simple stuff: a butter dish.

February 24, 2021

Of all the things to send me over the edge, you might not suspect that the greasy waxed paper around a crumb-covered knob of butter would be the thing. Or perhaps you’ve been around here long enough to know that the greasy waxed paper around a crumb-covered knob of butter would be exactly the sort of thing to take a refrigerator situation from mostly tenable to not at all.

Anyway, we have a new butter dish. It’s made of enamelware and wood and I love it.

Before this, we used a French butter keeper, of the sort that has water in the bottom and that keeps butter soft but (mostly) not rancid. The one we had for years developed a deep crack last summer and so James decided to give me the gift of a butter dish upgrade, which was thoughtful indeed but short-lived. The beauty flew off our counter top and smashed to smithereens. (We’ve smashed more household items in the past year than I can count.)

After months of doing penance for daring to have nice things, I’ve decided to flout tradition and indulge during this lenten season. Introducing our enamelware butter dish from the Japanese company, Noda Horo. Though not widely sold in the US, an internet search of Noda Horo enamelware won’t leave you empty-handed (though it might have you scratching your head a bit at the range of price points). I’ll leave you to your own searching, but eBay, where I found mine, seems to have a fairly reliable stockpile, and the very lovely online shop, Plain Goods, also carries the dish in two sizes.

I relied on various user reviews to decide on the larger of the two sizes—the 450 gram butter dish—so I could be sure that when it arrived my case would accommodate American sticks of butter and I wouldn’t be tempted to pass my time shaving butter into perfectly sized sticks. (I’m not discounting this as a route that someone with more fortitude could take; I’m just trying to be honest with myself about my bandwidth for butter whittling in a pandemic, or ever). As it turns out, this larger size fits two standard sticks of American butter side-by-side. If you are devoted to butter from across the pond, no doubt it would also accommodate your Kerrygold or your Isigny Ste.-Mère as well.

The lid, which is made from beautiful cherry wood fits beautifully, though not snugly. A rough translation of the Japanese instructions that came with my case, indicate that the dish is intended to be used as a vessel for the butter while it’s being stored and that the lid, flipped top to bottom, can function as something of a platter for tabletop butter service when you’d like.

I love that it fits perfectly in the butter section of our beat-up old fridge and moves seamlessly from fridge to counter to tabletop. I won’t imagine away the possibility that this might end up dinged by small children, or launched off a countertop, but I think it will fare a bit better than a glass or ceramic butter dish should that come to pass.

Anyway, that’s that: the enamelware butter dish of my dreams. Maybe yours, too.

Other butter dishes:

Tosca Butter Dish: This similar looking dish from Yamazaki Home is ceramic with a wooden top. It looks lovely, though be warned that the reviews I waded through reveal that butter shaping would be required for American butterers.

Glass Butter Dish: For folks who don’t mind looking at their butter, this handblown butter dish is a beauty.

Notary Ceramics Butter Dish: A delightful dome of a butter dish that was briefly ours, but met an untimely death.

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20 Comments

  • Reply Sarah February 24, 2021 at 3:36 pm

    Oh, nice! I think of your old French butter keeper regularly, as you introduced me to the concept. Someday I’ll probably thrift a butter dish. We have one in our set of Christmas dishes from my grandma, but I don’t use it year round. And you’re right – I appreciate having the trash removed from the butter while it’s in the fridge.

    1
  • Reply laura February 24, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    I simply cannot survive without my countertop, perfectly spreadable Kate’s Butter (Maine made) that is smeared on toast every morning. It’s the little things. Our Butter Keeper is from Sawyer Ceramics in case anyone is on the hunt!

  • Reply Jo February 24, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    Mmmm, Isigny St Mere butter. Soooo good!

  • Reply Annie February 24, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    Erin, thank you. Recently smashed a perfect butter dish of my own and have been wanting another but have been foiled by lack of effort-juice and general fancy butter predelictions. You nailed it, as usual. These “tiny” things matter. Here’s to well-buttered toast:)

  • Reply Anna February 24, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    This has been a new happy thing in my life, too! I used to have one of those traditional butter dishes, the kind that held one stick, with a dome over the top of it, and I hated how gross and slimy the edges and top got. So I started keeping butter on a bowl, but didn’t love the look on my shelf. My new dish is very similar to yours, though glass, so hopefully won’t get broken anytime soon! But I love how these little upgrades can brighten my day and make life feel just a tiny bit easier!

