Well-Stocked: Compound Butter

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on August 11, 2009

Welcome to Well-Stocked, a regular series on items that everyone should be keeping in the pantry and why they’re so multitalented. I’m starting out with compound butter, a freezer staple that takes a minimal amount of work to make but will pay off handsomely for months to come (sometimes years if you look at what’s in my own freezer!).

Compound butter is one of my go-to solutions for nights when we’re low on groceries and I’m trying to stretch things out with a basic grain or wondering how to cook a piece of fish for myself. It’s got all your great seasonings and fats rolled into one, so you don’t have to spend the time chopping and building a sauce on a weeknight.

ingredients for a garlic, shallot, sage, and tarragon compound butter

ingredients for a garlic, shallot, and herb compound butter


You don’t really need a specific recipe for compound butter—it’s really just a stick of room-temperature butter mashed together with whatever herbs or flavors you happen to have around, then rolled into a log and frozen. But here are a few of my favorites:

bagna cauda butter

bagna cauda butter



I could keep going—it would be so easy to do an Indian-spiced butter if you’re a curry fanatic, or even an Old Bay butter to keep in your beach house all summer for shrimp, crabs and clams. Leave your ideas in the comments, and we’ll add to the compound butter library.

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