“Butter boards” are all the rage on TikTok. Ick.
The trend is straightforward: Take a cutting board. Smear a bunch of butter on it. Put some other stuff on there. Serve it to your guests.
Like most “hey, try this!” ideas on TikTok, it’s probably not a great one.
In case this trend has not yet surfaced in your algorithm, here’s the gist: Let butter come to room temperature and artfully smear it onto a flat surface. Scatter with, well, whatever — fresh herbs, chile flakes, flaky salt, sure. Maybe some figs or teeny-tiny mushrooms. Perhaps some flower petals that you’ll excitedly tell your guests are edible. They will smile and say, “Oh! Isn’t that interesting!” before discreetly navigating around them.
Eating butter that has melted into the scars on your nasty cutting board? Gross. Spreading out a meltable food so that maximum surface area can be breathed on by partygoers? Also gross. Did we learn nothing from the pandemic?
Butter deserves better.
I love parties. And I love butter. If you want to make a lovely display of finger foods for your guests, you have many options with minimal opportunities to contract food poisoning or your neighbor’s kid’s daycare cough. If you want to serve butter, a butter dish or butter bell is elegant and practical (and if you’re going to someone else’s party, they make great host gifts). Did you know that you can have a butter bell in your home and have perfectly spreadable butter available for you to use at any time of day or night?
If you must butter a board, don’t use one that you use to prep ingredients. Both plastic and wood cutting boards get scarred by your knives. Bacteria nestle into those grooves, just waiting for a nice room-temperature medium (like butter?) to come along so they can catch a ride back to the surface.
Also, set out butter knives or other implements so your guests aren’t rubbing hand-torn, potentially even pre-bitten bread into what is already a troubling potential disease vector. Justine Doiron, whom the New York Times credits with posting the original butter board video, says not including a spreading implement was her “biggest mistake.” (Because, beware of double dippers.)
Before they were on TikTok, butter boards had been credited to the cookbook “Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables” by Joshua McFadden. In that regard, it joins sushi and beef tartare in the pantheon of foods I would cheerfully eat if prepared by a professional chef but studiously avoid at a housewarming party.
Again: Butter? Good. Great, even. Parties? Fantastic. A pool of rapidly melting butter smeared on the cute decorative cutting board that you used to slice up a block of Unexpected Cheddar before your guests arrived: Bad.
I’m not aware of any reports of food poisoning or other illnesses related to butter boards just yet. But do you really want to be the first?
Besides, it hit everyone’s For You page on TikTok two weeks ago. It’s already not cool anymore. Your great-aunt just posted about hers on Facebook. Sorry.