & Spicy Butter Board
The combination of sweet, heat, and smoke is always a palate pleaser. This butter board has a little of each, making it a zippy appetizer that will wake up the palate. Serve it with a German riesling wine that has bracing acidity to balance the smoke and heat.
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon sriracha
- ¼ cup sweet chili sauce
- ¼ cup cooked crumbled bacon
- ¼ cup microgreens
- Sliced baguette (or any other bread)
- In a bowl, mix the softened butter and sriracha. Spread on a board.
- Drizzle with the sweet chili sauce.
- Sprinkle with the crumbled bacon and microgreens.
- Serve with the slices of bread.
- Replace microgreens with chopped, fresh cilantro.
- Add chopped green onions as a garnish.
- Add the grated zest of half a lime to the butter when you mix in the sriracha.
- Garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Honey Hibiscus Butter Board
Hibiscus is having a moment in the foodie world, and it's easy to see why. It's a sweet and delicious treat that's as colorful as it is tasty. So why not combine two trends - butter boards and hibiscus - for the ultimate trendy and tasty treat. Cut through the sweet with a glass of lemonade on the side (or a tart hibiscus margarita).
- 1 cup softened salted butter
- 1 teaspoon finely-grated lime zest
- ¼ cup dried, candied hibiscus flowers, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons lavender honey
- 1 tablespoons dried food-grade lavender
- Sliced baguette
- In a bowl, mix together the butter and lime zest. Spread on a board.
- Sprinkle with the chopped hibiscus flowers and pecans.
- Drizzle with the lavender honey.
- Sprinkle lavender flower petals over the top as garnish.
- Serve with sliced baguette.
- Use regular honey or hot honey (chili-infused honey) in place of the lavender honey.
- Sprinkle additional lime zest over the top with the lavender flowers for an additional pop of color.
- Add a few whole hibiscus flowers for garnish.
- Can't find hibiscus? Use dried cranberries or dried cherries instead.
Cranberry-Ginger Butter Board
There is so much good stuff in this butter board - from the spicy bite of ginger, to the tangy flavor of cranberries, to the delicate orange notes in the butter. What's not to love? It's perfectly classy (and tasty) when paired with icy-cold cosmopolitan cocktails or cosmo mocktails.
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon grated gingerroot
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary
- Sweet molasses bread
- In a bowl, blend the softened butter, orange zest, and gingerroot. Spread on a board.
- Sprinkle with the cranberries and pecans.
- Drizzle the molasses over the butter, cranberries, and pecans.
- Sprinkle with fresh rosemary.
- Serve with slices of molasses bread.
- Everything's better with bacon! Sprinkle some smoky, salty cooked and crumbled bacon when you add the cranberries and pecans.
- Replace the molasses with honey or pure maple syrup.
- Replace the butter with softened cream cheese or crème de brie (spreadable brie cheese without the rind).
- Replace dried cranberries with dried cherries or blueberries.
Fig & Balsamic Butter Board
Fresh figs are nature's candy, so of course they belong on a butter board! Looking for the perfect drink to pair? How about an old-fashioned made with a half teaspoon of fig jam in place of the sugar?
- 1 cup softened unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 8 figs, quartered lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- Sliced sourdough bread
- In a bowl, mix together the butter, thyme, and orange zest. Spread on a board.
- Arrange the fig quarters on the butter.
- Drizzle with the balsamic glaze.
- Sprinkle with the walnuts.
- Arrange the thyme sprigs on top and sprinkle with the sea salt.
- Serve with sourdough slices.
Vegan Pomegranate and Black Garlic Butter Board
Vegans (and people with dairy allergies) can enjoy the art of butter boards, too. You can use your favorite vegan butter (I really like Miyoko's Creamery vegan butter with a hint of sea salt) or a vegan cream cheese. It's perfect paired with a fizzy orange kombucha or a refreshing glass of lager.
- 1 cup salted vegan butter or vegan cream cheese, softened
- 6 cloves black garlic, finely minced
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup arugula microgreens
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Pita bread, cut into quarters
- In a bowl, mix the vegan butter or cream cheese with the garlic, black garlic, and red pepper flakes. Spread on a board.
- Drizzle butter with the pomegranate molasses.
- Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, microgreens, and lemon zest.
- Serve with the quartered pitas.
