We’re Obsessed With Cowboy Butter and We’re Smearing It on Everything

Updated: Mar. 13, 2024

Seems like everyone is making this perfect steak pairing. But what is cowboy butter?

“Why has nobody told me about cowboy butter?” asks Jason Ortynski of Jorts Kitchen, in a TikTok video that’s gotten more than 10 million views. “It’s actually one of the best sauces I’ve ever had with my steak.” I’ve felt the same way recently. Cowboy butter isn’t necessarily a “new” recipe, but it’s something that I’ve been seeing everywhere over the past couple of weeks, similarly to vodka butter. I made it with a grilled ribeye steak, and I’m hooked. If you love steak, then cowboy butter will be your go-to dipping sauce.

What is cowboy butter?

Cowboy Butter on tik tokvia @jortskitchen/tiktok

Cowboy butter is a sort of mash-up of everything that goes great with steak: garlic, fresh herbs, mustard, chives, paprika, spicy peppers … and, of course, butter. It goes great with any type of steak. You may be familiar with other butter-plus-something condiments for steaks, such as garlic butter or basil butter, but cowboy butter takes things to another level.

No one seems to know where cowboy butter came from or who invented it. But this style of compound butter does have a history, according to food blogger The Food Dictator, who notes that it’s similar to what the French call “beurre Maître d’Hôtel,” a classic “beurre compose,” made with butter, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper. “The French have been using compound butters for hundreds of years,” he writes.

How do you make cowboy butter?

The best thing about cowboy butter is that it’s totally easy to make. All you have to do is melt a few tablespoons of butter, and then add lemon juice, lemon zest, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, paprika, and cayenne, and whisk that all together until it’s combined. Then, add the fresh chives, thyme, parsley, chili flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.

Be sure to whisk vigorously during preparation. Some natural separation is bound to happen, but don’t worry about it—cowboy butter is meant to be a little rustic. If the separation bothers you, put it in a blender or food processor.

Cowboy butter in this recipe definitely has a deliciously spicy kick. But to adjust the level of spiciness in your cowboy butter, simply cut back on the amount of cayenne and chili flakes you add in.

Use it as a condiment for steak, other meats, or even for cauliflower and roasted potatoes. Our Test Kitchen even used it to create a spicy steak sandwich, slathering a toasted bun with cowboy butter and then layering it on cast-iron seared steak, arugula, and your cheese of choice (we did provolone, but you could also try sharp white cheddar or Brie). Learn how to make cowboy lasagna.

Cowboy Butter Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Lemon zest
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add lemon juice, zest, garlic, mustard, paprika and cayenne, and whisk vigorously until combined
  3. Add parsley, chives, thyme, chili flakes and salt and pepper to taste, and continue whisking
  4. Allow to cool and serve alongside your main dish as a condiment

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