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Place a slice of garlic scape butter atop a perfectly cooked steak or fish fillet and watch as it melts into a silky, flavorful sauce before your eyes.

garlic scape butter on parchment with a small knife and a garlic scape
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Why we love this recipe

Compound butters are a breezy party trick. Chop up a handful of herbs, alliums, or other aromatics, mix them into some room temperature butter, and wrap the whole thing up to chill. They’ll keep in the fridge for a month and in the freezer for much longer and provide an instant upgrade to a wide variety of meals.

Garlic scape butter, flecked with scapes and lemon zest, is a vibrant take on this classic ingredient.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Use a really good-quality butter if you can. Here and virtually everywhere, I start with a cultured, salted butter from grass-fed cows. This sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is sold in most supermarkets at a reasonable price.
  • Garlic scapes are the shoots that grow out of the ground from hard-neck varieties of garlic. When they’re young and tender, they look like curly green stalks with tightly closed buds on top. Farmers harvest them so that they won’t drain nutrients from the garlic bulbs themselves.
  • If possible, use an organic, unwaxed lemon when you’re zesting, and be sure to give it a really good wash.

How to make it

Here’s what you’ll do to make a super-simple, super-delicious batch of garlic scape butter. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Place room-temperature butter and garlic scapes into a mixing bowl.
  2. Grate the lemon zest overtop, sprinkle in the salt, and mix well.
  3. Scoop butter mixture onto a piece of parchment or plastic wrap. Roll into a log and twist the ends to seal.
  4. Chill until solid, then slice and place atop cooked steak, fish, vegetables, and more.

Expert tips and FAQs

How do you use compound butter?

Once chilled, you can slice it and use in a variety of ways. To me, its absolute genius lies in the way it turns into an instant sauce as it melts over grilled steak, perfectly cooked fish, roast chicken, a steaming bowl of crisp-tender vegetables, or a plate of scrambled eggs.

You can also simply serve it at the table with a great loaf of bread — and this version makes a fabulous amped-up garlic bread when tucked into a crusty loaf and warmed in the oven.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Absolutely! Part of the beauty of compound butters is that they’re waiting for you when you need them.

You’ll need to make this recipe at least a few hours in advance so it will have a chance to chill before slicing. And you can make it much further ahead if you like. As long as you’ve wrapped it well, it will keep in the fridge for a month, and in the freezer for up to a year.

a tangle of garlic scapes on a light background

More ways to use garlic scapes

  • To flavor our super-popular hummus
  • In a savory frittata
  • In a luscious tart
  • To make a simple, fabulous pasta
  • And of course, in pesto. (That post, which I wrote for Serious Eats circa 2010, has more great suggestions, too, along with this: “In one sense, scapes are to garlic as fusilli is to rigatoni: the crazy-bastard college buddy who never really embraced adulthood, the one you catch up with by phone once or twice a year.” So.)
garlic scape butter on parchment with a small knife and a garlic scape

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garlic scape butter on parchment with a small knife and a garlic scape
4.75 from 8 votes

Garlic Scape Butter

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Compound butters are a breezy party trick. Place a slice of garlic scape butter atop a perfectly cooked steak or fish fillet and watch as it melts into a silky, flavorful sauce before your eyes.
Prep: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8
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Ingredients 

  • 8 tablespoons (112 grams) butter, at room temperature
  • 5 garlic scapes, thinly sliced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions 

  • Place room-temperature butter and garlic scapes into a mixing bowl.
  • Grate the lemon zest overtop and sprinkle in the salt.
  • Mix well.
  • Scoop butter mixture onto a piece of parchment or plastic wrap.
  • Roll into a log (refer to video to see this in action) and twist the ends to seal.
  • Chill until solid, then slice and use as desired.

Notes

  1. It’s very important to start with room-temperature butter for ease of mixing. Take it out the night before if you remember, or at least a couple of hours in advance. (If you forget, you can put it in a zip-top bag and beat the bejeezus out of it with a rolling pin until softened.)
  2. Use a really good-quality butter if you can. Here and virtually everywhere, I start with a cultured, salted butter from grass-fed cows. This sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is sold in most supermarkets at a reasonable price. You can use salted or unsalted butter and adjust the amount of salt that you add to suit your taste.
  3. Scapes vary in length, and the exact amount doesn’t matter too much here. Five scapes equals about 1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced, but you can adjust to your preference.
  4. Scapes have a stem and a tightly closed bud at the top that tapers to a thin wisp. You can choose whether to include or discard the bud. I like to use it, but note that it can taste even stronger than the stem.
  5. Compound butter will keep in the fridge for a month and in the freezer for up to a year. Wrap it tightly in something airtight for best results with long-term storage.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 108kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 31mg, Sodium: 158mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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2 Comments

    1. Hi Heather, I actually have never worked with dried lemon zest, but as long as it’s finely enough grated so that it would soften up when stirred into the butter, I don’t see why not.