Ingredient Intelligence

A Frozen Stash of Garlic Butter Will Be Your Dinner Secret Weapon

updated Jan 29, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

While I love garlic immensely, I often want to skip the peeling and mincing of it on busy weeknights. Sometimes I’m even too exhausted to dirty the garlic press. My solution: always keeping a stash of garlic butter in the freezer. I regularly lean on my freezer for quick weeknight meals, so it should come as no surprise that it’s also my secret for tastier, more garlicky weeknight dinners.

Not only can garlic butter be used to finish off a pot of pasta when you were just planning on eating buttered noodles, but it can also improve a pan of quick weeknight eggs or ramen, or even a quick batch of biscuits. Go clear a little space in the freezer and get some butter out on the counter, because I’m going to walk you through how to make a big batch of garlicky butter that’s going to make every dinner taste so much better, without a whole lot of effort.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

How to Stock Your Freezer with Garlic Butter

Garlic butter is essentially a compound butter. This is a very fancy restaurant name for a method of flavoring butter with everything from herbs and spices to cocoa and sugar that is actually dead simple: You soften some butter and then mix in salt and garlic. Really, that’s it! The best ratio of garlic to butter is 4 cloves minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt for every 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter. Chopped parsley or other fresh herbs are optional but help make an even more flavorful and beautiful garlic butter.

You’ll most often see fancy compound butter shaped into a log, which works well for restaurants who go through it quickly. As a home cook, though, you’ll get much more satisfaction and your garlic butter will be easier to use if you portion it before freezing. You can use a small ice cream scoop to portion the butter into tablespoon doses onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. No scoop? No problem. Move your softened garlic butter to a zip-top or piping bag, and squeeze the butter into small portions. Or, if you’ve got ice cube trays you can dedicate to freezing butter, you can use them to portion cute little cubes of garlic butter. Word to the wise, though: Garlic butter can leave lingering odors in your plastic trays, so you might not want to use them for cocktail ice after they’ve held garlic butter.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

How to Use Your Frozen Garlic Butter Treasure Trove

Once frozen, move the portioned garlic butter to a freezer bag or airtight container for longer-term storage. Frozen garlic butter keeps well for up to three months.

You can pull out as much garlic butter as you need, anytime you want to add flavor to a basic meal — no need to thaw first — or you can use it to build any of the recipes below. Once you have garlic butter in your freezer, you’ll never have a dull dinner again. Not to mention, you won’t be mincing garlic every night of the week.

Try Our Favorite Recipes with Garlic Butter