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Homemade Chive Butter

October 4, 2012

Remember that time when I accidentally made butter?

Well this time I made butter on purpose. Progress!

The accidental homemade butter was so smooth, rich, and just a little bit sweet that it won me over completely. We used it to bake cookies, make frosting, and to butter corn on the cob, but mostly we used it on bread.

I never buy salted butter, because I think it’s unnecessary, and I like to be able to know and control exactly how much salt is going into whatever I’m making. But a little grind of sea salt in the homemade butter added a depth of creamy flavor– and perhaps contributed to this hint of sweetness that I may be imagining?– which allowed the butter to steal the show from the toast.

So with fresh bread as a showcase, I set out to make butter again. On purpose. With chives.

I like to think I have a special relationship with chives; chives and I go way back. Way back to when I was a kid, maybe as young as 6 or 7, and– despite the fact that I have no childhood recollections whatsoever related to onions or scallions– I absolutely LOVED munching on raw chives, plucked straight from the ground.

There was only one problem: no chives grew in our yard. (Though we did have a wonderfully prolific and prickly raspberry patch!) I remember actually sneaking across a row of connected backyards, through the “forest” that ran across the back of our block– a forest so narrow you could actually see cars passing by on the road behind it– just to steal chives from an unknown neighbor’s backyard garden. Luckily, I was satisfied with only one chive at a time; I savored each chive, nibbling it slowly across an entire afternoon.

I can’t remember now who first taught me that the green little hollow blades sprouting from the dirt were not in fact grass but were actually edible, but I felt there was something secret and magical about that knowledge, and I became protective of it, like chives were my very own discovery or invention.

Now the secret is out. Chives make a flavorful and adorable garnish atop anything, really, but they are especially delicious enveloped in butter. Or rather the butter is especially delicious enveloping them. The chives give the butter an herby, earthy boost of flavor with a mild scent of onion and garlic just strong enough to be welcome, but not overpowering.

And if you’re not sure how you could possibly use up this much compound butter just by fancying up your morning toast ritual, then remember that butter freezes well.

Chives or not, butter is better homemade.

Print this recipe.


Homemade Chive Butter

(Makes about ¾ cup butter and about ¾ cup buttermilk)

~ 16 fl. oz. (2 cups) organic heavy whipping cream
~ fresh chives (I used about 15), finely diced
~ sea salt, to taste

How to make it:

1. Using a large, deep bowl and an electric hand mixer (or a stand mixer), mix the whipping cream until it becomes whipped cream, then very stiff whipped cream, then eventually starts to separate. This might take 5 whole minutes or so… Optionally add a bit of salt while mixing, though you can always add it later, too. The cream will separate into solids (butter) and liquids (buttermilk). Be advised that if the bowl you’re using is too shallow, then tiny drops of buttermilk will splash all over your kitchen.

  • (Alternate method: fill a clean and tightly-closing glass jar with the heavy whipping cream and shake it forcefully for several minutes until the buttermilk separates from the butter inside the jar.)

2. Pack the butter together with your hands, squeezing out extra buttermilk, and carefully pour or strain the buttermilk off to preserve that for another recipe.

3. Rinse the butter in a bowl of ice water, squeezing it gently with your hands, and changing the water 2-3 times. During the last rinse, you can mold the butter into your desired shape, or: transfer the still-soft butter to a bowl, and mix in the diced chives and sea salt to taste using a rubber spatula.

4. If the butter is too warm and melty to shape nicely after mixing in the salt and herbs, just place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes, then remove and re-shape. (You could also dunk it back in ice water to shape it.)

5. Store herbed butter in the fridge, and consume within the week, or freeze for later. Plain salted or unsalted butter (without fresh herbs) will last even longer– for two weeks or more– if kept in an airtight container in the fridge.

Print this recipe!

Related recipe posts:
> Canning 101: Strawberry Jam
> Buttermilk Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
> Homemade French Baguettes

29 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2012 9:11 am

    Yum… LOVE that butter! :)

    • October 4, 2012 9:23 am

      :) Me too! I’ve been eating way too much bread & butter all week– it’s so good.

  2. Shira permalink
    October 4, 2012 11:24 am

    This is the best Allison! Since France I have been wanting to make my own butter….perfect timing! I’ll be trying this and adding chives? Genius! Thanks!

    • October 5, 2012 7:52 am

      Yay, perfect timing indeed! And of course this would be good with any kind of herbs really, but I am very partial to chives. :)

  3. October 4, 2012 12:12 pm

    All melted and delicious this butter looks wow :)

    Choc Chip Uru

    • October 5, 2012 7:53 am

      Thanks :) I know I had to take two of these photos the next morning after making this, because I realized I hadn’t gotten any really good melty ones!

  4. October 4, 2012 12:47 pm

    I use to love to make butter as well….so simple, can’t go wrong! Adding the chives sounds super yummy!

    • October 5, 2012 7:54 am

      Yes, exactly! I love that it has only 3 ingredients… or 2 if you leave out chives, or 1 if you leave out salt. You can’t get much simpler than that.

  5. October 4, 2012 7:19 pm

    I am going to have to do this sometime with my kids. It’s like a little kitchen miracle. :)

    • October 5, 2012 7:55 am

      It is! And maybe the shaking-it-in-a-jar method would be even more fun, hands-on, and miraculous-seeming for the kids?!

  6. October 5, 2012 6:37 am

    Well done! The endresult looks very pretty & truly amazing too!

    • October 5, 2012 7:56 am

      Thank you! Yes, I’ve been very happy with the results, both this time and the first accidental time; it’s truly easy to make! :)

  7. Aoife.D permalink
    October 5, 2012 4:52 pm

    Love homemade butter, although I don’t always actually intend to make it! Looks yum!

    • October 6, 2012 7:40 pm

      Thanks! Yep, that’s exactly how I made it the first time… unintentionally :)

  8. October 5, 2012 9:09 pm

    Wow that looks awesome! I have a lot of extra sage now that is the end of summer, so will try using that instead of the chives and see how it works out.

    • October 6, 2012 7:46 pm

      Thanks! Sage butter sounds wonderful. I know chives aren’t exactly seasonal right now, but I just couldn’t help myself…

  9. sylvia silver permalink
    October 6, 2012 11:15 am

    no question about it-you have a poetic streak
    be it chives or any of your other inspirations concerning food
    grandma–another chive lover

    • October 6, 2012 7:47 pm

      Thanks, Grandma! I guess loving chives runs in the family!

  10. October 7, 2012 5:27 am

    Such a delicious treat, loved flavoring with chives, yummy:)

  11. October 7, 2012 12:16 pm


  12. October 7, 2012 4:17 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve never tried making butter before, I’ll have to do that next time I make bread!

    • October 8, 2012 10:58 am

      Definitely! My girlfriend bakes us fresh bread once or twice a week, so I’ve only tried my homemade butter on homemade bread, and the combination is SO good.

  13. October 20, 2012 11:01 am

    Oh my goodness, is it really that simple? I’m definitely trying this soon! And I have chives growing on my balcony! By the way, on one of her shows Nigella Lawson said that she’s heard that when making salted butter, they use ingredients of a lesser quality since the salt masks the taste. Interesting.

    • October 20, 2012 12:03 pm

      Yes, it really is that simple! And I’m jealous of your balcony chives! I’ve tried balcony chives a total of three times, and I always accidentally kill them :(

      And that is interesting about the salted butter– yet another reason to (make homemade salted butter and) always buy unsalted!


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