The concept has inarguably gone viral, resulting in 248.5 million hashtags and nearly as many one-offs on TikTok as of October 13. Both influencers, recipe developers, and celebrities have taken creative liberty with the idea, swapping out thick swooshes of butter for cream cheese, peanut butter, and other spreadable dips that can be scooped up with warm pita, crudites, and sliced bread. Even Chef K, private chef to Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, created a vegan rendition as requested by the couple.
Whether you’re skeptical about the sanitary reality of a communal dip or totally on board with the concept, here are seven vegan butter boards to try the trend yourself.
What is a butter board?
While the virtual food community didn’t happen upon the butter board en masse until TikToker Justine Doiron (@Justine_Snacks) posted her creation on September 15, the truly novel idea is credited to chef Josh McFadden. His James Beard Award-winning cookbook, Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, includes a loose recipe for a communal appetizer that features a base of softened butter schmeared artistically onto a board then topped with flaky sea salt, fresh herbs, and other garnishes of choice. Doiron attributes her original video to McFadden and tops her first board with salt, fresh coriander, honey, and edible flowers, swooping it all up with a thick slice of chewy, fluffy wheat bread.
Now with over one million likes, 6,000 comments, and 124,000 shares, Doiron’s butter board has seen countless iterations. Most stay true to the butter base, but others have run wild with the concept, creating peanut butter boards, Nutella boards, cream cheese boards, and more. It’s an edible idea that lends itself to infinite creativity and dietary preference—it’s no wonder it continues to trend.
Butter board controversy
The blatant controversy over scooping up mounds of butter spread over a porous wood surface is potentially what’s keeping this trend in conversation. While communal snacking has resurrected following the global pandemic, it’s one thing to pick off a cheese board and another to scoop butter off a shared board using a piece of bread one may or may not have bitten into. The double dipping faux pas is only encouraged by participating in a butter board.
Also on the safety front, wooden cutting boards are the most popular choice for serving this appetizer. When spread onto a wooden surface, butter can get lodged into the minuscule nooks and crannies, making it nearly impossible to thoroughly clean. The trapped schmear or other food particles can create an environment where bacteria can grow.
On the nutrition front, many have balked at the sheer amount of butter one could consume when partaking. Videos glorifying generous scoops of butter—easily a few tablespoons—and multiple dips could cause one to ingest a very unhealthy amount of butter (even if it’s vegan).
These arguments are valid, but there are ways to safely enjoy a butter board without putting yourself or your guests at risk. The first is to only share a butter board with individuals you trust. This isn’t something you would serve at a large party—it’s an intimate experience best enjoyed within a small group.
To take action against double-dipping, place spoons or knives alongside the board and encourage your guests to serve themselves with these utensils instead of running their dipping elements through the spread. Finally, use an enameled or ceramic serving board and clean it thoroughly after use.
Types of vegan butter boards
We said it in our 2020 book, The VegNews Guide to Being a Fabulous Vegan: there is a vegan version of everything. That includes butter. So, regardless of what butter board video happens to pop up on your discover page, you can create a vegan version of it. Here are just a few of the butter board spin-offs we’ve noticed picking up steam.
1 The classic butter board
We’re not sure if you can call something classic if it’s only been in the public eye for less than six months, but think of this as the original. You’ll need your favorite vegan butter, softened, flaky sea salt, a pop of color, and virtually anything you would like to scoop up with a slice of bread. Think about fresh herbs, edible flowers, red pepper flakes, watermelon radishes, figs, and even a drizzle of vegan honey or maple syrup.
Try it at home: It’s a different take on the original, but a board of vegan butter, salt, slivered jalapeños, vegan honey, and cornbread slices sounds like a dream.
2 The hummus board
Perhaps the healthiest of all butter board variations, the hummus board is equally infinite in its variations and satisfying in its consumption. Some of the simplest versions are minimally adorned with flaky sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, fresh herbs, and olive oil while others look like a colossal open-faced pita. Pro tip: for those who love to graze, this is the one butter board variation you could actually create a meal-for-one out of.
Try it at home: Spoon and swoop your favorite flavor of hummus onto a board. Top with flaky sea salt, freshly cracked blacked pepper, kalamata olives (without the pit), cucumber slices, a dash of smoked paprika, red onion, and crispy seasoned chickpeas. Serve with piping-hot, fluffy pita triangles or pita chips.
