Move over butter boards, the butter candle is here!
They add light, ambiance, and, of course, butter to any table, making serving bread, steak, or anything you love to dip in butter a fun and interactive experience. If you love warm butter and fresh bread, or you love butter boards, you’ll love the viral TikTok butter candle trend.
What is a butter candle?
It’s exactly what it sounds like: a candle made of butter. A food safe wick is lit at the table and the butter slowly softens, making the butter melty, dippable, or pourable. Butter candles are typically served with bread, but you can also serve them with anything that you love with butter. For dipping you can go with: seafood, vegetables, or meats. And for pouring, think: mashed potatoes, rice, popcorn – the list goes on and on. Is there anything that doesn’t taste better with butter?
Who invented butter candles?
To be honest, butter candles are a modern take on delightfully retro tallow candles, which are candles made out of beef fat. Tallow candles have existed for ages, since Ancient Rome, in fact. Lately, adventurous restaurants have started serving steak with highly flavorful edible tallow candles. The resulting melty, warm beef fat is poured over steak or served alongside potatoes. Really, it’s not that big of a jump to homemade butter candles for bread. The first version I saw on Tiktok was by Soozie the Foodie who serves hers with bread. The other one I see on repeat is the steak butter candle by SAMO. These two Tiktoks are perfect examples of the two different ways you can make butter candles.
How to make a butter candle
There are two ways to make a butter candle: hand shaping and pouring. Both work well, but hand shaping is a bit more rustic looking and if you don’t have food safe gloves, I recommend going the pouring route.
To hand pour a butter candle
This is definitely the easiest way to make a butter candle. Melt the butter, make a wick out of food safe twine, pour the butter in a container, and wait for it to set. That’s it!
- Melt the butter. You can do this in a small pot over low heat on the stove, or in 20 second increments in the microwave, stirring every time you reset the microwave.
- Make the wick. Cut a piece of food safe string and dip it into the melted butter to create a food safe wick.
- Set the wick in the mold. Tie the buttered string around a stick or chopstick and place the stick over the top of your butter candle mold, making sure the string touches the bottom of the mold.
- Pour in the butter. Pour the melted butter into the mold, making sure the wick is in the centre of the candle.
- Let the candle set. Place the butter candle in the fridge until it’s nice and firm, at least 1 hour minimum.
- Light your butter candle on fire and enjoy. When it’s time to enjoy, remove the stick and trim the wick so it’s about 1/4 – 1/2 inch above the candle. Use a match or lighter to light the wick and let the butter melt. Enjoy the melted butter by dipping or pouring!
To hand shape a butter candle
Start with slightly soft spreadable butter. Ideally, take your butter out of the fridge and let it sit a room temp, for 20 minutes. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and place your stick of butter in the middle. Use your hands or a rolling pin to lightly flatten the butter and place a piece of kitchen string in the middle for a wick. Use the plastic wrap to roll and shape the butter into a candle. Place in the fridge to set.
Butter candle wicks
It doesn’t matter if you hand shape or pour, either way, you’ll need a food safe wick. My suggestion is 100% cotton food safe twine, the kind that you tie up roasts and chicken with. You can find it near the meat section in the grocery store or you can order it online. Because it’s food safe, it will be safe when you light your candle. All you need to do to make your food twine into a wick is dip it in melted butter so it holds a flame better.
Butter candle molds
You can go store bought or homemade here. Your mold really depends on if you want to have a free standing (de-molded) candle or a candle in a container. Generally, you want a free standing or shallow candle for dipping and a container candle for pouring.
Dippable butter candle mold
Depending on if you want to un-mold your candle or not, you’ll want either a disposable or reusable mold. If you’re going to un-mold your candle, you can use a paper cup that you can cut and then peel away from the butter. You can even make a cardboard tube, line it with parchment paper and tape on a bottom. If you’re going for a dippable candle that you’re going to leave in the mold, go for a shallow container that you already have at home like a ramekin or small dish. This butter crock would work amazingly for a dipping butter candle.
Pourable butter candle mold
These can be anything small with a spout. We use a tiny cream pitcher, which worked really well and is incredibly cute. Anything small and pourable is useable. Small cream pitchers or espresso pourers are great and there are so many out there. These mini glass espresso pouring cups with wooden handles are super cute.
Salted or unsalted butter
Most people will tell you to go with salted butter because that’s what you serve with bread, but unsalted works too, just serve your candle along with some flaky sea salt. Really, use whatever butter you love.
What to serve with butter candles
Really you can serve anything. If you’re going for a starter, a nice selection of crusty breads works well. On the other hand, if you want to serve up a butter candle at breakfast or brunch, pancakes, waffles, or freshly baked muffins come to mind. If you’re serving it with dinner, melted butter tastes amazing on rice, noodles, vegetables, seafoods, and meats. Classic is a herbed butter with steak frites, you can’t go wrong with that!
Butter candle flavors
Any compound butter (flavored butter), can be a butter candle. To make, simply stir the ingredients into the melted butter.
- garlic butter: 1/2 cup butter plus 4 cloves finitely minced garlic or 4 cloves roasted garlic
- herbed butter: 1/2 cup butter plus 2 tbsp freshly chopped herbs of choice such as mint, cilantro, green onions, rosemary, thyme, flat leaf parsley, sage, basil, dill, tarragon, chives
- jalapeño butter: 1/2 cup butter plus 2 tbsp finely chopped jalapeño
- paprika butter: 1/2 cup butter plus 1 tsp smoked paprika and 1 tbsp fresh parsley
- shallot butter: 1/2 cup butter plus 2 tbsp finely chopped shallots, 2 cloves finely minced garlic, 2 tsp finely minced parsley
- red wine butter: 1/2 cup butter, 2 tbsp red wine, 1 tbsp finely chopped shallots, 2 tsp finely chopped parsley, 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
- lemon butter: 1/2 cup butter, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp fresh lemon zest, 2 tsp finely chopped parsley
- Make sure your butter candle is solid before lighting it up, otherwise you’ll just have a butter pool as opposed to a candle.
- If you’re un-molding your candle, place the candle in a shallow dish with a lip so that as it melts, it doesn’t overflow and cause a butter spill.
- Start small! Yes, you can make a butter candle with 1 pound of butter, but that’s excessive, even in this day and age. All you really need is one stick of butter (which is a 1/2 cup).
- Super smooth butter candles. If you’re a purist and want a very clean burning, pretty candle, be sure to clarify and strain your butter. Because butter has water content and milk solids, a non-clarified butter candle will sputter a little due to the milk solids. This is definitely an optional step thought and I don’t think it’s necessary.
Have fun! There’s nothing more delicious that really good butter and really good bread. There’s a reason why bread and butter is classic. For me, there’s no perfect starter. Some of you might be wondering why or shaking your head at the ridiculousness of this, but it’s 2022 going into 2023 and this is our lives now. I am here for it all the way! Butter candles are festive and they make a delicious, talking point center piece. What’s not to love?
Happy butter candle-ing!
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 baguette sliced, to serve, optional
Food Safe Kitchen Twine
How to Make a Butter Candle
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 14.6g91%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.