Making garlic butter, or some other variant of spiced or herbed butter, is a simple way to add flavor and depth to meals. The short version:
- melt some butter, or allow butter to soften to room temperature;
- mix in some spices or herbs to taste (and go light; it’s easy to add more, but impossible to take them out);
- put the butter in the refrigerator.
And really, that’s about it. The spices and herbs you can add are really limitless, from coarse ground pepper to thyme to fresh rosemary to ground chipotle pepper or smoked paprika to herbes de Provence.
Either fresh or dried herbs can be chopped and put into the warm butter; experiment with both to decide what you prefer. Personally, I prefer fresh herbs, but tastes differ.
Garlic butter requires anywhere from 5 minutes to 60 minutes of preparation time, with somewhere around 5 to 10 minutes of active cooking time. Once prepared, garlic or herbed butter can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, or frozen.
To make garlic butter, one additional step makes all the difference: brown the garlic in olive oil, and then mix the browned garlic and olive oil into the butter. Browned garlic has a great texture, and browning the garlic adds a sweet crunch to garlic. If the garlic was browned in butter, the butter would brown as well.
To make garlic butter:
- Remove 1 stick of butter from the refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature. This can take 30-60 minutes. The butter can also be microwaved in a bowl in 15 second increments until the butter softens.
- Peel anywhere from 3 to 10 cloves of fresh garlic (depending on the size of the cloves, and your love of garlic).
- Mince the garlic into small chunks.
- Heat a saucepan on medium-high heat; add olive oil and minced garlic.
- Stir garlic occasionally until it browns.
- Add the browned garlic and olive oil to the warm butter.
- Using a spoon, mix the garlic into the butter.
- Return the garlic butter to the fridge until it hardens, and use it as you would regular butter.