- Crumble a few tablespoons of vegan feta over the top.
- Replace arugula with fresh chopped oregano, rosemary, or chervil leaves.
- Replace chopped walnuts with toasted pumpkin seeds or pistachios.
- Drizzle a tablespoon of tahini over the top when you add the pomegranate molasses.
Apricot & Maple Cream Cheese Board
Lean into the sweet with a simple maple and apricot butter board made with cream cheese instead of butter. If butter sounds better, feel free to use it instead. This is a super kid-friendly butter board that's yummy served with a glass of sparkling apple cider, warm apple cider, or, for the adults, hard cider.
- 1 cup softened cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
- ¼ cup edible flower petals
- Toasted baguette slices
- In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and orange zest. Mix well. Spread on a board.
- Drizzle with the maple syrup.
- Sprinkle with dried apricots and edible flower petals.
- Serve with toasted baguette slices.
- Too sweet? Omit the brown sugar altogether.
- Add some crunch with ¼ cup of walnut pieces - sprinkle them on before you add the flower petals.
- Replace ½ cup of the cream cheese with an equal amount of your favorite nut butter.
Nut Butter Board
Got a kids' birthday party coming up? Or perhaps you and your pals are all just big kids yourselves? Great news! There's a butter board for you, too. A nut butter board, that is. I'm a huge fan of cashew butter, but please feel free to use your favorite creamy nut butter (or even chocolate hazelnut butter). Serve with glasses of milk or juice or a cup of hot chocolate.
- 1 cup creamy cashew butter (or ½ cup each of cashew butter and unsalted butter, mixed well)
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup shredded coconut
- ¼ cup cacao nibs
- Soft pretzels, graham crackers, animal crackers, or sliced apples for serving
- Spread cashew butter on a board.
- Drizzle with the honey.
- Sprinkle with the shredded coconut and cacao nibs.
- Use soft pretzels, graham crackers, animal crackers, or apple slices for dipping.
- Go all-in on the sugar if you've got a super sweet tooth by replacing the cacao nibs with dark chocolate or milk chocolate chips.
- Make it into a candy-bar themed butter board by replacing the honey with either chocolate or caramel syrup.
- Replace coconut with mini marshmallows or dried fruit.
- Add chopped peanuts or almonds as an additional garnish.
Everything Bagel Butter Board
Sometimes you just need a bagel, and a butter board makes the perfect schmear. So, if you love an everything bagel, this is the butter board for you. Serve with a cup of coffee or tea or, for something stronger, an espresso martini.
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon minced dried garlic
- 2 teaspoons minced dried onion
- 1 cup softened cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- ¼ cup flaked smoked salmon (or lox)
- 1 tablespoon drained capers
- Small fresh dill sprigs
- Mini bagels
- In a small bowl, mix the sesame seeds, caraway seeds, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic, and dried onion. Set aside.
- In a bowl, mix the softened cream cheese with the minced garlic. Spread on a board.
- Sprinkle with the seed mixture.
- Add smoked salmon or lox on top of the seeds.
- Garnish with a sprinkling of dill sprigs and drained capers.
- Serve with the mini bagels for dipping.
Jalapeño Popper Board
Back in the 80s, a hero emerged...a hero appetizer, that is. What was this amazing bite of food? It's the jalapeño popper, a cream cheese filled jalapeño, breaded, deep fried, and served with sweet and spicy pepper jelly. It's difficult to improve on such perfection, but if anything can do it, it's a butter board. Serve with a pitcher of classic margaritas for a modern update on a throwback snack.
- 1 cup softened cream cheese
- ½ cup sweet pepper jelly
- ¼ cup finely chopped jalapeños, ribs and seeds removed
- ¼ cup butter-toasted breadcrumbs
- Tortilla chips
- Spread the cream cheese on a board.
- Dollop or spread on the sweet pepper jelly.
- Top with the jalapeños.
- Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs.
- Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.
Looking for something a little lighter? Not into dairy? There's a "butter" board for you, too - only without butter. Try a hummus board. It's super easy because you can use pre-made hummus - or make your own. Serve with a sweet-tart lemon drop martini.
- 2 cups prepared hummus
- ¼ cup pesto
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- ¼ cup black olive slices
- 8-10 basil leaves, torn
- 2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- Pita chips or tortilla chips for dipping
- Spread the hummus on a charcuterie board.
