May 052014
Smoky Jalapeno Compound Butter

Smoky Jalapeno Compound Butter

Compound butter is, quite simply, a softened butter into which you have stirred/mashed/infused/incorporated other flavorings. It’s an old workhorse of French cuisine, and it’s incredibly easy to whip one up. Herbs of all stripes, aromatic vegetables such as onion, garlic, peppers, or shallots, soft cooked fruits, spices, flavorful roots such as horseradish or ginger, assorted salts, miso, hot sauce, citrus zest, and/or sweet flavorings such as honey, maple syrup, or pomegranate molasses, are all excellent candidates for inclusion in a compound butter.

I like to do a peach-honey compound butter at the height of summer, to melt over cornbread and spicy grilled meats and vegetables. Garlic-cilantro compound butter is fantastic on seafood, or spread on fresh tortillas.

Today, I wanted to make a compound butter to further emphasize the smokiness imparted by a charcoal grill. I rubbed this butter on tilapia filets before wrapping them in prosciutto and grilling them, and I saved the extra to melt over the skewers of garlic-marinated eggplant, red peppers, onions, and red potatoes that I grilled alongside the fish.

We also ate some of the butter on the aforementioned red potatoes, which I’d parboiled before grilling, as an amuse-bouche– delicious.  I’m lucky any of the potatoes and butter actually made it to their intended purpose.

Smoky Jalapeño Compound Butter from


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, well-softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked salt
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 shallot clove
  • 1 large garlic clove


  1. Finely dice the jalapeños, shallot, and garlic.
  2. Incorporate into the softened butter.
  3. Stir the smoked salt into the butter mixture.
  4. It's ready to use immediately. If you intend to use it later, roll the butter in plastic wrap into a tight log and re-chill. Later, you can slice it into individual servings. Melt it over a grilled steak, chicken or fish, top potatoes with it, enliven grilled vegetables, or spread it over warm, crusty bread or tortillas.

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