What’s not to love about a compound butter? Especially one that is richly colored and packed with earthy and savory notes.
That’s exactly what this simple saffron butter brings to the table. Perfect for finishing meats, seafood, rice, pasta, both starchy and non starchy vegetables, or it can even be used on breads or in sandwiches; the depth of earthy umami will enrich your palate and take your dishes to the next level!
What is Compound Butter?
A compound butter is a popular French cooking staple, and as fancy as that sounds, all it refers to is a butter with one or more things added in to flavor it. These butters are honestly never-ending in their combinations and can be anything from sweet to savory, spicy and everything in between.
How is Compound Butter Used?
Typically, a compound butter is used as either a finishing butter or as a spread.
As a finishing touch, a savory or spicy compound butter can be added after the cooking process is done to melt and mingle into the cooked dish with the residual heat or on top of your dish where it will be allowed to melt and cover the item. For example adding a savory compound butter to your pan seared fish or shrimp such as this festive and brightly flavored Lemon Dill Butter, or this Herbed Butter to your steaks and potatoes can heighten your dishes by adding a deeper element of rich savoriness in addition to the complementary flavorings in the butter itself.
Similarly, your compound butters are perfect to use as spread to top your breads, sandwiches, appetizers or even your pastries, cakes, waffles and muffins depending on the butter. For example, a sweetened coffee butter pairs amazingly with a warm slice of banana nut bread or some cinnamon butter slathered inside a freshly baked croissant are both sweet complements to each other.
Here’s Why You’ll Love This Simple Saffron Butter:
- It’s clean eating, gluten free, keto-friendly and lacto-vegetarian friendly.
- It uses simple, wholesome, pantry-staple ingredients.
- It takes just 5-minutes to make.
- It can use used to amplify and add flavor to most savory dishes from pastas to meats to vegetables.
- It can be used either as a spread or as a finishing touch to your dishes.
- It’s a simple addition to take your dishes to the next level.
Here’s What You Need To Make This Compound Butter:
- Butter: Salted or unsalted can be used. Ensure your butter is softened to room temp or a spreadable consistency, but not melted to a liquid form.
- Tamari or Soy Sauce: This is a small but major secret to making this butter next level. It adds amazing savory umami to the butter and perfectly complements the added spices. If you want to keep this recipe gluten free, ensure you’re using tamari or a gluten-free brand of soy sauce.
- Dried Onion: I recommend using dried onion instead of fresh onion or onion powder, however if needed, onion powder can be used in a pinch.
- Dried Garlic: While dried garlic works best, you can also use half a clove of freshly minced garlic.
- Parsley: dried of fresh parsley can be used. if using fresh, you can use either flat or curly leaf.
- Sugar: I’m using a finely blended raw cane sugar.
- White Pepper: A small touch of white pepper adds a mild touch of spicy earthiness.
- Paprika: My absolute favorite is a good quality smoked paprika, the smokiness elevates the butter to a whole new level.
- Ground Turmeric: I’m using my favorite brand of ground turmeric powder.
Turmeric -VS- Saffron
Now I know you might be thinking, “but wait, this is a saffron butter, but I’m only seeing turmeric in the ingredients??” Yes, you are correct, and the simple answer is that you can use either. If you happen to have real saffron threads on hand, absolutely use it, but since saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world, it’s not a spice many would have on hand and for most home cooks, the more affordable substitute – turmeric – is a much more viable option.
So for the fun of things, let’s compare the two spices.
- Origin & Appearance: Turmeric is a golden-colored root plant that is a part of the ginger family. The golden-yellow root is dried and then crushed and ground up into a powder of the same vibrant color. Saffron on the other hand is usually bought in thread-like forms that harvested by hand-plucking the bright red stigma of the purple-colored autumn crocus flower. Once used in a dish, saffron gives off a bright golden yellow color.
- Smell: Turmeric smells deeply rich and earthy, whereas Saffron smells sweet with a husky floral undertones.
- Taste: Turmeric imparts an earthy and bitter flavor with gingery-peppery undertones. Saffron on the other hand imparts an earthy and grassy flavor with slightly sweet undertones. It’s important to note that a little bit of saffron threads go a long way when it comes to taste. Too much can end up giving your dish a bitter/medicinal flavor.