- Dollop or drizzle the pesto on.
- Top with sun-dried tomatoes, black olive slices, and basil leaves.
- Drizzle with the garlic-infused olive oil.
- Sprinkle with the pine nuts and grated lemon zest.
- Serve with pita or tortilla chips for dipping.
- Serve with several steamed artichokes and dip the leaves into the hummus board.
- Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of capers for a briny bite.
- Replace the black olives with chopped artichoke hearts.
- Add roasted garlic cloves when you add the sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
Butter Board Tips and Tricks
Butter boards are a straightforward, creative endeavor. However, there are a few things to keep in mind, both for safety and creativity.
- If you're worried about using a board (or if you don't have one), a platter, plate, or tray will do as well.
- Make sure the board you use is sealed and doesn't have any cracks or nicks where bacteria can hide and potentially make you and your guests sick.
- Don't use a cutting board that you have used for raw meat, as bacteria may remain that can contaminate your butter.
- Make the butter board just before you serve it so it doesn't sit out at room temperature too long. Throw away leftovers.
- If you want, you can include serving utensils so people don't dip their bread straight in or double dip.
- You can use more or less of the toppings depending on your own aesthetics.
- Completely cool all cooked items before putting them on or in the butter.
- If using unsalted butter, make sure you include a bit of salt or a salty ingredient to draw out all flavors.
- Do not soften butter in a microwave or on the stovetop. You want it fluffy soft, not oily soft.
- Along with bread, lay out some sandwich meats - ham, prosciutto, turkey, roast beef, etc. - so people can add protein toppings if they want.
Things to Use Instead of Butter
Sure, you can use butter. But there are other things to try as well.
- Cream cheese
- Crème de brie
- Spreadable cheeses like Boursin or Rondele
- Nut butter
- Seed butter
- Canned frosting
- Pumpkin butter
- Apple butter
- Hummus or baba ganoush
- Refried beans (cooled)
- Cooked beans, mashed and cooled
- Guacamole or mashed avocado (sprinkle with fresh lime juice so it doesn't go brown)
Toppings can range from dollops of jam to sprinkles of nuts.
- Fresh herbs
- Fresh greens
- Caramelized onions (cooled)
- Jams, jellies, and preserves
- Hot chili jelly
- Dried fruits and freeze-dried fruits
- Chopped nuts
- Hemp hearts
- Roasted vegetables (cooled)
- Roasted garlic cloves (cooled)
- Roasted mushrooms (cooled)
- Roasted bell peppers/pimentos (cooled)
- Sliced olives
- Chopped cornichons
- Sweet corn
- Sliced or chopped chili peppers
- Cooked and drained legumes like chickpeas, peas, or black beans
- Cooked and cooled bulk sausage
- Chopped dried sausage
It's all about the drizzle, baby. Drizzle is not only pretty, but it packs a punch of flavor. So what could you drizzle?
- Herb-infused olive oil
- Infused syrups
- Wine reductions
- Fruit syrups
- Pure maple syrup
- Ice cream syrups (caramel, hot fudge, butterscotch)
- Honey and flavored honey
- Jams and preserves that have been heated so they melt
- Agrodolce (vinegar and sugar reduction)
- Reduced fruit juice
Garnish matters when you're trying to wow the world. And in the case of butter boards, it not only adds gorgeous color, but also flavor.
- Edible flower and flower petals
- Herb sprigs
- Sesame or chia seeds
- Crumbled cooked bacon or lardons
- Crumbled cooked pancetta, prosciutto, speck, or other salty meats
- Coarse sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
- Freshly-cracked black pepper
- Chopped chives
- Chopped green onions
- Crispy fried shallots or onions (cooled)
- Crispy fried potato strings (cooled)
- Chocolate shavings
- Cacao nibs
- Chocolate chips
- Citrus zest
- Candied ginger
- Shaved truffles
- Small candies
Butter Makes It Better
Having an impromptu party and don't know what to serve? Butter board! Want to combine art and a nosh? Butter board! Too hot to cook? Butter board. That's right. Every occasion is a butter board occasion. They're versatile, flavorful, and they look good, too. So gather your friends and family around your latest butter board creation and enjoy some bonding time, butter board style.