This spring, use fresh garden chives and blossoms to make chive butter! This herb compound butter is easy to make and can be frozen for later.
Spring is in full swing, and (as usual) I am so excited to see my garden begin to come to life.
One of the first things to show its face each spring is our little patch of chives. This year, I was ready for them.
As soon as the chives began to flower, I started harvesting flowers to make a batch of chive blossom vinegar.
More recently, as I was flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks, Six Seasons, I saw SO MANY compound butter ideas. I thought of the herbs in my garden, and I suddenly knew that I needed chive butter in my life.
I decided that it was time to become the type of person who keeps fancy butter tucked away in their freezer at all times, whipping it out with only a moment’s notice.
This chive butter is an easy and delicious compound butter. It’s perfect paired with freshly baked bread (of course), but is also delicious with eggs, potatoes, and meats (like fish!).
What is a Compound Butter?
Compound butter is butter that’s been mixed with something else to make it even more delicious.
In this case, we’re mixing chives, chive blossoms, and garlic into the butter.
Did you plant chives in your garden or buy chives at the grocery store? Then you probably don’t need help identifying the plant!
If, however, you’re planning to harvest wild chives, here’s what to look for.
Chives (A. schoenoprasum) are a type of wild onion. They tend to blossom earlier than other types of wild onions, flowering in the spring instead of the summer.
Chives have tall, grass-like basal leaves. The leaves are long and hollow with a strong onion scent.
Look for umbel-shaped flowers with pointed lavender petals.
When in bloom, chives have no poisonous look-alikes. When not in bloom, any type of wild onion could be mistaken for the poisonous death camas (Zigadenus nuttallii), so I recommend only harvesting chives that are in bloom.
Harvesting Chive Blossoms
For this recipe you can use either open or closed blossoms. I like to snip the blossom off a few inches below the flower, because that way I can use the stem as a handle when cleaning.
Keep in mind that once the chive goes to seed (grows a flower), the leaf (the green part) has most likely become tough and hard.
You’ll want to discard the hardened chive leaf, and use chives that are not flowering to dice up and add to the butter.
Can I Use Chives from the Grocery Store?
You probably just won’t have any blossoms to add to the butter, but that is totally fine.
How to Make Chive Butter
Start by softening some unsalted butter by leaving it at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
If you’re using chive blossoms, you’ll want to dip them in a bowl of water to clean off any dirt (or bugs).
Next, put a little butter in a pan, and gently heat the diced green chives, some garlic powder, and salt.
Don’t let anything brown–you just want to warm them up and infuse the butter with the tasty chive flavors.
Set the melted butter aside and let it cool slightly.
Next, use a spatula to fold the softened butter into the butter and chive mixture.
At this point, if your butter wasn’t softened enough or if the pan was too hot, your butter might just completely melt.
That’s not what we want, but it is not the end of the world. If that happens, nothing is ruined.
It simply means that you’ll be waiting on your butter to chill for a little longer than if it hadn’t melted.
How to Serve Chive Butter (Almost) Right Away
At this point, you have two options.
Option one: You can pour or spoon the butter into a bowl, and set it in the fridge to harden for about an hour, and then serve straight from the bowl.
If your butter completely melted, it might take a little longer than an hour to harden.
Option two: Roll the butter into a log.
I like to roll the butter into a log because it gives me more storage options. I am unlikely to go through this much butter before it would spoil in the refrigerator.
If you choose the log option, chill the butter until it’s hard enough to roll into a log. Next, wrap it in parchment paper or plastic-wrap, store it in a freezer bag, and stick it into the freezer.
You can simply slice off as much frozen butter as you like as you need it, and leave the log in the freezer.
And then you too will be the type of person that keeps fancy butter on hand at all times.
Ways to Use Chive Butter
Once you’ve got compound butter on hand, you’re in for a treat!
Spread it on freshly baked bread or swap it for the regular butter in these homemade croutons.
Try adding it to scrambled eggs or an omelette (like this masala omelette).
And of course, I can’t see butter without thinking of Julia Child’s fish meunière (fish in butter sauce).
However you serve your chive butter, it’ll be a delicious reminder of springtime.
5 Days (Fridge), 6 Months (Freezer)
- 1/2 lb unsalted butter, divided (2 sticks)
- small handful chive blossoms (optional)
- 1/4 cup chives, diced
- 1 tsp garlic powder (or finely minced garlic)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Fully soften the butter by leaving it at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before proceeding.If using chive blossoms, dip the blossoms in a bowl of water to clean, and then set on a towel to dry.
- Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter on medium-low heat in a pan. Add the chives (but not the blossoms), garlic, and salt to the butter, and gently heat until the chives soften and the garlic is fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).As soon as the garlic is fragrant, turn off the heat. Do not allow the chives to brown. If swapping fresh garlic for garlic powder, do not allow the garlic to brown.Set aside and allow to cool until slightly hardened.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold the softened butter into the chive and butter mixture. Break the chive blossoms apart into small, individual flowers, and fold those into the butter.Tip: If your pan is too hot, you might accidentally melt all of the butter. If that happens, simply set it aside and let it cool and harden before trying to form it into a log.
- To serve the same day:Pour butter into a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Note that butter will harden again in the fridge, so if you want it to be spreadable, take out of the fridge a few minutes before serving.Refrigerate leftovers and use within 5 days.To store for later:Chill butter until it's cool enough to form, and then roll it into a log. Use parchment paper or a rubber spatula to help you form the log. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and store in an airtight container, and freeze for up to 6 months. When you're ready to use the butter, simply slice off the amount you want to use and put the rest back in the freezer.