Compound Butter

A mixture of butter and other ingredients makes a compound butter, which can be used as a kind of insta-sauce on top of cooked meat, vegetables or fish. A classic variety is maître d’hotel butter, which uses thyme and lemon juice as flavoring agents.

But a cilantro-and-lime-juice compound butter is a marvelous thing to apply to fish, and you could even think of adding a tiny dice of jalapeño pepper to the mix. Lemon-basil is terrific as well — you could add some garlic to that and omit the shallots. Some cooks take maître d’hotel butter and add Roquefort cheese to it as a topping for steak.

Compound butter is a theme on which to improvise. The following recipe provides the basic instructions.


  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon herb leaves, minced
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • Splash Champagne or white-wine vinegar
  • Nutritional Information
    • Nutritional analysis per serving (2 servings)

      460 calories; 46 grams fat; 29 grams saturated fat; 1 gram trans fat; 11 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 2 grams sugars; 1 gram protein; 122 milligrams cholesterol; 11 milligrams sodium

    • Note: Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available data.

1/2 cup


  1. Put the butter on a cutting board and, using a fork, cut the other ingredients into it until the butter is creamy and smooth. Scrape the butter together with a chef’s knife, and form it into a rough log. If making ahead of time, roll it tightly in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

10 minutes

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