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What's a Butter Board and Why Is Everyone Making Them?

I tried the viral TikTok butter board trend. Here's my big tip for making this aesthetically pleasing appetizer spread really pop.

David Watsky Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's spent more than a decade covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools and cooking tips. Before, during and after earning his BA from Northeastern, he toiled in nearly every aspect of the food business, including as a line cook in Rhode Island where he once made a steak sandwich for Lamar Odom. Right now he's likely somewhere stress-testing a blender or tinkering with a toaster. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
Expertise Kitchen tools | Appliances | Food science | Subscriptions | Meal kits
David Watsky
3 min read
butter board on table

Butter boards are an easy way to flex your artistic side in the kitchen, even if you don't have much of one (like me).

David Watsky/CNET

Butter boards are the latest viral food sensation. If you're curious what a butter board even is, how much work goes into making a butter board or whether it's simply more fun to just say "butter board" than it is to actually make one, I'm here to answer all your burning butter board queries. 

There's much to cover, so we butter begin.

What is a butter board and how do you make one?

Over the past few days, the butter board craze hit hard online, and this latest edible TikTok recipe trend is one I can get behind -- unlike cooking chicken in Nyquil. It's honestly fun and oddly satisfying to make a butter board. Plus, they look nice and you get to eat butter. Naturally, I'm in. 

Making a butter board is simple, nearly impossible to screw up and it allows for truly limitless variations. To craft a butter board, simply spread softened butter in some aesthetically pleasing way onto a cutting board. From there, you'll drop on any number of toppings or mix-ins including herbs, nuts, seeds, fruit, radishes, honey, jam or even bits of smoked salmon or diced, cured meats. Again, try to arrange these butter board toppers in a way that pleases the eye -- and the eyes of your online followers -- and serve it all up with toasted bread, crackers or any such vessel to help deliver this fancied-up butter to your face. 

You can also make a cream cheese board and top the classic bagel spread with lox, capers, tomatoes and red onions and lay it all out (with toasted bagels, of course) for a casual weekend brunch among friends. 

Read more: Got Butter Board Fever? Here's How to Properly Clean Your Cutting Board After Use

What are the best butter board toppings?

That all depends, but the French have been gussying up butter (known as compound butter) with herbs and honey for centuries, so that might be a good place to start. If your butter is unsalted, consider some salty toppers such as capers, prosciutto or Parma ham. If it's an already salted butter board, you might want to balance that flavor with sweet jam, fresh figs or a drizzle of honey or aged sweet balsamic vinegar. 

For bonus beauty points, many are adding edible flowers to their butter boards. You could also use regular flowers, but try to keep them from mixing in with the stuff you plan to eat. If you've got a small, sterile paintbrush, you can put your artistic abilities to work swirling jams and vinegar into the butter board foundation. I used fresh parsley, rosemary, radishes and two types of honey in my butter board. 

butter board

When making my butter board, I took a classic French approach with fresh parsley, rosemary, radishes and two types of honey.

David Watsky/CNET

The one thing you need for a truly great butter board

Besides a modicum of artistic ability, the best thing you can do for your butter board is buy some really good butter. Most butter tastes fine, even the cheap stuff, but if you're serving this to friends for cocktail hour or before dinner, I suggest springing for some high-quality (in other words, high-fat) French butter or Irish butter You should be able to find some in the market or from a grocery delivery service such as FreshDirect or Amazon Fresh. It'll cost a few bucks more but it's totally worth it. 

Isigny Ste Mère

My one tip for making a great butter board is to spring for a high-quality butter that's high in fat such as Isigny Ste Mère or Kerrygold.

Oh, and one more thing. A butter board isn't complete without something good to wash it down. For alcohol imbibers, I'd suggest white wine, something with a little body, either bubbly or still. A frothy Belgian-style wheat beer won't be half-bad either.

The best cutting board for butter boards

Fab Slab

Camphor is a harder wood with beautiful grain patterns, making this one a favorite for making butter boards because it's lovely looking and not too big. Camphor also has aromatic oils giving it a pleasant natural smell.

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