Butter boards have divided the internet! Topped with sea salt and served with radishes, the thick layer of butter has some people horrified and others delighted. We decided to take a look at the trend and try it out for ourselves, and since this is culture, of course, we had to put cheese on it!
How did it start?
The butter board trend originated with Joshua McFadden’s 2017 cookbook, Six Seasons , and has recently reached the masses via @justine_snacks on TikTok (who unabashedly wants to make the butter board the next charcuterie board). Other food influencers, like Marissa Mullen of @thatcheeseplate have also helped to popularize the trend. Mullen said she doesn’t think the butter board will take the place of the cheese board, and we are inclined to agree with her.
Is it any good?
Of course it is! It’s butter! We created a butter board topped with blue cheese, hot honey, bee pollen, fresh thyme, and sea salt. I know cheese on butter sounds indulgent, but crafting a butter board did not seem like the time to exercise restraint. The bitterness of the blue cheese complimented the rich butter, combined with the sweet heat of the honey and crunchy bee pollen, this combination was objectively delicious and kept us going back for more. However, is this a snack that will work its way into the weekly rotation? Probably not.
At the end of the day, there is only so much butter one person can eat, and while the butter board is a fun and indulgent party centerpiece, it is not for the faint of heart (or stomach).
A couple of pointers:
- Use cultured butter! Cultured butter is creamier and tangier than regular butter due to the addition of live bacteria (aka cultures) to the cream. This fermentation process gives the butter a more complex flavor, aroma, and texture than your average stick.
- Make your layer of butter as thin as possible. With butter, a little goes a long way. The best part of the butter board was crafting a bite with equal proportions of butter and toppings.
- Get creative with your toppings (but don’t go overboard). Practically everything is better with butter, so have fun with toppings and accompaniments, but as with a cheese and charcuterie board, aim for complementary flavors.
If you’re like us and find yourself wanting to hop on the butter board bandwagon, here are six kinds of butter that will take your board up a notch (and yes they are all cultured).
Beurre D’Isigny AOP
Isigny Ste Mere, Normandy, France
Isigny butter, or should we say beurre, is the gold standard of French butters. It gained Appellation d’Origine Controle status in 1986, but dates back to the 16th century. In order to bear the AOP seal it must be made in Isigny with grass-fed cow’s milk from the region. The French credit the butter’s signature flavor and golden hue to the local terrior, a damp climate near the sea with grasses rich in iodine and beta carotene. It is sweet with notes of hazelnuts, and contains coarse rock salt that gives it a nice crunch.
Pairing Suggestion: We topped this deliciously rich butter with Bluebird from the Grey Barn and Farm, hot honey from Apis Mercantile, bee pollen, fresh thyme, and flaky sea salt. Serve with a rustic sourdough loaf.
Seaweed Cultured Butter
Ploughgate Creamery, North Bennington, VT
Marisa Mauro started making cheese at the age of 15. When she first opened Ploughgate Creamery in 2008, it was a cheesemaking facility. After a devastating fire closed the facility, Mauro spent a few years away from the dairy world until re-opening Ploughgate at a new location in 2014. This time she would make cultured butter. Her paper-wrapped eight-ounce bars have gained a cult following, and it’s easy to see why. Her slow culturing process creates an irresistible tangy, sweet and delicate butter.
Pairing Suggestion: Inspired by the classic French snack baguette with butter and sardines, this board is for more adventurous eaters. The umami of the seaweed butter is the perfect backdrop for sardines, and crushed dried seaweed snacks. Serve with a freshly sliced baguette and cornichons on the side.
Banner Butter makes small-batch, slow-churned butter with cream from local, grass-fed cows, which results in a product with higher butterfat than other brands. Before the cream is churned, it ripens for many hours, allowing good bacteria to form.
Pairing Suggestion: Taking a cue from apple pie, top your schmear with caramelized Granny Smith apples, roasted pecans, and cinnamon sugar. Serve with shortbread cookies and you’ve got a perfect autumnal-themed board!
Since 1923 High Lawn Farm has been an operational dairy farm. Here, butter is made with 100-percent Jersey milk. The cream ferments overnight before churning to create a complex and tangy flavor. The Basil Pesto Signature Butter is loaded with vibrant green basil, fresh garlic, pine nuts, and salt.
Pairing Suggestion: Lean into the Italian vibe and top this butter with fresh cherry tomatoes (we like a Sungold) to help cut through the fat of the butter, fresh basil, and more flaky sea salt. Serve alongside Italian breadsticks or focaccia bread.
Cultured Butter with Sea Salt
Vermont Creamery, Websterville, VT
This butter is made with fresh cream from nearby farms. It contains a little more milk fat than your average stick, 82-percent butter fat compared to the standard 80-percent, and the cream is allowed to culture overnight. By the morning it has fermented and developed notes of buttermilk and hazelnuts.
Pairing Suggestion: Sometimes it’s okay to keep it simple. Top this butter with even more flaky sea salt and serve with fresh radishes and crusty bread. Add a sprinkle of dried chilies (like Serrano) for an extra pop.
Smoked Salt Butter
Le Burre Bordier, Brittany, France
This list would not be complete without another French butter making an appearance. Le Burre Bordier is made in Brittany, France with milk from grass-fed cows that live on nearby small farms. This butter gets its smoky flavor from a smoked salt and herb blend that contains pepper, onion and curry spice.
Pairing Suggestion: This smoky butter is the perfect canvas for bold flavors. Top butter with roasted garlic cloves, chili crunch, a drizzle of honey, and parsley. Serve with freshly sliced baguette.