Garlic butter is an easy secret “sauce” to have up your sleeve for use at a moment’s notice. Pasta cooked but no sauce for tossing? Drop a knob of garlic butter in for the win. Baguette toasted but a bit dry and boring? Swipe some garlic butter on for the best garlic bread you’ve ever had. Have some shrimp in the fridge but no plan for using it up? Sauté them with some garlic butter and eat with your hands as quickly as you can.
So, as you can see, there are many uses for garlic butter in everyday home cooking. It’s an easy, super flavorful “condiment” that can be made quickly and stored for later use in the fridge or freezer, and it serves as a great entrance into the world of compound butters in general.
Compound butters are typically seen as flavor enhancers for finished or nearly finished dishes, and are really just softened butters whipped and mixed with aromatic ingredients from herbs to citrus juices, spices or pastes to cooked mushrooms. Set a slice over grilled vegetables or meats, melt some into perfect mashed potatoes, or serve alongside fresh bread—here’s our simplest take on homemade garlic butter, plus 8 fresh ideas for making delicious compound butters.
How to Make Homemade Garlic Butter
To make garlic butter, you only need a few tools and ingredients before getting started.
- 1 stick softened unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs (think chives, rosemary, thyme, parsley)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Cutting board
- Medium bowl and a fork
- Parchment paper or plastic wrap
- Cut softened butter into chunks and put into the bowl. Peel and mince the garlic and mince the herbs and add to the bowl with the butter. Season with salt and pepper.
- Use the fork to mash the ingredients together until very well combined. If you want to make this process even easier, you can add the minced ingredients and butter to a food processor and mix together.
- Transfer the butter to a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Fold the piece of parchment or plastic wrap up over the butter, and press and pull gently to form the butter into a thick log, working it a bit to remove any air pockets from inside the log.
- Wrap tightly and transfer the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours. It can keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks if transferred to an airtight container. Place the package of butter into a resealable freezer bag.
You can freeze homemade garlic butter for up to 6 months, if desired, just note that the herbs may lose some of their delicate aromatic flavors the longer the butter is stored.
8 Ways to Make Your Butter Even Better
Now that you see just how easy it is to make your butter even better, here are a few other flavor-packed ideas to experiment with.
Garlic miso butter: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 1 clove garlic, 1 1/2 tbsp white or red miso
Sun-dried tomato butter: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper
Mustard-tarragon butter: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 1 tbsp grainy mustard, 1 tbsp minced tarragon, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper
Lemony dill butter: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp minced dill, 1 tsp salt
Olive butter: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 2 tbsp minced black olives, 1/2 tsp black pepper
Spicy cilantro butter: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 2 tbsp minced cilantro, 1 tsp hot sauce
Caramelized onion butter: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 2 tbsp cooled caramelized onions, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp grated parmesan cheese
Chipotle-lime butter: 1 stick softened unsalted butter, 1 tbsp minced chipotles in adobo, 1 tsp lime zest, 1 tsp lime juice