For A Perfectly Salty Compound Butter, Pop Open A Can Of Anchovies

If you're looking for an accessible way to embark on your maiden foray into the world of anchovies, look no further than compound butter. Anchovy compound butter is great to have on hand for finishing your dishes. It's low-effort prep with a major culinary payoff, and all it takes is two ingredients: butter and anchovies. Plus, it's easy to make in large batches or smaller individual servings and holds up well in the freezer for later use.

In the same way that anchovies are the secret ingredient that gives Caesar salad dressing its salty, slightly umami flavor, anchovies will add that perfect amount of savoriness to your butter. This recipe is also a great way to use up the leftover can of anchovies you opened and never got to finish. Save them from the fridge-to-spoilage-to-trash-can pipeline and put that can of anchovies to good use. Here's how to do it.

How to elevate your butter to salty stardom

To whip up a quick anchovy compound butter, simply soften the butter, mash the anchovies, and mix to combine. You could mix using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, in a stand mixer, using electric beaters, or by hand with a fork — different strokes for different folks, and they all work just as well with this recipe.

Opt for unsalted butter here, as the canned anchovies and their canning oils will pack all the saltiness you'll need. Also, opt for high-quality anchovies (not to be confused with sardines), as there will be few if any bones in the filets. As a starting point, use two anchovy filets per stick of butter, but you can always add more or less to adjust to taste.

Feel free to get creative here — along with the butter and anchovies, you could add in minced garlic, lemon zest, black pepper, or fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, dill, and parsley. Refrigerate for at least an hour to help the butter set up, then comes the fun part: eating it. We've rounded up some potential uses to get your butter brainstorm rolling.

As many ways to enjoy as there are fish in the sea

Perhaps the most obvious use is to spread your savory umami anchovy compound butter on fresh crusty bread. You could also stir into warm elbow macaroni for some elevated buttered noodles along with smoked flaky sea salt, ground herbs, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. 

Use it to finish a pan-seared steak, or for plant-based foodies, it'd be delicious on oven-roasted vegetables, especially milder veggies that could benefit from an extra salty kick, like cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, or broccoli. Slather a generous pat of anchovy butter all over a halved roasted acorn squash and some grilled asparagus.

For brunch, spread your anchovy compound butter on the English muffin of an eggs Benedict, or use it as a rich finishing touch on a muffuletta. You could even incorporate your anchovy compound butter into some homemade savory pastries like ham and Gruyère croissants, gougères, or Australian meat pies.