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Preserving Fresh Herbs as Herbal Compound Butters

Preserving Fresh Herbs as Herbal Compound Butters
Home » Preserving Food » Herbal Butters

Dried herbs can’t compete with fresh herbs when it comes to cooking with flavor. If you have a garden, a nearby farmers market, or a good grocery store, preserving fresh herbs as herbal compound butters is my favorite way to ensure fresh flavor year-round. It’s very easy, you can create wonderful blends, and herb butters last 4-6 months in the freezer.

Herbal compound butter coins as way to preserve fresh herbs
Herbal Compound Butter Coins

Jump to: RECIPE | Tips for Preserving Butters | Ingredients & Substitutions | Storing & Freezing | How to Use in Recipes | Method

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Pro Tips for the Best Herbal Butters

Chopping up some fresh herbs, mixing them with room temperature butter and freezing until needed is one of the easiest ways to preserve fresh herbs.

This method is an especially good preservation technique for those herbs like rosemary that lose some of their texture or flavor when dried. Parsley, cilantro (coriander), chives, tarragon, and sage are also good candidates for herb butters.

For me, I like to think of what I enjoy cooking and make blends that match my cooking preferences.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of this preservation method:

  • Don’t stress about perfect ratios. I use a couple of tablespoons minced herbs per every stick (1/2 cup) of butter. The ratio is flexible and can be modified to your tastes or what you have on hand.
  • You can add a lot of other things besides herbs to a butter. You can add chopped shallots or scallions or dried red pepper flakes or you can add citrus peel to any combination. It’s difficult to fail, but I’ve listed some tried and true blends in the recipe card and video below.
  • Use real butter, not margarine. Use fresh herbs, not dried.
  • Adding lemon juice or lemon zest enhances the flavors. You could alternatively add minced lemon verbena or lemon balm.
  • Garlic is often used in herb butter blends. When mincing the garlic mince it with a little sea salt or kosher salt to turn it into more of a “paste” which blends in better with the butter
  • You can use either salted or unsalted butter to control the amount of salt. Just know that adding a bit of salt to the unsalted butter really does enhances the flavor.
  • If you are using fresh herbs, rinse them thoroughly and allow them to air dry prior to chopping.

Best Ingredients for Herbal Compound Butters

The world is your oyster here, but I have to admit, I’ve never tested oysters as an ingredient! Here are some of my favorite additions that pair nicely with most herbs:

Ingredients Other than Herbs to Enhance Compound Butters:

  • Lemon zest
  • Garlic
  • Scallions
  • Pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Edible flowers
Ingredients for making herbal butters
Ingredients for making herbal butters: butter, fresh herbs, garlic, lemon, kosher salt

How to Store & Freeze

Herb Butters can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, preferably in a sealed container. My favorite way to store and freeze the herbal butters is to roll them into a log, then wrap in waxed paper, and then seal in a plastic zipper top bag. They come out of the freezer in perfect logs, ready to slice into coins and then re-freeze.

You can roll the butters in plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper. If you don’t want the plastic wrap to come in contact with the butter, roll it in wax paper, but then add them to freezer bags or a sealed container when freezing.

You also want to be sure to label and date this butter! It’s almost impossible to tell one herbal butter from the next when you pull them out for cooking.

Two roles of white stickers for labeling and dating items that will be frozen in containers.
Labels for Containers to be Frozen

Use your butters within 4- 6 months for best flavor. After that, it can start to get some of the flavors of the freezer. Within four months is usually your best bet and you have the most potent flavors of the herbs.

Transfer the frozen herb butter to the refrigerator 24 hours before you intend to use it for easy slicing.

How to Use Herbed Compound Butters

There are so many great ways to use herbal butters! Pull the log of butter out of the freezer and chop off a medallion size (a coin) of the butter.

Now it’s ready to use! Here are my favorite ways to use these herbal butters:

  • Toss it into a sauce
  • Use it on rustic breads
  • Melt it on top of a pork chop or a steak
  • Add it to vegetables
  • Blend it into scrambled eggs

Sage butter or rosemary butter is great at Thanksgiving time for turkey, gravy and many side dishes.

Lemon-thyme herb butter is fantastic on fish or vegetables. That would just be one stick of butter with two tablespoons of freshly chopped thyme and two teaspoons of grated lemon zest.

