Butter late than never.

By Ananda Eidelstein
Updated January 18, 2018
Land O'Lakes Butter
Credit: Joy Skipper/Getty Images

We already know the magical powers of butter, how it can enhance a simple piece of toast or make a sauce smooth and silky. But with a couple of tweaks to a humble stick, you can transform breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert into something truly sublime. We call it compound butter, the simple process of mashing other flavors—think herbs, spices, honey—into unsalted butter for added oomph. You'll call it genius.

Start with 1 stick softened unsalted butter. To perk up breakfast, stir in a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Or try adding some freshly grated lemon zest and a pinch of salt. They would both be nice smeared on toast, or layered in a stack of pancakes. But both would do just fine tossed with roasted carrots or sweet potatoes as well.

If you have extra herbs on hand, finely chop and stir into the softened butter with a bit of finely chopped shallot. And don't forget the salt! It will help enhance the flavor of anything you stir into the butter. An herb butter like this one is a the perfect match for seared or grilled meats and even fish.

Our current obsession is an Asian-inspired compound butter made with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and crumbled nori. I add this butter to cooked rice or grains for an added flavor boost.

If you like a kick, mash in some chopped Peppadew peppers, Calabrian chiles, or crushed red pepper flakes—it’ll be great on a baguette sandwich (try it with Prosciutto!). Love pickles? Try this one.

We like flaky salt for the added texture the flakes provide, but if you don't have it, just just a pinch of whatever you have on hand. Why not just use salted butter? Well, you could, but we prefer to have the option to add as little or as much as we like.

RELATED: Common Types of Butter

The beauty of compound butter is that there are an unlimited number of variations to try. Just choose a few ingredients you love, stir them in, and you've got an instant flavor-booster. To store the butter, roll tightly into a cylinder using plastic wrap or simply store in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. You’ll be using it in so many ways we can’t promise it’ll last long, but it’s best stored in the fridge.