TIME Food & Drink

The 12 Best Things Ever Made With Butter

The crème de la crème

This week, butter is on the cover of TIME, touting a story that suggests the dairy product may not be as bad for people as science has previously suggested. While this is not the first time a condiment has made the TIME cover–see “Salt: A New Villain?” from 1982, which showed miniature ketchup and soy sauce bottles tumbling out of a salt shaker–it is a milestone for churned cream.

Inspired by this moment, NewsFeed here rounds up the best of butter, from elaborate state fair displays to a popular breakfast food at the local bakery.

  • The Last Supper

    Layne Kennedy / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

    This buttery recreation of Leonardo DaVinci’s “The Last Supper” in 1999 was the most ambitious work by renowned butter sculptor Norma Lyon (1929-2011). Nicknamed “The Butter Cow Lady” of the Iowa State Fair, she crafted butter sculptures of celebrities like Elvis Presley and Grant Wood’s American Gothic and was so influential that Barack Obama got her to record a radio ad endorsing him for President in 2007.

  • John Wayne

    Mary Chind / Des Moines Register / AP

    And here she is standing next to her sculpture of John Wayne in Des Moines, Iowa, on August 15, 2001.


  • Cow

    Tom Williams /Roll Call / Getty Images

    Made with more than 600 pounds of butter, this cow commemorates the 100th anniversary of the butter cow’s presence at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Aug. 16, 2011.

  • Deep-Fried Butter on a Stick

    Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

    Fair-goers couldn’t eat that butter cow, but they could eat butter on a stick. The artery-clogging treat is generally made by putting half a stick of frozen butter on a wooden stick, which is then dunked in cinnamon-honey batter and submerged in bubbling oil. Once brown, a sugar glaze is drizzled over the treat.

  • 1,000-Pound Tribute to a Milkshake

    Sonya Paclob / York Daily Record / AP

    Pennsylvania Farm Show is known for its 1,000-pound butter sculptures. The 2014 display honors milkshakes, with cows dancing under a banner that says “still shakin’.”

  • Cows and Skunks

    Seth Perlman / AP

    For more than 20 years, New York sculptor Sharon BuMann has been making butter sculptures — even ones depicting the Blues Brothers and Darth Vader. This pastoral scene, which she made with 800 pounds of unsalted butter for the 2008 State Fair in Springfield, Illinois, features a butter cow and calf peering at butter skunks, all surrounded by a butter bird, butter snakes, a butter log, and a butter tree.


  • Rob Ford Reading Margaret Atwood

    Rene Johnston / Toronto Star / Getty Images

    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laughs in front of a sculpture of himself reading Margaret Atwood made from 500 pounds of butter at the Canadian National Exhibition on August 30, 2012. Created by Toronto sculptor Olenka Kleban, the piece alludes to a disagreement over proposed library cuts between the acclaimed Canadian writer and Rob Ford’s brother Doug, a city councillor.

  • Butter Lambs

    Making butter sculptures of lambs for Easter is a Polish tradition, and in Buffalo, New York, an elected official pardons a butter lamb. Here, Valerie Lapinski shows you how to make your own.

  • The Croissant

    Getty Images

    In the 1680s, pastry chefs in either Budapest or Vienna created this irresistible buttery pastry “to celebrate the defeat of the Turks,” according to an origins tale rooted in legend and Larousse Gastronimique, The New York Times reports. Some argue the shape is modeled after the crescent in the Ottoman flag.

  • The World’s Largest Fruitcake

    Guinness World Records

    Made with 1,100 pounds of butter and topped with strawberries, tangerines, peaches and ananas, the world’s largest fruitcake won The Guinness World Record on May 24, 2014. It was created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Serengeti Park, a zoo in Hodenhagen, Germany.

  • 10-ft-tall Merlion (Half Lion, Half Fish)

    Muzammil Pasha / Reuters

    Chefs used 220 pounds of butter to fashion this 10-foot-tall Choux pastry sculpture of a Merlion — a mythical creature with a lion’s head and a fish’s body — at the Singapore food festival on June 27, 1998. The Merlion is believed to be a symbol of the country and its origins as a fishing village.

  • Tibetan Yak Butter Sculptures

    Adrian Bradshaw / EPA

    Yak butter sculptures dyed with minerals are traditionally made for Tibetan New Year and other religious celebrations like the Butter Festival at Kumbum in eastern Tibet. This Feb. 4, 2004, photo shows a lama monk finishing up a butter sculpture of legendary Tibetan King Tsongtsan (Songtsen) Gampo in the western Chinese province of Qinghai, which has an ethnic Tibetan area.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team