This recipe may qualify as the doggoned easiest recipe to ever grace the pages of this blog. It’s so easy and so flexible that I’m not sure I can even call it a recipe. But it’s an almost effortless way to turn any regular old weekday meal into something special. Let me introduce you to herb butter.
Herb butter is, in the simplest terms– wait for it– butter… with herbs in it. Whoa. Mind blown, right? And here’s how you make it. You take some butter. And you– get this– put herbs in it. I know, right? I’m killing it with super fancy recipes here. You’re probably so impressed with my culinary prowess right now.
So now that you know what it is, what do you do with it? The easiest thing to do with it is to top simply-cooked meats with it, but it works in anything that you might want to add both butter and herbs to. And herb butter is equally at home in a ketogenic diet or a more standard diet.
Even though this recipe is crazy simple, I’ve given you a little visual guide for what the base recipe is, and herb blends you might consider for topping different meats.
All that’s in the base is butter, salt, and pepper. The base recipe is for one stick of butter, or half of a block you see above. I personally like to use Kerrygold butter in this recipe because I think it tastes better than other butters. It’s grass-fed, so I feel better about the balance of Omega-3s vs. Omega-6 fatty acids. But it is more expensive. I don’t use it for everything because of this. And any butter will work fine in this recipe. Just please don’t use margarine. *shudder*
Here are simple visual guides of the herb blends I put together to use on different types of meat. But know that these are just a general guideline. You can omit or add as you like, depending on what’s available and your personal tastes. I’ve included garlic in each of these, and I used a small clove or half a large clove for each stick of butter. I prefer to grate it with a microplane rather than mince it because I think it melds into the butter better and keeps my kids from getting upset that they’ve bitten into a piece of garlic bigger than they bargained for.
Not pictured: a squeeze of lemon.
(After taking this photo, I went to make this recipe but accidentally put parsley in instead of thyme. I’m smart like that.)
I put both lemon juice and lemon zest in my fish blend.
Additionally, if you’d like to make a single blend that would work for any meat or vegetable, I’d go with garlic and parsley, and maybe a little chives and thyme. This will taste great with just about everything.
In order to make the herb butter, mince your herbs very finely. You’re shooting for about 2 tablespoons of herbs after they’re minced, but there’s no need to be overly precise. I don’t actually measure, just eyeball it. I generally shoot for equal parts of each herb, but herbs like rosemary and oregano are a bit stronger than the others, so I use a little less of those to get a balance I like. Also be sure that with rosemary and sage, you mince them really well, since their leaves can a bit tougher than some of the other herbs.
Once you have the herbs all minced, put them along with the butter, garlic, and lemon zest & juice (if using) into a mixing bowl and beat together with an electric mixer. You can do this by hand with a fork as well, if you like, but it will take a bit longer. After that, season with salt and pepper to taste and mix again. Bear in mind that if you start with salted butter, you’ll need to add less salt.
You can use this butter immediately, store it in the refrigerator for a few days, or (my personal favorite) freeze it and slice off pieces as needed. Here’s how you freeze it:
Start with cling wrap. I was all out, so I used Press’n Seal, but regular cling wrap is easier. Spread herb butter on a piece of cling wrap as shown above. Don’t go all the way to the edges.
Take the bottom and fold the butter over onto itself.
From here, roll into a log shape, and roll all the way to the end of the cling wrap.
Then, twist one end. Starting from the opposite end, press the butter firmly downward so it fills in and becomes more like a consistent tube shape. Then twist this end closed like the other.
Isn’t it pretty? It would be even prettier if I’d had cling wrap because you’d see all the specks of herbs even more clearly.
If you’re making multiple blends, make sure to label them, then put all your herb butter logs into a freezer bag and throw into your freezer. (I made a double batch of both chicken and steak, because as much as I wish we ate more fish, I just know we’ll go through those the fastest.)
Then, when you’re ready to use it, peel one side of the cling wrap and slice. For best results, either leave the butter out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before slicing, or run your knife under hot water first. Then top your hot meat of choice with a round of butter and watch it melt into a river of glorious herby, garlicky, buttery gold that will turn your plain, sad, last-minute chicken breast into an impressively delicious meal.
Seriously, though, if you stock your freezer with this, you can turn almost anything into something that looks and tastes like it came from a culinary master. Have a date you’re trying to impress? Sauté some chicken breast in a skillet until it’s cooked through and then top with some of this. Or grill up a steak, and add a round of herb butter as soon as you put it on the plate. Heck, throw some into your dish of microwaved frozen vegetables and — BAM! — you fancy.
We’re all looking for ways to cut down on the time it takes to make dinner, am I right? So, go to your herb garden or local grocery store and stock up some fresh herbs and make yourself a big old batch of this so you can make life easier on yourself for the rest of the winter.
1 stick butter, room temperature
salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons minced herbs
1 small or 1/2 large garlic clove, grated
Herb Blend Suggestions:
Chicken: Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Tarragon, Sage. Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
Steak: Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley
Pork: Sage, Thyme, Rosemary
Fish: Parsley, Chives, Tarragon. Add the zest of one lemon, and squeeze of lemon juice.
All Purpose Blend: Parsley, Chives, Thyme.
Blend butter, herbs, garlic, and lemon (if using) in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Add salt & pepper to taste and blend thoroughly. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to a week, or form into logs wrapped in cling wrap and freeze for 3+ months.