Herb butter tastes like a luxury but is actually so easy to make and use that it could become part of your everyday meals. Melt and drizzle it over seafood or cooked vegetables for an instant sauce.
Herb butters can be part of elegant party fare or they can be an easy way to perk up a weeknight dinner. They are an excellent way to preserve fresh herbs, especially those like rosemary that lose some of their texture or flavor when dried. Parsley, cilantro (coriander), chives, tarragon, and chervil are also good candidates for herb butters.
Herb butters are superb on fish and other seafood, and on almost any cooked vegetable. Use the smaller amount of herbs called for in the recipe if working with especially strong tasting herbs such as sage and rosemary; be a little more generous with the amount you include when the herb is a mild one like parsley.
Herb butters will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months, and in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) butter
- 1 - 3 teaspoons (5 - 15 ml) herbs (fresh, finely chopped)
- Leave the butter out at room temperature until it softens.
- Mince the fresh herbs and grate the lemon zest, if using.
- Put the softened butter in a bowl. Using a fork, mash it together with the herb and lemon zest until thoroughly combined. If you started with unsalted butter, you can add salt to taste (those on salt-restricted diets may find herb butters are a flavorful way to skip the salt altogether).
- Scoop the herb butter onto a piece or waxed or parchment paper. Shape it into a log by rolling it in the paper. Wrap the herb butter tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 months.
- If storing for longer than a month or two, put the wax or parchment paper-wrapped herb butter into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. The herb butter will still be safe to eat after that, but the quality will decline significantly.
- Transfer the frozen herb butter to the refrigerator 24 hours before you intend to use it.
Using Herb Butters
Here are a few suggestions for how to use herb butters.
- Use parsley plus lemon zest butter on steamed or boiled vegetables.
- Chives butter is great on baked potatoes.
- Cut thin rounds of herb butter to serve at each place at dinner parties. Garnish with a fresh sprig of the same herb that's in the butter if it's available.
- Melt herb butter and drizzle it over seafood after the seafood is cooked and just before serving.
- Drizzle melted herb butter over popcorn.