A butter board in a bright yellow frame
Photography, Jessica Doiron

What you need to know about the suddenly popular butter board

One of the latest oddly appealing food trends to go viral on TikTok may not be as good as it seems.

Butter is a staple ingredient for fine dining chefs, pastry chefs and home cooks alike. It plays the best supporting role for thickening sauces, sautéing vegetables, and adding an undeniable richness to any plate, but this imminent spread is rarely the star of a dish…until now.

The “butter board” takes centre stage as the latest online food trend that has swept across TikTok videos, food blogs, news channels and celebrity dining tables. Its title is self explanatory – butter on boards. That probably sounds too simple to have caused such a commotion, so what’s the catch? The butter is glorified. Find it feathered across wooden boards and marble plates, drizzled with honey, sprinkled with coarse salt, then garnished with herbs and edible flowers. First seen in 2017 as a recipe in Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables, the butter board has since then been popularized through a viral TikTok tutorial by Justine Doiron (@justine_snacks).  But even after this aesthetic enhancement, a controversial question remains: does dipping bread into butter that has been spread onto a board make it better?

@themodernnonna A Butter Board IS THE MOST BRILLIANT IDEA I Have Ever Come Across 🤯 IB: @justine_snacks #butter #butterboard #fyp ♬ original sound – THEMODERNNONNA

Hundreds of thousands of TikTok users seem to think so, with zealous claims that the butter board is the new and improved charcuterie board. Apparently, the centuries-old French tradition of plating cured meats alongside an assortment of decadent cheeses has now been deemed passé. 

Over the past month, butter board fans have gotten creative with varying flavour profiles. Celebrity chefs like Chef K (@chefklosangeles) served up savoury butter board spreads for the Kardashian family, opting for compound butters filled with herbs and topped with roasted garlic. While Jamie Milne (@everything_delish), a self-taught cook, preferred to make a sweeter spread with figs and nuts.

The trend has recently gone beyond butter to anything that can be shareable and spread: tzatziki, hummus, and now even Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. And to take the fad one step further, people are purchasing bread shaped boards on Etsy. According to these home cooks, etsy artists and big brands, boards have no bounds.

@everything_delish butter boards > charcuterie boards! Love this trend! IB: @justine_snacks #butterboards #fyp #butter ♬ love nwantinti (ah ah ah) – CKay

It’s difficult to ignore the blaring health problems that can come from regularly using butter and ice cream as dips. Others have also pointed out that there is a higher likelihood that bacterial colonies will grow in the wood grain crevices of unclean boards that have been smothered in butter. Thus, numerous skeptics remain unconvinced that it’s necessary or even beneficial to jump onto this cultural bandwagon. 

The term gourmet implies an artful approach to food – a focus on craft and refinement. Spreading something on a wooden board may make it shareable and trendy, but it does not necessarily make it better nor gourmet. Skeptics of butter boards have suggested numerous solutions to the perceived problem of this TikTok food trend frenzy. The most well received alternative has been the recommendation to spread butter directly on an edible board: bread.

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