3 The cream cheese board
Kite Hill quickly adopted this trend and applied it using its nut-based cream cheese. The brand topped its undulating waves of cream cheese with capers, thinly sliced red onions, fresh dill, cucumber, and avocado. The entire thing was scooped up with a bagel, the obvious choice for this style of butter board. This variation can lean sweet or savory, depending on the cream cheese you use. From strawberry to lox, the possibilities keep us up at night.
Try it at home: Spread a board with plain cream cheese and top with sliced red onion, vegan lox (or tomato slices), fresh dill, and everything bagel seasoning. Serve with everything, poppy, or salt bagels.
4 The dessert butter board
From peanut butter to dulce de leche, TikTok users have come up with a dizzying amount of takes on the sweet side of butter boards. Anything that spreads and can stand up to room temperature is fair game: cookie butter, vegan chocolate hazelnut spread, nut butter, dessert hummus … let your inner child run wild. Toppings are even more infinite, though we highly recommend keeping the flaky sea salt to balance out the sweetness. Options include brownie bites or cookie dough, fresh fruit, dollops of jam, chocolate or caramels sauce, or sliced vegan brioche.
Try it at home: It’s peanut butter and jelly time. Swipe smooth peanut butter over your board (ceramic is a must to prevent sticking) and artfully top with vegan coconut bacon, banana chips, chocolate chips, fresh raspberries, and vegan honey. Serve with apple slices and hard pretzels.
7 vegan butter board recipe ideas
Need more guidance on how to create your own spectacular vegan butter board? Rely on the seven recipes below to impress at your next gathering.
1 The Herby Butter Board
A medley of floral, fresh herbs, tart apricot jam, and a sprinkle of chili flakes make for a board that hits every flavor note. It’s sweet, salty, spicy, and even a little nutty thanks to the slivered almonds. This combination is the perfect thing to rev up anyone’s appetite at a dinner party.
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2 Roasted Tomato Butter Board
Take advantage of tomato season with this well-balanced board. Roasted cherry tomatoes take center stage, accompanied by spicy, minced red jalapeños, crunchy flaky sea salt, bright lemon zest, and a drizzle of sweet vegan honey. The result is deliciously greater than the sum of its simple parts.
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3 Vegan Buttercream Board
For the sweet tooths that go unsatiated, we bring you the buttercream board. This Willy Wonka-esque display features chocolate and vanilla buttercream topped with chocolate syrup, vegan white chocolate chips, and strawberries. Indulge even further by serving with chocolate cookies and graham crackers.
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4 Butternut Squash Board
Combine the flavors of fall with this brilliant concept. TikToker Eleni Katalanos blends roasted butternut squash with Flora butter to create a spread that just slightly sweet and considerably lighter than straight butter. She tops the orange swooshes with flaky sea salt, coarse black pepper, toasted pecans, fresh rosemary sprigs, and pepitas. Scoop up generously with crusty bread. If you’re having an intimate Friendsgiving or smaller Thanksgiving gathering, this would be a perfect appetizer.
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5 Roasted Garlic Butter Board
Not only do you have to be fairly comfortable with the people you share a butter board with, you also have to be understanding enough to dismiss the garlic essence seeping out of their pores after devouring this fragrant board. The board starts with Country Crock’s olive oil vegan butter sticks. Whole pieces of garlic butter-roasted garlic are plopped down onto the butter base, followed by pepitas, flaky sea salt, fresh thyme and sage, and another drizzle of garlic butter.
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6 Mediterranean Butter Board
This board was made for hot fluffy pita bread. Take a vegan butter base and let it rain with fresh lemon zest, fresh thyme, and edible rose petals. Drizzle with simple syrup and pomegranate molasses. This is the perfect dessert for those who enjoy a savory end to a meal.
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7 Chocolate Cashew Butter Board
Firmly in the dessert category, this chocolate cashew butter board is sweet without being too over the top. Schmear your favorite chocolate cashew butter (or chocolate hazelnut butter) onto a board and use it as a canvas for shredded sweetened coconut, pistachios, vegan chocolate chips, and date pieces. Arrange green apple slices, crackers, and cinnamon raisin bread around your masterpiece for dippers that balance out the sweetness of the board.
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8 Vegan Cream Cheese Board
Whole Foods tried its hand at a vegan butter board spinoff using Miyoko’s cream cheese. The savory swirls were topped with non-dairy parmesan shreds, preserved red peppers, pecans, fresh herbs, and vegan honey. Scoop it up with toasted bagel pieces.
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