Combine Your Love of Art and Fat and Make a Butter Terrine

Combine Your Love of Art and Fat and Make a Butter Terrine

Both of my younger (identical) sisters are accomplished visual artists, whereas I — in spite of having taken Drawing for Non-Majors during my last semester at the University of Florida — struggle to draw stick figures. This lack of artistic ability extends to cake decorating, or anything that requires fine motor skills. I am, however, fully capable of mashing softened compound butters into a mould to make a visually interesting, if somewhat rustic, butter terrine.

A butter terrine is exactly what it sounds like — butter that has been layered into a mould or loaf pan, chilled, and then served in slices. You can flavour and colour the different butters as much or as little as you like, and you can suspend things (like radishes) in the layers to create a stunning, or at least curious, visual effect.

Other than butter, and stuff to put in your butter, you’ll need a mould. I used a vintage Pyrex loaf pan, and lined it with plastic wrap, but a silicone loaf pan or mould would work beautifully, and result in a smoother, unwrinkled exterior (though I think the little squiggles look kind of cool).

About that butter: You’re need a lot of it. I ended up using four whole sticks when filling my 1 1/2-pint Pyrex dish, and it still wasn’t all the way full. You’re also going to want to let it soften completely before attempting to make a compound butter, unless you want a terrine to be punctuated with greasy little butter chunks, completely fucking up the vibe.

The most difficult part of making a butter terrine is choosing your compound butter. I have many suggestions for such, but for the terrine you see above, I kept it very simple, summery, and fresh, and layered basil butter with Meyer lemon butter, then capped it off with a layer of plain butter studded with radishes. (I do wish I had used a few more radishes, but I think it has a kind of neat modern art look, no?)

Photo: Claire Lower
Photo: Claire Lower

Basil Lemon Butter Terrine


  • 4 sticks (2 cups) of salted butter, softened and at room temperature
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
  • The zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4-6 radishes, washed with stems and root tap removed

Line a small loaf pan (about 1 1/2 pints in volume) with plastic wrap and set aside. Finely chiffonade the basil leaves, then rotate the cutting board 90 degrees and chop the ribbons into smaller bits. Add to a bowl with one stick of butter and mush and mash until the basil is evenly dispersed. Spread into the loaf pan and smooth the top out as much as you can. Pop it in the fridge while you make the next layer (at least five minutes).

Add the lemon zest, juice, sugar, and another stick of butter to a bowl, and mix until the zest is evenly dispersed, then spread that compound butter on top of the basil compound butter. Return the loaf pan to the fridge for five minutes.

Take the last two sticks of butter and mash them in a bowl until they are spreadable. Spread half of the butter on top of the lemon butter layer, then gently press the radishes into the butter. (I just kind of scattered them around, but those with a more visually-inclined mind could probably do a better job.)

Photo: Claire Lower
Photo: Claire Lower

Cover the radishes with the rest of the butter, then set the whole thing in the fridge to chill overnight.

When you’re ready to serve your butter terrine, just lift the whole thing out of the loaf pan by gently tugging on the plastic wrap. Serve with a nice country loaf, or as part of a butter flight.

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