'Vodka Butter' Is TikTok's Favorite Creamy Appetizer Pairing, But Why?

If there's anything TikTok has taught us, it's that there's always a way to make butter better than it already is. Sure you can just unwrap a stick or use it straight from the tub, but what's the fun in that? Across the app, you'll find videos of people making butter boards, or charcuterie boards that consist only of butter with different toppings. "Cowboy butter," which is butter mixed with basically any ingredient that pairs well with steak, is also trending (via TikTok). Even butter candles are a thing, turning dipping bread in melted butter into a whole new experience.

Unconventional though these trends may be, there's no denying that the actual flavor of the butter isn't out of the ordinary. After all, cowboy butter and butter boards are essentially compound butter in different forms, and a butter candle will ultimately taste no different from butter melted in the microwave. As for TikTok's latest butter recipe? Well, judging by the comments on the video, it has its own unique flavor.

What is vodka butter?

Originally shared to TikTok by creator Carolina Gelen, vodka butter is exactly what it sounds like — vodka mixed with butter. In the now-viral video, Gelen demonstrates how she takes two sticks of butter, tosses them in a food processor, and blends them with a generous splash of vodka. The result is an ultra-creamy butter she claims can be turned into "the perfect appetizer for New Year's Eve or any other day."

To make this boozy dish, Gelen spreads vodka butter on bread that has been sliced and lightly toasted, then tops it with anchovies as well as lemon zest, and black pepper (if you use your vodka butter in the way Gelen suggested, just make sure to use unsalted butter as she specified, since anchovies are salty). Commenters also suggested salo, a Russian bacon, with spring onion, and according to the TikToker's blog post, you can also make the appetizer vegetarian by substituting the anchovies for grilled mushrooms or artichokes or even making it sweet with jam or marmalade.

What happens when you add vodka to butter?

Carolina Gelen wasn't the first to flavor butter with alcohol (per YouTube), in fact in French cooking, it's common to add red wine to butter along with aromatics like parsley, thyme, and bay leaves, and use it when cooking steak (via The French Cooking Academy). Vodka, much like red wine, also has plenty of cooking applications, so adding it to butter isn't as strange as you may have initially thought.

The reason alcohol goes so well with savory dishes, according to J. Kenji Lopez Alt, is that the alcohol molecule is similar to the sugar molecule. This chemical similarity means that alcohol can act as a flavor and aroma enhancer to whatever it's added to. Butter flavored with vodka therefore not only has a natural kick, but also an improved taste, a fact that's backed by science. And if you already like penne alla vodka or are willing to cook with red wine butter, there's a good chance you'll enjoy vodka butter too.