This versatile roasted garlic and chive herb compound butter can be used when roasting chicken or turkey, on top of steaks, or laminated into croissant or biscuit dough to add lots and lots of flavor.
Once I got the hang of making homemade butter in my stand mixer, it was only a matter of time before I made the leap to compound butter.
And make the leap I did — jumping headfirst into testing different combinations of garlic and chives mixed into my soft, creamy freshly made butter.
So let's talk about how to make herb butter, aka compound butter!
While compound herb butters are usually most popular around Thanksgiving and the holidays, you can also use them all year round.
Compound butters are excellent for roast chicken and turkey, and are often made with savory herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. But the brightness of the fresh chives in this roasted garlic butter make it more of a year-round flavor.
What is compound butter?
Compound butter is a mixture of butter and other ingredients compounded together, usually in the shape of a log. Sometimes compound butter is called "finishing butter" but that's really more about how it's used — not all compound butters are finishing butters!
Compound butter is often used on steaks, or sliced over roasted veggies, under poultry skin, as a topping for freshly steamed rice or grains, and even slathered onto bread or biscuits.
Making compound butter is also a great way to preserve fresh herbs before they go bad!
While you can use a wide range of ingredients in a compound butter, the most common is an herb compound butter made with fresh or dried minced herbs.
While all herb butters are compound butters, not all compound butters are herb butters.
Why this roasted garlic and chive herb compound butter works
Making a flavorful compound butter might sound easy, and in many ways it is. Here's the short version of how to make herb butter: Add herbs to butter, wrap it in up in a log, and chill it until you're ready to use it.
But getting that herb compound butter flavor balance just right? It takes work! Especially when you're working with something as powerful as garlic.
I did several side-by-side tests with this herb butter — comparing different ratios of garlic and chives to butter, as well as comparing raw garlic to pre-roasted garlic. The pre-roasted garlic won every dang time.
The fat in the butter is so good at being infused with flavor that even just a few cloves of raw garlic in this compound butter were far too intense. Definitely a no-kissing-for-several-hours kind of nuclear garlic breath situation.
But a whole bulb of roasted garlic is mellow and slightly sweet when added to the butter. It's the perfect counterpart to the slightly sharper allium-ness of the fresh chives.
I also found that adding other fresh herbs in much smaller quantities — rosemary and sage (though you could also use thyme!) — helped add some dimensionality to the two very assertive primary flavors happening here.
Here's what you need to make this roasted garlic and chive herb compound butter.
- Butter - I like using my homemade stand mixer butter, but you can use store bought butter too. Unsalted or salted depends on how you plan to use it. I prefer starting with unsalted butter so I can control how much salt I'm adding to it. If you use a salted butter, taste it before deciding whether to add more salt. You can use European-style butter, extra creamy butter, etc.
- Roasted Garlic Bulb - I've got a guide on how to roast a whole bulb of garlic here if you've never done it before. It's very easy and very hands off! You'll want to let the coves cool slightly before adding them to the soft butter so the butter doesn't melt completely. If they're warm, that's fine, but try to avoid hot-out-of-the-oven heat.
- Chives - You can usually find these in those plastic clamshell packs in the produce section of your grocery store if they don't have them fresh. That said, if your grocery store has actual garlic chives in stock, I recommend using those!
- Other herbs - This is optional, but if you've got other herbs like rosemary, sage, or thyme lying around, you can chop them up finely and add them as well.
- Fine sea salt - Fine sea salt mixes into the soft butter more evenly than table salt or kosher salt, which have a larger crystal structure.
Making compound butter is easy! Roast the garlic, let it cool slightly. Then add it to softened butter along with the chives, any other herbs and salt.
Use a fork, a potato masher, or a muddler to mash everything into the butter. Then, transfer the butter to a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper and roll it into a log.
Chill the butter until ready to use.
How to use roasted garlic and chive herb compound butter
Once you've made your herb compound butter there are a million ways to use it. Most often you'll see it served sliced over warm or hot dishes, so the residual heat from the food melts the butter into a delicious sauce. But there are lots of other ways to use it too.
