We, as a society of eaters in the United States, have put the charcuterie board through so much. With no apologies to the French, we have allowed — nay, enabled — Instagrammers to manipulate meats into “charcuterie chalets.” We have looked on as bloggers churned out “charcuterie boards” with not a slice of cured meat to be seen. We have proven a willing audience for a slew of new Instagram-conscious cookbooks that suggest anything can be turned into a board.
The latest entry in the boardification of everything: butter, which is gaining traction on TikTok via the “butter board.” “Have you heard of a butter board?,” asks recipe developer Justine Doiron of Justine Snacks in a video that’s been making the rounds across TikTok. “I want to make them the next charcuterie board.”
Though Doiron’s butter board video kicked off the current trend, with 7.6 million views as of this writing, she credits the concept to chef Joshua McFadden, who included a similar recipe in his 2017 cookbook. To make a butter board, all one does is soften butter, spread it onto a board, and then top it with things like herbs, edible flowers, oil, salt, or honey. That spread is meant to be served communally, just as one might a charcuterie board, with slices of bread for dipping and smearing.
This has prompted a few questions across social media: On a scale of 1 to “I want to throw it out,” how much of a chore is washing a wooden board that’s been completely coated in butter? Why not just put the softened, decorated butter in bowls with a knife? And in this public health era, are we feeling hot about dipping into big, communal spreads with people who may be double dippers or anti-hand washers?
Regardless of these legitimate concerns, it may just be boom times for the butter board, with its aesthetic appeal and endless possibilities for riffing. (Free idea: personal-sized butter board, made on an easy-to-clean plate.) The hallmark of a ubiquitous TikTok food trend — feta pasta and dalgona coffee, for example — is a sense of familiarity, paired with a feeling of achievable novelty. Other TikTok creators have been quick to share their own versions, including a butter board with figs and oranges, a radish-topped butter board, a “low carb” butter board, and even a “Middle Eastern ‘butter’ board” that’s actually made with labneh and not butter, because yet again, in the creator quest to hop on a trend, words sometimes lose their meaning.
Anything our hearts desire can be a board. But then there is the most obvious question: Does it need to be?