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  • Reply alison haberstroh February 24, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    I’ve actually been hunting all over for a new butter dish, so I do appreciate this post. I’ve been so hesitant to purchase this style of dish, as it seems like it will be hard to actually cut a piece of butter from a dish with sides. How to you get the knife in there? I’m so used to the type where the lid comes off, leaving the butter sitting without being walled-in. Thoughts?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 24, 2021 at 7:49 pm

      There’s really plenty of room for the knife, so it hasn’t been a problem! You can also always invert it and use it that way, but I think one thing I really like about this is that the walls are opaque, so if things get a little messy in there, well, you only have to wait until you get through the stick of butter to wash it out and start again!

      1
  • Reply k February 24, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    I’ve been appreciating all of your blogging these days, but this one moved me to comment. This whole pandemic, I’ve been indulging in tiny little homey upgrades. (more cheerful bowls for my rice and beans; boiling the paint off my brass doorknobs and cabinet pulls; felt placemats; new kitchen towels — you get the idea.) It was the phrase “bandwidth for butter whittling” that just sent my heart over the edge and made me smile and sigh knowingly and ultimately compelled me to comment.

    Since I’m here, thank you for your orientation to justice throughout your posts; your refusal to gloss over the pain and messiness; and your attunement to beauty.

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  • Reply Elizabeth February 24, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    “…so I could be sure that when it arrived my case would accommodate American sticks of butter and I wouldn’t be tempted to pass my time shaving butter into perfectly sized sticks. (I’m not discounting this as a route that someone with more fortitude could take; I’m just trying to be honest with myself about my bandwidth for butter whittling in a pandemic, or ever).”

    I love this. I love your writing about small things. Especially kitchen things!

    4
  • Reply Tamara February 25, 2021 at 12:27 am

    Oooh, I love this beauty! Our butter dish is a french style one that I made but it has a chip and also, it was one of the first butter keepers I made so hadn’t refined it much and it’s not my favorite. I keep meaning to make us another one and keep getting sidetracked with other things. But this one might just convince me to choose enamel over ceramic gasp!

  • Reply Kelsey O'Donnell February 25, 2021 at 10:17 am

    Truly a beautiful butter dish.

    Getting a peak o side your fridge makes me want to see more. I am constantly trying to achieve a low-waste, well-organized fridge. Though I have made small steps towards that goal, I’m not there yet. If you have any tips or thoughts, I would love to hear them (That seems like a big ask! The fridge seems so personal!).

    2
  • Reply Ashley Habib February 25, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Butter dishes give me such joy! My mom recently handed down an inexplicable spare crystal butter dish that once belonged to my great grandmother. I love seeing it when I open the fridge.

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  • Reply Lynette February 25, 2021 at 3:36 pm

    I also had a habit of breaking ceramic butter dishes so bought an enamel dish with a wooden lid. Four years later it’s still going strong. Plan on having it for many years to come…

  • Reply Barbara February 26, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Would love to hear if you come across a similar perfect soap dish. It’s been a quest for my local farm’s goat milk soaps!

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  • Reply monica February 26, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    Lovely dish! I like the wood top. Just FYI, we leave butter on the counter so it is always soft. We generally go thru a stick in about a week, but sometime it can be longer, and the butter never goes rancid.I have spent time living in in Europe (Switzerland, Sweden, Scotland) where it is the norm and to leave on the counter. Remember, butter has been around much longer than refrigeration!

    1
    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 26, 2021 at 3:57 pm

      Sure has. We’ve definitely over done it on the butter turning in a very warm August apartment in Brooklyn, but generally agree it lasts very well out of the fridge for long periods of time.

  • Reply Jenna February 26, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    Such an adorable butter dish! I have been keeping my eye out for a cute dish for butter, but I haven’t found a secondhand option yet. Hoping to find something at some point!

  • Reply Rachel March 1, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Love this, but also, where is your table from??

  • Reply Elaine March 14, 2021 at 10:40 am

    I bought this butter dish, the last one. I looked for one less expensive, but made in China? I prefer made in Japan. I was drawn to the smaller one (always like smaller things), but too small for my Miyoko’s vegan butter block. Throughout my life, butter dishes were disasters waiting to happen, but this enameled metal dish will have a long, happy life. My “big” salad bowl is cherry wood, so the butter dish will have a “sister” on the table.

    1
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