Posted by: njbrown | January 31, 2011

Butter curls, butter balls, butter rosettes, etc.

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep, for some reason, my mind strayed back forty-some years to the mid-60s when young wives were striving to achieve elegant living.  I don’t remember Julia doing a show on fancy butter, but after my European trip in 1965 when I first saw butter curls with croissants in Paris, pretty butter became a goal.  In following years, I purchased a variety of implements to make butter curls, balls, etc. and significant time before a dinner party would be spent shaping butter, although I don’t remember anyone – with the possible exception of my mother-in-law – commenting on the beautiful butter.  I can remember 5 different butter tools – one hooked (as can be seen in the picture below), one something like a cheese plane, one two-part silver dish that squished out the butter in “petals,” butter paddles (as also seen below), and a piping bag with large star tip to create rosettes.  All of that seems pretty silly in the world of 2011, but it was part of the transition to realizing that every aspect of a meal could be beautiful.

For those who have abundant time, and want to awe their dinner guests with butter, the following directions came from the TLC site: How to Garnish.

To make butter shape garnishes:

Bowl of hot water
Sticks of butter or margarine, chilled
Bowl of ice water


Butter curler (for butter curls)
Butter paddles (for butter balls)
Cutting board
Paring knife
Small bowl
Metal teaspoon
Waxed paper

  1. For butter curls, place butter curler in hot water. Starting at far end of 1 butter stick, pull curler firmly across the top of the butter. Place finished curl in ice water. Repeat for desired amount of curls, dipping curler into hot water before starting each curl.

Pull curler across top of butter.

©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

  1. For butter balls, place butter paddles in ice water until cold. Place 1 butter stick on cutting board; cut into 1/2-inch pieces with paring knife.
  2. Using fingers, shape butter pieces into balls. Chill until firm, if necessary.
  3. Roll each ball between scored paddles

    Roll each ball between scored sides of paddles, moving paddles in small circles in opposite directions.



  1. How very nice to know that there are some who cherish the art. Thank you all for posting. I learned via the paddles pre-WWII when it was important to have it just right as an everyday affair and just was having a moment of remembrance while resting if anyone still knew. How wonderful. There is still hope. Must pass this on to the granddaughters.

  2. Fantastic! I’m throwing my daughters bridal shower “an enchanted tea party” and have been brainstorming various ways to make it enchanted and thought of butter balls from an expensive restaurant last night. Her Maid of Honor lives out of state, so I picked up the shower activity. We’ll have scones, tea sandwiches, cupcakes decorated with hydrangeas, tea, flavored lemonade, and still working on the rest. It’ll be in December.

    • It sounds like it will be lovely! I liked th suggestion to form butter roses etc. using chocolate molds.

      Best wishes –


  3. I’ve been doing fancy butters since the 60’s too. One of my current favorites is to use candy molds and freeze the butter overnight. I pop them out in the morning then put them in a freezer container. This way, I always have butter ready. I put softened butter in a serving dish, then smooth the top, lastly I place the molded butter on top. I do flowers, shells for seafood, and pretzels for German, etc. it’s great fun and always delightful.

    • Great idea and wonderfully easy! Thanks so much!

      Best wishes,

  4. Dear Nancy,
    Thank you for the butter curls/balls info. Yes, many of us want to keep some elegance alive.

    May I make one comment? Your blog should be “Julie, Julia and Me” — that is the correct grammar.It’s as if you’re saying, “Here’s some advice from Julie, Julia and me.” You would NEVER say, “Here’s some advice from Julie, Julia and I.”

    Sorry for being a nit-picker, but as a former English teacher, it almost gives me a physical pain to see and hear almost everyone in the world today using the wrong prepostitions.

    • Hi Sally –

      I, too, wince when people use I instead of me. However, I think because my title means Julia, Julie and I writing about our cooking, my usage is correct.

      Thank you for your input!

      Best wishes,


  5. My office is hosting a swanky Christmas party. Just to be funny, I signed up to bring the mayo and butter and offered to cover the containers with tin foil for proper presentation. I think they’re a little worried. Never the less my search began for a “how to” on beautifying butter.
    Thank you for sharing. To think that butter will be the talk of the party…

    • I’m so glad this was helpful. May you wow them!!!

      Merry Christmas,


  6. My granddaughter has been fascinated for years about butter balls, after having a Christmas Buffet dinner at a swanky restaurant. The place is gone now, and I’m having them here tomorrow. I just googled “How do you make butterballs?” and your site came up. Thank you SO much! She’ll love them!
    Happy Thanksgiving! Jane in Parker, Colorado

    • Hi Jane –

      I am so very happy to have been of help!

      Happy thanksgiving –


      • There is no verb so the pronoun can be in either form.
        Cf. The King and I, Me and my girl.

      • Thank you, Duncan! When I was very young, the book, The Egg and I, was very popular. As you mentioned, it was eventually followed by The King and I. The former teacher who wrote was 50% of my critical comments in four years of blogging. Oh well…

        Best wishes,


  7. Off to get a curling knife! Thanks for this awesome post.

    • Glad to know it was helpful. May you have beautiful curls!


  8. Thanks for reviving a lost art!

    • I’ve been amazed how many people want to learn how to shape butter. When I did the post, I thought no one would ever read it. Who knew?!

      Best wishes,


  9. Fantastic! I have been looking for a way to present butter for my Christmas day starter. I don’t have any of the tools to curl butter and was looking for some alternative. I also didn’t want to just fill little dishes. The piping idea is brilliant! It will finish off the presentation perfectly. Thank you.

    • So glad I could be of help, and that concern about beautiful butter is alive and well.

      Best wishes,


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