- As a finishing sauce for steak
- Laminated into croissants
- Mixed with steamed rice or grains
- As the butter in this garlic cheddar biscuit recipe
- Slathered onto bread or biscuits
- Under the skin when roasting turkey or chicken
- Over top steamed or roasted broccoli, asparagus, carrots, or green beans
- Mixed with frozen peas or corn on the stovetop
- In an aluminum foil packet with oven baked salmon
- Melt and spoon it over your favorite dinner roll recipe after baking (or cube it and place it on top of the dough before baking)
- For making garlic bread
- When sautéing mushrooms
- With steamed clams or shrimp
- Mixed into mashed potatoes
- For topping baked potatoes
- Stirred into plain pasta for a twist on butter noodles
Compound butter is infinitely customizable with tons of variations (honey butter is even a type of compound butter!). Here are some twists on this compound butter that have a similar flavor profile.
- Raw garlic - If you want a sharper, more intense garlic flavor, use raw garlic instead of roasted garlic. Grate it on a microplane or mince it finely. If you're using the jarred pre-minced garlic, spoon it out onto a paper towel first to absorb moisture before adding it to the butter.
- Scallions - They'll give you a sharper, more onion-y flavor than the chives do.
- Lemon - Add the zest of one lemon to the butter for a zesty, tangy, acidic flavor.
- Spicy - Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the garlic bulb before roasting it.
- Rosemary - Replace the chives with 3 tablespoons minced rosemary. Rosemary has quite a strong flavor, so you don't need quite as much of it as you do the chives.
Compound butter FAQ
In the fridge, a tightly wrapped herb compound butter will stay good for about 5-7 days. In the freezer, wrapped tightly, it can stay good up to 6 months! Plain butter has a much longer shelf life, since it hasn't been mixed with fresh herbs or garlic that shorten that "best by" date.
This is the same for if you're using homemade butter as the base for your herb compound butter, as long as you rinsed it well before adding the herbs and garlic. If you're going this route, I recommend making it no more than a day or two before you plan to use it, just to be safe. Wrap tightly and freeze whatever is left as soon as you're done.
Yep! If you're planning on using it in a recipe that has other salt added, you should omit the salt from the butter. If you're using the butter as a spread, the salt helps add a lot of flavor. But it's not necessary.
I don't love jarred garlic, but if that's what you've got to work with you can "roast" it in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Then add it right into the butter just like you would the garlic cloves. About 3 tablespoons of jarred garlic is equivalent to one bulb of roasted garlic.
Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt has larger crystals with bigger air pockets. Fine sea salt has finer crystals and mixes into the butter more smoothly without making it grainy.
Roasted Garlic and Chive Herb Compound Butter
- Sturdy spatula
- Cheese cloth or paper towels
- Soften butter. Bring butter to room temperature by leaving it out overnight or for several hours. You should be able to easily press a finger into it, but it shouldn't be melted or greasy.NOTE: If using homemade butter, proceed from here directly after rinsing but before chilling the butter.
- Roast garlic. Cut off the top of a bulb of garlic, place it in a ramekin or the center of a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes until golden brown and fragrant. The cloves should shrink slightly in their papery wrappers.When cool enough to handle, use a fork or paring knife to remove the cloves from their papery wrappers. Mash the garlic cloves with a fork and set aside until ready to use.
- Combine softened butter, roasted garlic cloves, fresh herbs, and salt (if using) in a bowl or using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. Mix until very well combined.
- Cut a sheet of parchment paper about 10" long.
- Transfer the softened compound butter to the center of the parchment paper in a long, rough log shape.
- Fold the top of the parchment paper forward over the log of butter. Place your hand on the bottom sheet of parchment paper near you to anchor it in place. Then press a bench scraper at an angle into the top layer of parchment paper where the butter log meets the counter. This will create tension in the parchment paper and force the butter into a long smooth log shape. Repeat until the log is as long as you want.
- Wrap any remaining parchment paper around the log of butter and place in the fridge to firm up, at least 1 hour. Once the butter is fairly firm, wrap the log well in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Store compound butter tightly wrapped in the fridge 5-7 days, or in the freezer up to 6 months.