Garlic Butter

updated Nov 15, 2023
Garlic Butter Recipe

You only need 4 ingredients to make garlic butter that you can use on anything from bread to steaks to vegetables.

Makesabout 1/3 cup

Prep10 minutes

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Compound butter (softened butter that has been whipped with various sweet or savory ingredients) in a bowl with a knife beside it
Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Styling: Kristina Vanni

I promise you will never regret making or having garlic butter around. When combined, the two simple ingredients turn into a culinary powerhouse called a compound butter, coating everything it touches with delicious flavor as it melts. A stash of garlic butter means easy garlic bread at your fingertips, extra-flavorful steaks, and an quick way to dress hot pasta, baked potatoes, or rice. Here’s how to make a simple but classic garlic butter.

The 4 Ingredients You Need for Garlic Butter

  1. Butter: You can use unsalted butter or salted butter here. If you’re using salted butter, skip adding salt to the garlic butter.
  2. Garlic: This is the key flavoring in garlic butter, so use fresh to get the best garlic flavor (although frozen garlic would be fine here too). Don’t use jarred garlic, which has been treated with other ingredients and doesn’t taste the same.
  3. Parsley: Chopped parsley leaves add a light herby flavor and pretty green pops of color.
  4. Salt: Garlic butter needs salt to bring all the flavors together.

How Do You Make Garlic Butter from Scratch? 

  • Soften the butter. Let 1 stick of butter sit out until softened, or speed things up by grating it on the large holes of a box grater.
  • Chop the garlic. Finely chop fresh garlic until you have about 1 tablespoon.
  • Add the remaining seasonings. Add the garlic, kosher salt, and chopped parsley to the butter and stir and mash until combined.
Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Styling: Kristina Vanni

How Long Does Homemade Garlic Butter Last?

Garlic butter can be shaped into a cylinder and wrapped up tightly in plastic wrap, then refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for a few months. Thaw before using, and cut off what you need from one end before rewrapping.

Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Styling: Kristina Vanni

How to Use Garlic Butter

  • As a compound butter. Top cooked steaks, seafood, or meats with pieces of garlic butter and watch it melt and turn into a flavorful sauce as it mingles with the juices.
  • On hot pasta. For the simplest pasta dish, toss hot cooked pasta with garlic butter. 
  • With vegetables. Steam or sauté vegetables until cooked, then add garlic butter right at the end to coat and flavor the veggies.
  • To make garlic bread, cut 1 (1-pound) loaf soft Italian or French bread in half horizontally. Spread the garlic butter on the cut sides. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet cut-side up and bake in a 425ºF oven until the bread is crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.

Garlic Butter Recipe

You only need 4 ingredients to make garlic butter that you can use on anything from bread to steaks to vegetables.

Prep time 10 minutes

Makes about 1/3 cup

Nutritional Info


  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 3 to 4 cloves


  • 4 sprigs

    fresh parsley

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt


  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in a small bowl and let sit at room temperature until softened. (If you want to speed things up, grate the butter on the large holes of a box grater first.)

  2. Finely chop 3 to 4 garlic cloves until you have 1 tablespoon. Finely chop the leaves from 4 sprigs fresh parsley until you have 2 teaspoons. Add the garlic, parsley, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the butter. Smash and stir into the butter until combined.

  3. To shape the garlic butter into a roll: If not using immediately, spoon the garlic butter lengthwise onto a sheet of plastic wrap a few inches longer than a stick of butter. Roll the garlic butter up tightly in the plastic wrap. Twist the plastic wrap at each end of the garlic butter (like how a Tootsie roll is wrapped). Holding a twisted end in each hand, roll the log along the work surface to tighten and shape the roll. If the plastic wrap is long enough, tie a knot at each end; otherwise, tie a piece of kitchen twine at each end. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use (thaw overnight if frozen before using). To use, unwrap and cut crosswise into rounds of garlic butter.

Recipe Notes

Using salted butter: Salted butter can be substituted for the unsalted; just omit the kosher salt.

Storage: The garlic butter can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.