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Bone Marrow Butter

Bone marrow butter on pasta with bacon, parmesan, and milkweed pods

I love the deeply meaty flavour of bone marrow. It tastes to me like that connection of grass, butter, and animal smells that fill the kitchen when a really nice steak hits a cast iron pan. It’s a bit of a production to clean, roast, and serve bone marrow, though. A special spoon is sometimes used–no one buys these except restaurants and gift givers–and the most popular presentation usually has bone marrow stand on its own with just bread, salt, and parsley as complements.

Sometimes this ritual is what’s called for but bone marrow has such a luxuriously beefy flavour that it seems a shame to not use it more often. Of course there is always Bordelaise but the thought of making a demi-glace before even beginning the red wine reduction or poaching the bone marrow is enough to discourage all but the most well-equipped restaurant chefs. I can’t think of a preparation better suited to spread great flavour over several weeks than compound butter.

This recipe combines a healthy dose of the traditional parsley with bone marrow and adds the mild allium bite of shallots. I like this combination but I don’t see any reason why adding (or substituting) thyme, sage, or rosemary wouldn’t also work.

The obvious use for bone marrow butter is to let a generous coin of it melt over a hot steak. I really enjoyed it with toasted bread crumbs, grated parmesan, pickled milkweed pods (from Forbes and they’re a sort Ontario answer to the caper) and sauteed bacon on pasta. Spread on toast it would be an excellent start (middle or end) to the eating day.

Update: This post was originally published on March 16, 2011. I’ve updated, edited and added new photos to it since then.

Bone Marrow Butter

A fairly simple, long-storing recipe for a compound butter that adds the richness and savour of bone marrow to any dish.

Prep time: 15 minutes Total time: 15 minutes

Yield: a bit more than one cup, close to 300 ml

  • 165 g beef or veal bone marrow, cooked and removed from bones (yield from six 3-inch pieces
  • half a bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • half a shallot, quartered
  • 100 g butter
  • three-finger pinch kosher salt
  • Place the marrow bone in a pan and cover it with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the temperature to medium-low and simmer for ten minutes. Allow to cool briefly before using a paring knife and the handle of a wooden spoon to pop the marrow out of the bone. Alternately, just make a double batch of my roast bone marrow recipe and use the leftovers for this one. Everything but the bones and the gristliest of meat stuck to them go into the food processor. Especially whatever is brown, crispy, and fatty. Obviously, the parsley salad for that recipe could stand in for the parsley and shallot here.
  • You want the butter to be softer than it would be in the refrigerator but balance that against how long you’re willing to wait for the marrow to cool to a point where it won’t melt the butter. A good compromise would probably be to take the butter out of the fridge when the bone come out of the pan and wait about forty-five minutes. Ultimately, it’s a lot easier to work with bone marrow that has cooled completely.
  • Pulse the butter in the food processor for a couple seconds. Put the parsley (torn from the thickest stems) and roughly chopped shallot in the bowl. Buzz it for five seconds until roughly minced. Add the bone marrow.
  • When all the butter has been combined and smoothly integrated (you may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl) transfer the marrow butter to wax paper. Wrap tightly in a log shape and store in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for longer.

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  1. Nadine says:

    How interesting. I never thought of using just the bone marrow, for the marrow that is. We love bone marrow, of any meat, especially veal. We literally fight over it after an osso bucco meal. I will try this. Thanks.

  2. [...] Bone marrow butter – when you want the flavour of beef and herbs and butter all rolled into one. [Food With Legs] [...]

  3. Jen says:

    Now I wish I didnt give the marrow bones I just bought at SLM to my dogs!

  4. anita says:

    What do you suggest serving this on? I’ve never had marrow and think this might help me ease into eating it.

  5. foodwithlegs says:

    Thanks for commenting, Anita. You’re right that if it’s the idea of eating directly from a bone that has kept you from bone marrow, this will do the trick.

    Other than on pasta, toasted baguette, or pasta I’d say this would work well on scrambled eggs or on one of those other great carriers of flavours like blini. Maybe even go on step further and try it on sweet potato waffles.

  6. anita says:

    Thanks for the reply! I’m going to try this for my Open House party (I love throwing in some off beat items to my parties.) How many days in advance do you think I could make it?

  7. [...] to make it yet, but I am going to make it sort of like this but I will leave out the parsley. Bone Marrow Butter | Food With Legs And honey butter, as dr. bork mentioned – too good for words. Using low lectin/nightshade free [...]

  8. lisa says:

    I am looking forward to trying the bone marrow recipe, thanks! Please add me to your newsletter.

  9. Lauren says:

    This may be a silly question, but can one substitute pork marrow?

  10. David Ort says:

    Very interesting question, Lauren. Not at all silly.

    My short answer is that I’ve never tried. If you have a good source of pork bone marrow, give it a shot. On one hand I bet it will behave differently from beef because marrow has a bunch of fat and pork and beef fat are quite different. On the other hand, people use pork fat in the form of lard all the time for butter-like functions in baking so it might work quite well. Let me know!

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