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What Is Cowboy Butter?

Ribeye steak with herb butter on the side

Cowboy butter might sound like something reserved for the open range. But, it’s really a compound butter that’s taking over the food side of TikTok. If you’re a steak lover, this is the “condiment” you’ve been looking for. It’s savory, bursting with flavor, and you’ll want to douse and dip just about everything in it once you know how to make it.

There are different variations of cowboy butter rolling around the internet, but all of them have the same basic theme—

Pack as much herbaceous flavor into a smooth and creamy butter sauce as possible.

Cowboy butter is a mash-up of anything you might typically enjoy with a steak. Recipes include ingredients like rosemary, garlic, chives, mustard, etc. Some people go one step further to up the richness of the butter by adding roasted or smoked bone marrow.

The sky is really the limit when it comes to what you can add as long as you’re keeping things herby and putting in at least one ingredient that will give it a kick, like chile flakes or hot peppers.

The idea of using compound butter on steak is nothing new. The French have been doing it for years and it’s become popular in the U.S. over the last several years, too.

But, cowboy butter is different in that it isn’t typically meant to be served cold on top of a hot steak to melt. Rather, you serve it warm alongside your steak (or chicken, or whatever you’d like—you could probably enjoy it on a stick, though we won’t recommend that) as a sort of dipping sauce.

To make cowboy butter, melt a few tablespoons of good quality butter, then add a squeeze of lemon juice and minced garlic. From there, feel free to add your favorite steakhouse flavors, from chives and thyme to cayenne and Dijon mustard.

It’s important to whisk your butter vigorously after adding other ingredients. You don’t want it to separate at all. As you whisk, it will cool slightly and the flavors of the other ingredients will infuse the butter, so every bite is as delicious as the one before.

Maybe you’ve seen cowboy butter circulating online, or maybe this is the first you’ve heard of it. Whatever the case, if you’re looking for something different to spice up your next steak night, give it a try and see what all of the hootin’ and hollerin’ is about! Yee-haw!

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