Butter boards are taking over TikTok. What are they exactly?

The food board trend long ago took on a life of its own. We've had cheese boards, charcuterie boards, breakfast boards and dessert boards.

Now, there's the butter board.

The latest craze that's snaking its way through TikTok and Instagram is all about aesthetically pleasing, shareable spreads. And it's the idea is piquing the curiosity of many — the TikTok hashtag #ButterBoard had nearly 84 million views as of Monday.

At first, the trend seemed questionable to us. With all the foods you can put on a board, what's so exciting about butter and bread? Where did the craze come from? And just how do you make a butter board? Is it hard to clean up after?

USA TODAY reporter Morgan Hines' first attempt at a butter board.
USA TODAY reporter Morgan Hines' first attempt at a butter board.

Here's what we found out:

What is a butter board?

A butter board is built by spreading softened butter on a board alongside chunks of high-quality, toasted bread.

Butters can be plain or gussied up with flavors such as bacon-bourbon, lemon-basil, cinnamon-honey or apple. They can be ornamented with jam, honey, edible flowers, salt, goat cheese, nuts, fruits, meat — whatever you fancy.

As with any food-on-a-board situation, presentation is as important as taste. Butters can be smeared, spread and molded into creative designs.

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Where did butter boards come from?

So, how did we get to this creamy place where butter boards are at the center of our culinary universe?

Brooklyn-based cook Justine Doiron posted on Instagram Sept. 15 claiming she wants to make butter boards the next charcuterie board in a reel that has more than 8 million views and nearly 180,000 likes by Monday afternoon.

And while Doiron wants the butter board to have its moment in the sun, she wasn't the original creator. In her viral video, she cites Joshua McFadden as the idea's originator.

McFadden took to his own Instagram to thank Doiron for sharing and to discuss the trend — which is something he's been doing for years.

"Seems like the secret is out about Butter Boards!?!?!?!?" wrote McFadden, who included butter boards in his 2017 book "Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables," co-authored with Martha Holmberg.

He's been making butter boards for about a decade, he tells USA TODAY.

"(I) used to do them for farm dinners where you'd have a bunch of different breads and spreads on the table," he says. "It was an opportunity to present butter and add fun, seasonal ingredients to it that made the butter more than the sum of its parts."

And a butter board "should never taste the same," he says — there are so many different ways to incorporate flavors and textures.

How to make a butter board

It seems simple to put butter on a board. But there are a few steps that Doiron shared on her website with her butter board recipe to help you spread like a pro.

For example, butter should be softened but not melty, and the first step to making a butter board is to mix your butter in a bowl to help it soften. She advises it should be similar consistency to peanut butter. Then, topping application comes in before serving. Doiron advises using a crusty bread like sourdough or whole wheat.

And, McFadden advises playing with texture, too — varying salts or grains can be added to create different textures within the butter.

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USA TODAY tried the trend

I was skeptical when I heard butter boards were trending. But I was willing to give it a try.

First of all, it was delicious. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, bread and butter are an iconic combo. It was super easy and fun to make a butter board.

Before I made a butter board, my main questions were:

  • How hard is it to flavor butter?

  • How would I make the butter look nice?

  • Would clean up be difficult?

In an effort to celebrate the new season, I flavored butter with three fall combinations: pumpkin spice, apple and maple. Each effort to flavor the butter took less than 5 minutes. It was easy to shape the softened butter into a pretty presentation.

Finally, clean up. I used a wooden board that is hand-wash only. I thought it would be a massive mess to clean up but it was easy. The butter simply washed away and I put anything unused into bowls to be popped in the fridge.

I also wondered about sharing a board like this in a communal setting but I think those germ-related worries could be quelled with a butter knife.

This trend is definitely worth trying.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What is a butter board? The viral TikTok trend, explained