Butter Boards Are Taking Over the Internet—Here's How to Make Yours Healthier
It wasn't long ago that cheese boards and charcuterie cups were taking over our feeds, and the newest trend to hit Instagram and TikTok makes it clear that the board craze is far from over. Butter boards, which encourage folks to smear butter on a cutting board, top with their favorite flavors and then scoop up onto bread, have arrived just in time for fall holidays like Thanksgiving and Rosh Hashana.
We've rounded up all the details you need to mimic the look, including some healthier topping combinations, so you can show off your skills at your next get-together.
What is a butter board?
A butter board is a simple way to display compound butter (or any butter, for that matter) for all your guests to dig into with warm bread. You just use a butter knife to create a base layer of softened butter on your favorite cutting board or serving plate, then top it with a parade of your favorite ingredients. Everything from edible flowers to caramelized onions will work on the blank canvas, so you can create a flavor palette that will complement dinner perfectly. (And bloggers have already shown that you don't have to be a bread-and-butter person to try your own twist on these boards—just check out these cheesy ricotta and cream cheese boards for extra inspiration.)
New York cook and influencer Justine Doiron helped popularize the butter board trend (check out her recipes for how to make a butter board for more details), but she credits chef Joshua McFadden for the original idea. McFadden's recipe for an herbed butter board appears in his 2017 cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables (buy it: $37, Bookshop). In that original recipe, McFadden opts for freshly ground black pepper, chile flakes, a mix of herbs, edible flowers and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, but there are endless possibilities when it comes to topping your own board.
What do you put on a butter board?
There's no wrong way to dress your board, but Doiron does recommend starting with the same two ingredients every time: flaky sea salt and citrus zest. Both will add a little zip and brightness to your board, and you can scale down the amount of salt you use or opt for a salt-free seasoning to make your appetizer appropriate for a low-sodium eating pattern.
To lower the fat content, you can choose another creamy spread to take the place of butter. Things like whipped cream cheese, ricotta or labneh are all good options that are lower in saturated fat and higher in protein. But regardless of the spread you choose, be mindful of the portion you consumer as calories from higher-fat foods like butter can add up quickly.
With your butter zested and lightly salted, you can add just about anything else to amp up the flavor. Take inspiration from pesto and add some pine nuts, roasted garlic, chopped basil and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Lean into the sweet citrus by adding lemon, lime and orange zest, then topping with a little drizzle of honey. Celebrate the last of the summer stone fruit with chopped peaches, blackberries, mint, basil and honey, or go savory with caramelized onions, thyme, rosemary and garlic.
Sticking with healthy add-ins like lots of fresh herbs, fruit and veggies can help you keep your board from feeling too heavy. Just be sure to chop up any large additions so they'll be easier to scoop up with the warm bread (or with a butter knife, if you'd rather serve it that way).
Assuming you didn't add anything that will oxidize, like avocado or apples, you could scrape the butter leftovers onto some cling wrap and shape it into a log for compound butter that will last for a couple of days in the fridge or longer in the freezer. As long as you have all the solid ingredients off the board, cleaning the butter residue away should be as easy as running your board or dish under hot water, then cleaning with dish detergent and rinsing again.