- Price: Turmeric root is affordable, and while the prices can vary you can obtain the root for as low as $0.58 per oz, or the ground version for anywhere between $1.25 – $8.15 per oz. On the other end of the spectrum, Saffron is ranked as the most expensive spice in the world since the crocus flower is a high maintenance plant with minimal yields. The flowers only blossom for one week of the year and each flower only produces 3 stigmas (saffron threads). Needing to be hand-picked and dried with great care, the harvesting process is labor-intensive. All of these factors means that the cost of real, authentic saffron sits at as much as $125.00 – $625.00 per oz!
Notes about saffron: it’s recommended to never buy ground saffron, and even cheaper versions of the threads are to be eyed with speculation since a lot of saffron brands on the market are not authentic, and even if real saffron is present, you might be dismayed to find that it is adulterated with fillers such as dyed safflower, corn silk, or even paper.
If you’re wondering how you can test to determine if your saffron threads are the real deal, Laura, over at Mother Would Know, has conducted a great test using her own saffron threads that makes a great guide for determining if your saffron is real or potentially fake.
Here’s How Easy this Compound Butter is to Make:
If using saffron threads instead of turmeric powder, grind two pinches of the threads in a mortar using a pestle and add a tsp of hot water and allow it to steep before adding it to the butter.
To the bowl of softened butter, add all the flavorings, and, using a spatula mix it all together until fully combined.
The turmeric or saffron will color your butter with a rich golden hue and the specks of paprika will be visible along with the other flavorings.
Can I Make This Butter Into A Spread?
If you’d like to have this butter as a spread, then grab your hand mixer to whip your butter until it’s light and fluffy (about 3-5 min). Once done, place your aerated and whipped saffron butter into a airtight jar or container and kept in the fridge for up to a week!
Scrape your butter onto the middle of a piece of clean, food grade plastic or parchment paper and carefully roll it into a log shape. The easiest way to do this is to make a hammock by folding the bottom left corner to meet the top left corner, and the bottom right to meet the top right. From there smooth the butter into a log shape and roll the plastic tightly while pinching or tying the ends to keep the butter in place.
With your log shaped, pop it into the fridge to chill and set up. Once it’s set, cut your butter into rounds and use as desired. It’s honestly that simple!
Suggestions for Using your Saffron Butter:
This savory butter balances all flavor elements from the salty to the rich umami with a bright pop of herbs and sweetness. This butter is an amazing addition to:
- To finish cooked seafood such as shrimp and fish – especially white flaky fish.
- To finish cooked meats such as chicken or beef.
- To steamed or stir fried vegetables.
- Mixed into hot, steamed rice or cous-cous.
- Mixed into your cooked pasta.
- Mixed into your scrambled eggs.
- To your piping hot bowl of ramen.
- Slathered on your freshly made naans
- Spread onto bread or crackers or even slices of cucumber to serve appetizers.
- As a spread for meat and/or cheese sandwiches.
This butter is so versatile and one of our favorites so I really do hope you give this recipe a try and that you love it as much as we do. If you do try this recipe, let us know your thoughts by leaving a rating and dropping us a comment below. From our sunshiny kitchen to yours, we wish you happy eats.
Simple Saffron Butter
- 8 tbsp salted butter softened/room temp
- 4 tsp dehydrated onion
- 2 tsp dried garlic or half clove finely mincd garlic
- ½ tsp turmeric powder or two pinches of saffron threads *see note
- 1 tsp raw cane sugar finely blended
- 1 tsp fresh parsley
- ½ tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
- ¼ tsp white pepper optional
- In a medium bowl, add your softened butter along with all the spices. Using a spatula, combine everything into a well blended paste.
- Scoop your butter onto a piece of parchment or plastic and roll and shape your butter into a log, being sure to tie off the ends with string to allow your butter to keep it's shape. Set your saffron butter into the fridge to chill until set. If you have a silicone ice tray or candy mold, this is also a great way to portion out your butter and store the blocks and cubes to be used as needed.
- Set your saffron butter into the fridge to chill until set, then cut and use as needed. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for anywhere between 6-9 months.
- If using saffron threads, add two pinches to a mortar and grind it with your pestle. Add a tsp of HOT water and allow it to steep for a few minutes before adding it to the butter.
- If you'd like to have this butter as a spread, then grab your hand mixer to whip your butter until it's light and fluffy (about 3-5 min). Once done, place your aerated and whipped saffron butter into a airtight jar or container and kept in the fridge for up to a week!