Cowboy Butter


This supremely flavorful compound butter can be a dip, spread, or steak topper.

Southern Living Cowboy Butter finished on a small board to serve with slices of bread

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 10 mins

While compound butters have been used by chefs for decades to elevate basic dishes, cowboy butter is a favorite with home cooks. Combining butter with herbs, spices, garlic, and other flavorful ingredients turns the spread into a high-impact ingredient. Here, learn how to make cowboy butter and how to use it for unforgettable meals.

What Is Cowboy Butter?

Cowboy Butter is a type of compound butter, which is a mixture of herbs, spices, and butter, formed into a roll and then sliced.

Cowboy butter can also be melted and mixed with all these ingredients for a dip. However, mixing it with butter and forming it into a log makes it easier to make ahead and have this flavorful butter ready for dinner.

It's the perfect pairing for a grilled ribeye steak, roasted potatoes, or roast beef sliders. But we wouldn't be opposed to eating a smear on baguette or fresh radishes.

Ingredients in Cowboy Butter

Our recipe for cowboy butter calls for butter, garlic, parsley, chives, smoked paprika, lemon zest, Dijon mustard, crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper.

If you want a little more heat, use cayenne in place of the crushed red pepper. Coarse mustard provides a stronger flavor and texture in place of Dijon.

Once you make cowboy butter for the first time, you can mix and match the other ingredients to create one you and your family love. Compound butters are very forgiving and great for creativity. They're also a fun way to use up surplus herbs and spices in a unique way.

Southern Living Cowboy Butter ingredients

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Temperature Tip

Though this recipe is super simple, it’s easiest to make when the butter is at room temperature, so plan ahead a bit and leave your butter on the counter for about an hour (depending on your home's heat).

How To Serve Cowboy Butter

You can use it to top grilled steaks, chicken, fish fillets, and vegetables. Cowboy Butter also makes a fantastic garlic bread spread, or melt it for a dip.

Consider using it in sliders like these French Dip Sliders for a certain special something on a classic appetizer. It would be fantastic spread on a hamburger, too.

Can I Make Cowboy Butter Ahead of Time?

You can keep it in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it for 6 months.


  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp. lemon zest, from 1 lemon

  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

  • Pinch crushed red pepper

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper


  1. Stir the butter and other ingredients together:

    In a bowl, add the butter, garlic, parsley, chives, paprika, lemon zest, mustard, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

    Southern Living Cowboy Butter ingredients in a bowl

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Mix together with a spatula or wooden spoon until well combined.

    Southern Living Cowboy Butter stirring together the butter ingredients

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    You can also prepare this in a stand mixer or food processor.

  2. Shape and chill:

    Transfer the butter mixture to a large sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper.

    Southern Living Cowboy Butter softened butter mixture on a piece of plastic wrap

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Roll the butter into a log shape, pressing and shaping as you go. Twist the ends of the wrap or paper together (like a piece of candy) until very taut and uniform in shape.

    Southern Living Cowboy Butter log rolled up and ready to chill

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Refrigerate the butter for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld and the shape to hold.

  3. Get ready to use:

    To use, remove the butter from the refrigerator, and cut it into slices. Top grilled meats and seafood, steamed vegetables or grains, or spread onto bread and broil.

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