How to make a butterboard according to the trend’s creator

A beautiful butter board made with tips from Joshua McFadden/Photo by Caleb Condit and Rebecca Norden

By now, you’ve seen just about everything served on a wood board. Charcuterie boards have become an art form, and they’re going beyond meats and cheeses to adorn snacks like nachos, spaghetti and candy. Butter has entered the chat.

The bread and butter of a butter board is, well, bread and butter. Softened butter is spread across a platter and topped with the maker’s choice of seasonings, herbs and toppings. And the final step is the butter-to-mouth vehicle such as bread or crackers.

The butterboard erupted on TikTok a few months ago (the hashtag #butterboard is at three hundred thirty-two million views and counting), but the origin of the trend goes back fifteen years to Portland chef Joshua McFadden. At the time, McFadden was working on a farm for agriculture icon Eliot Coleman.

“It started out as kind of an elegant way to have people sit down to a first course at these little farm dinners I was doing,” he says. Living on a farm, he was able to forage unique herbs, fruits and vegetables to make herbed and salted butters. “I tried to combine different textures and flavors and add some visual appeal. There’s just a lot of micro-moments.”

And so the butter board was born. McFadden’s infamous butter board is also featured in a cookbook he co-authored titled Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables.

Butter boards can be done a million and one ways, but there’s one particular board that McFadden dubs his favorite: “We put crab and lobster on top of the butter and also added preserved lemon and seaweed and brown butter on top. We served it with this toasted brioche so it was almost reminiscent of a crab roll or a lobster roll.”

McFadden’s Ideal Christmas Butter Board

“I really love Italian food and often do Feast of the Seven Fishes-inspired things, so I think I’d probably get some canned fish involved in that. Pickled fish, smoked fish, preserved fish of all kinds. I’d also add some lemon zest, rosemary, pickles, capers, red onions and parsley.”

  1. Let butter soften at room temperature.
  2. Flatten butter with a large spoon across a wood board or in a shallow dish.
  3. Salt and pepper the butter and add other seasonings of your choice.
  4. Spread on another layer of butter and add more seasoning.
  5. Texture is important: Top with crunchy foods like pickles, olives, fruits and nuts.
  6. Refrigerate the board until it’s ready to serve.
  7. Serve with your dipper of choice. McFadden recommends nut bread, crackers, brioche and toasted bread. Or make it a smorgasbord of different types of bread and crackers.

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