A few other ways to use these butters could include:

  • Dollop a “coin” or a tablespoon on your pork chop before serving and let it melt into the chop. Beautiful and tasty at the same time (See photo above).
  • Simply spread on your bread or biscuits.
  • Toss a coin with Italian herbs into your pasta sauce.
  • Use cilantro blends of herb butter for Mexican dishes – grilled corn or elote (grilled corn on the cob slathered in a mayo cream sauce and garnished with chili powder, cheese and lime) is a good one.
  • Drizzle melted herb butter over popcorn.
  • Use thin coins of herb butter to fancy up dinner parties. Garnish each coin with a fresh sprig of an herb that is in the blend.
Photo of 4 Mexican grilled corn on cobs (called "elote") on a dark plate with sliced limes as a garnish.
Grilled Elote (Mexican corn on the cob) with Herbed Butter from magicalbutter.com

Easy Method to Make Compound Butters

It’s very easy to make fresh herb butter or compound butter at home. Basically, all you do is you let the butter soften so it’s at room temperature, chop the fresh herbs and blend into the butter, roll into a log, wrap in wax paper or parchment paper and freeze.

You can mix the butter and herbs in a bowl with a fork, you can mix them together in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or you can use the food processor to chop the herbs and then stir in the butter.

I prefer chopping the herbs with a knife and mixing them together with the butter in a bowl, as there isn’t as much to clean up afterwards.

Photo of woman's hands using a large knife to chop herbs on a cutting board
Chopping Herbs with a Knife (photo from Cutco.com)

The recipe card below details the directions and includes 4 of my favorite blends.

Growing Herbs in Containers

Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow in containers or in the garden if you have at least partial sun. If you live in an apartment or want to grow herbs indoors, try one of the indoor growing systems.

Here are some great posts that will help you become successful at growing herbs outdoors in containers

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can you freeze compound butters?

Absolutely. They freeze beautifully and can be used all throughout the Winter.

How long do herb butters last in the freezer?

They will easily last 4 months if wrapped in wax paper and then sealed in a ziplock bag

Which herbs are best for compound butters?

Your favorite ones!! The only herbs that I wouldn’t suggest is dried herbs. The recipe card below gives you some ideas for my favorites

Like this recipe? It helps me out greatly if you leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below and maybe even leave me a quick comment too!

Herbal Compound Butters

Herbal compound butter coins as way to preserve fresh herbs
Easy step by step to preserve fresh herbs in the form of herbal butters. The recipes below include four popular herbal blends: a Fines Herbs blend, a Mediterranean blend, a seafood blend, and a Mexican blend.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 103

Equipment

Ingredients

Basic Recipe:

  • ½ cup real butter room temperature; I use Kerrygold
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh herbs rinsed, air-dried, and minced
  • 1 garlic clove optional
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest finely grated with microplane
  • Kosher salt amount is to taste, depending if you use salted or unsalted butter

Fines Herbs Blend

  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon minced
  • 1 tablespoon chives mnced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chervil if not available, leave it out or substitute with dill

Mediterranean Blend:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage minced

Seafood Blend:

  • 1 tablespoon dill ground seeds or fronds
  • 1 tablespoon parsley minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon verbena or lemon balm can use 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon can substitute with basil

Mexican Blend:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro minced
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano regular oregano is fine
  • 2-3 teaspoons lime zest zested with microplane

Instructions
 

  • Let 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter soften to room temperature for several hours or soften in the microwave on 10% power. The butter should be easy to stir but not melted. Rinse the herbs and allow them to air dry before chopping.
    1/2 cup real butter
  • Finely chop or mince the herbs and add to a bowl with the softened butter (you can also chop herbs in the food processor if you don’t want to use the knife). Zest the lemon or lime peel and add to the bowl. If using unsalted butter, add the amount of salt you want at this point (about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp). Stir all of it together thoroughly. The butter and chopped herbs can be blended in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment if you don’t want to blend by hand.
    2-4 tablespoons fresh herbs, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, Kosher salt
  • Place a piece of wax paper (about 8 x 11) on the counter and mound the butter/herb mixture on top of the wax paper (or plastic wrap or parchment paper). Using your hands, pat and roll the butter into a log (see video for my method). Roll the butter log inside of the wax paper and twist the ends to close (or secure with rubber bands. Label and place in freezer until ready to use. If making multiple butters, place all logs in a gallon freezer bag for longer and easier storage.
  • Will last 4-6 months in freezer. Cut off medallions (or coins) of butter when needed and use in sauces, on breads, or atop vegetables or meats.

Video

Notes

 
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Nutrition

Calories: 103kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 103mgPotassium: 6mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 439IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 5mgIron: 1mg
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  1. Dustin says:

    I am going to do this! We have so many herbs. We also use Kerrygold butter, it is the best salted butter5 stars

    • Dorothy says:

      @Dustin, Agree on the Kerrygold! Just know that if you use salted butter, you might want to modify the ingredients a bit in the recipe.

  2. Susan METOXEN says:

    This is an excellent idea! It makes it easier for future meals.

  3. Darling Deborah says:

    Fantastic flavor! The fresh herbs POP!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Easy to follow5 stars

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