Butter Boards Explained: How to Make TikTok's Favorite Culinary Trend the Food & Wine Way

A truly epic board calls for butter, seafood, and luster dust.

 An Inspiration Guide For the Butter Board

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Amelia Rampe

If you are on TikTok or Instagram, you know about butter boards, the entertaining trend that has invaded your timeline and gatherings. Butter boards, which first appeared in chef Joshua McFadden’s 2017 cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables, have taken over social media feeds in the last couple of months.

If you happen to have a life outside of social media (congrats!) and have never heard of this phenomenon, let me explain. At its most basic, a butter board is similar to a cheese or charcuterie board. Softened butter is decoratively swooped and swished onto a cutting board, sometimes shaped to look like an ocean wave or molded to hold the shape of a flower. In some cases, the butter is garnished with toppings like flaky salt, seeds, and spices. Sliced bread, crackers, or crunchy vegetables like radishes or carrots are served alongside for dipping. 

Like other trends, butter boards have gotten out of hand. Now you can find every kind of board — bagel boards with cream cheese, French fry boards with mayonnaise and even ketchup boards. I have even come across a soup board which was — you guessed it — a board with a multitude of soups running off it.

We’ve come to terms with the fact that this thing is not going away. And we believe that a butter board can be a memorable and tasty addition to your next party. Here are a few tricks and tips to inspire your next butter board to be beautiful, delicious, and safe to eat. 

Safety First: Please Don’t Get Anyone Sick

One of the first issues with butter boards is food safety. Many folks construct their butter creations on top of wooden cutting boards, which are the least sanitary cutting boards. Wood is an organic material that is porous and fibrous, so wood cutting boards can absorb bacteria from meat, fish, or dairy placed on them. It’s generally good practice to never use a wood cutting board when cutting proteins — you should extend that practice to butter boards, too. 

If you’re committed to assembling your butter board on a cutting board, plastic cutting boards are your best and most sanitary option. There are plenty of super cute plastic cutting boards on the market to choose from. Or use a ceramic crudité platter or a plate. You can even assemble individual boards on small plates so each person gets their own. 

Level Up With a Compound Butter

One of the easiest ways to upgrade a butter board is by making a compound butter. Compound butter is the technique of softening butter and infusing it with ingredients such as tender herbs like chives or dill, aromatics like garlic, or sweeteners like honey or maple. Combine your favorite flavors and refrigerate or freeze the butter until you are ready to use it.

No time to make a compound butter? Then use a salted butter for your board. The salt content in the butter is minimal and won’t overpower the other flavors on your board, but is enough to balance anything sweet and compliment savory ingredients. 

RELATED: Compound Butter Gallery

Make a Savory Butter Board

Savory butter boards are a good option for a snack platter, when you can set out vegetables, sliced bread and crackers to dip into your butter creation.

The simplest savory butter boards can start with a decadent European salted butter topped with a favorite spice blend like furikake, za’atar, or urfa bibir. If you want to level it up and make a compound butter, it can be as easy as this recipe for radishes with a nori compound butter or this umami-rich anchovy butter. Try introducing texture in the butter with this Parmesan Corn Butter, or impress your guests with this alligator pepper and makrut lime butter

Go Sweet with a Dessert Butter Board

Another option is to save your creation for the end of the night and create a dessert-forward butter board. This is the time for the compound butters with a sweeter flavor profile. Take a cue from chef Alex Raj and scrape vanilla beans into butter, or take it up a notch and make this lightly sweet and beautiful Ehuru and Wildflower Honey Butter. In addition to butters, you could place fruit spreads and jam alongside. Or you can top the butter with freeze-dried fruit powders to add a pop of color and flavor.

You could even make buttercream instead of a sweetened compound butter and really turn it into a dessert spread, using a piping bag to decoratively place the frosting on the board. Tiny cupcakes, cookies, cake, and biscuits take the place of vegetables and crackers as your dipping vessels. 

Go Big with an Over-the-Top Butter Board

With butter boards, it’s all about presentation, so if you want to make an impact, go all out and make it a board to remember. This Under the Sea butter board pairs butter with all the best bites the ocean has to offer - think lobster, crab, shrimp, and caviar.

When building a luxe board, the first thing you should consider is the presentation platter. While plastic cutting boards are cute for butter and bread, try using an ornate metal serving platter to make it a little extra. Then, start with a compound butter full of flavor that compliments the rest of the ingredients on the platter. It can be as simple as roasted garlic butter or as extravagant as caviar butter. Instead of spice blend toppings, try adding edible flowers, micro herbs, or make the whole board dance with the addition of katsuobushi. 

Make blinis to go along with your Under the Sea butter board, especially if you’re including caviar. While radishes and other vegetables are lovely, you could also add finger food delights from the sea. Slice up poached lobster tails into bite-size pieces. Crab claws, cold cracked chilled crab legs or poached peeled shrimp are also great options; be sure to expose the crab meat first to make it even easier to dip the crab in butter. To be even more decadent, fill a champagne coupe with drawn butter for more buttery dipping. Rise to the occasion and make the whole thing sparkle with edible glitter and luster dust. Then bring out the fancy utensils and butter spreaders and dive in.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles