TikTok's butter board has inspired weeks of conversation and outrage online.
I tried it and, unsurprisingly, it's delicious if you get the ratios right.
I wouldn't bring it to share with strangers, but it's great for a low-key night with close friends.
Every few weeks, the internet finds a new thing to despise or exalt. For the last few weeks, that tragic main character has been the butter board: a reincarnation of the wholesome bread and butter staple, reforged in the sun-drenched kitchens of food bloggers.
While originally coined in a 2017 cookbook by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg, a September 15 TikTok video by recipe developer Justine Doiron (@justine_snacks) slingshotted the concept into fickle internet fame as a potential runner-up to charcuterie boards. (The video has since been viewed more than 8.5 million times).
A butter board, the humble cousin of charcuterie, has faced an uphill battle online. Fans have called it genius and the best culinary trick they've found in years, while detractors mainly take issue with the volume of butter required and fear of double dippers (though you can serve it with knives).
Bon Appetit polled its staffers on whether or not they were "team butter board," while The New York Times crowned it a late-pandemic "augur of feasts to come," like a dairy-ified Groundhog's Day bankrolled by the Midwest.
But not that many people seem to have tried it. So I roped in a group of friends and fed them eight ounces of butter under a handful of toppings. Here's how it went:
I picked up the groceries needed for a spicy-sweet butter board
I decided to use a recipe featured in this TikTok from @thesammyschnur which called for sourdough bread, figs, fig jam, honey, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, goat cheese, butter, and strawberries. I went to three stores in search of the figs but still came up short, so I left them out. Buying all the ingredients from scratch cost me about $50.
I also forgot to add Maldon salt (womp-womp), but the butter board was flavorful enough without it.
In general, one perk of a butter board is its convenience. You might not have four different types of artisanal cheese on hand before friends pop by, but you probably have a stick of butter. While I followed a specific TikTok recipe, you could also probably make a tasty version using whatever sweet or savory items you had on hand, too.
First, I washed the strawberries and sliced them
This recipe is low-lift — washing and cutting the strawberries was probably the most taxing thing demanded of me.
I wish I'd let the butter warm for longer — a minor challenge for quick prep
If I'd had more time, I would have let the butter sit at room temperature to become lightly melty and spreadable. But I didn't, so I cut the stick into equal sections and popped them all into the microwave for five-second intervals until it was soft and spreadable. It worked just as well. Meanwhile, I sliced the strawberries into thin rounds.
I slathered the butter onto the cutting board. This part could initiate a turn-back-now reflex but I encourage you to continue
Listen, I'll be honest — the butter board fought back. It looked so unappealing at first, when you're staring down a cutting board covered in a lightly greasy inch of yellow butter, that it felt like the dish's natural defense mechanism. The faint of heart might abandon the recipe here. As a journalist, and as a Midwesterner, I pressed on.
Then, I added goat cheese
Ah, goat cheese: This is another item I wish I'd let warm at room temperature for longer to make it easier to spread. Even if you don't, though, it's fine.
Red pepper flakes were next
I tossed on red pepper flakes for some heat. I like spice, and this was a good amount, but honestly I could have added more.
Next, cinnamon and fig jam
Next, I sprinkled cinnamon and spread the fig jam — which had slices of fig in it. This is the stage where it started to seem like a genuinely appealing spread to feed to other people rather than a layer of yellow butter silently sweating in my kitchen's fluorescent lighting.
I added a hefty drizzle of honey
For that extra is-it-bourgeois-or-is-it-butter vibe, drizzle in big circles like you're plating for "The Bear's" chef, Carmy.
Finally, I added crunchy walnuts and sliced strawberries
Next, I added halved walnuts for crunch and the sliced strawberries. We're getting somewhere.
I served the butter board to a handful of friends
With the help of softer living room lighting, the butter board ended up looking genuinely enticing when presented — soliciting appreciative surprise from the five friends I enlisted as my guinea pigs. A board-based food's raison d'etre is to be beautiful as well as tasty, and this succeeded — though, in the future, I'd add more garnishes so it felt a bit less like a bunch of butter.
We enjoyed it with homemade beer bread (made with a pumpkin ale) and the toasted sourdough loaf.
Digging in, we were both surprised and humbled.
All in all, my friends rated the butter board from 4/10 to 8/10 — with most saying they'd happily eat it again
Dear reader, it's good. Not replace-a-charcuterie-board good, but bread-and-butter good. I think you knew this.
Everyone might love jumping on the bandwagon of whatever the internet hates most in a given week, but it's just simply not a surprise that if you like bread and butter, you may also like a butter board.
This is, of course, dependent upon your ability to eat "lumps of butter simply because it's garnished," as one friend put it, and view a slab of butter laid horizontal with an open mind.
Most testers rated it 6/10, 7/10, and 8/10.
A friend who hadn't ever seen or heard of a butter board did, however, describe the experience as "upsetting" though also "delicious" (rating it 4/10). Others who expressed a deep, lifelong appreciation for butter were on board from the start (8/10).
Though it occasionally felt unappealing, and we may not bring it to a housewarming party, it's an objectively tasty option for informal get-togethers
Despite whatever reservations we had — including questions over whether it was in fact at all dangerous to eat that much saturated fat — we finished it quickly.
All in all, we found there were some obvious and not-so-obvious pros and cons to the butter board.
Pro: First, it is delicious if you make it well. In the future, I'd pay more careful attention to spreading the butter thinly — you don't want a bite that's 70% butter.
Secondly, you can serve it with knives if you fear double-dipping.
More broadly, though, the butter board feels less formal and more intimate than a charcuterie board.
It's a low-lift, delicious snack for a cozy night in with friends, if you're open to eating that much butter.
Cons: You might come face to face with detractors who question the butter board's right to exist. Plus, saving the leftovers also seems unappealing.
On the heels of a few pandemic years spent fixated on germs, sliding bread around a shared spread isn't something we'd be excited to do with strangers. For that, we'd prefer a charcuterie. And given the polarizing responses a butter board can elicit, we would think twice before bringing it as an offering to a housewarming.
I was dreading the clean-up, but it was actually pretty easy
I expected the clean-up to be a nightmare, but hot water melted and washed away the butter before I could grab a picture of it in its in-between stage. Another point for the board.
Ultimately, I will defend the butter board. It's delicious, communal, warm, intimate, and informal. Even if the concept of consuming that much butter makes you feel queasy upfront, it's worth a try with friends.
You need to be careful about how thickly you spread it, and it's a dish best shared (though, for some, only at home), but it's tasty — and that's all a food really needs to be.
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