#ExcuseMeWhatIsThis: The French Butter Bell

The second in our series #ExcuseMeWhatIsThis, in which we demystify some of the most asked-about items in the shop. Consider yourself decor-educated! 


There’s a clinking sound, instantly recognizable, that we often hear coming from the back of the shop, which sounds like two coffee mugs gently tapping one another. Inevitably we look up and see someone looking quizzically at the bell-shaped vessel in their hand, and at the little crock from which it has emerged. And then the question: “Um, what’s this for?”

French butter bell

Others pick it up and coo: “I first saw one of these at my grandmother’s!” Or “Oh, aren’t these amazing?” Because if you know, you know: it’s a French butter bell, and once you’ve had one, you’ll never go back to a regular butter dish again.

Put simply, a butter bell allows you to keep butter fresh at room temperature for up to a week. No more jabbing at a cold hard block right out of the fridge, or tearing up your toast or waffle with a stubborn pat. Soft, fluffy butter all. The. Time. It will change your life.

To use one, let your butter soften on the counter for 10-15 minutes, then unwrap it and use a butter knife to pack it into the bell portion attached to the lid, smoothing the surface when done. (You should be able fit an entire stick in an empty bell.)

French butter keeper

Next, add about 1/2 inch of fresh, cold water to the other piece, the crock. Invert the filled bell into the crock so that the water surrounds and makes contact with the butter, sealing out air.

Stored this way, butter stays fresh and usable for at least a week. We recommend refreshing the water every few days, or whenever you add a fresh stick.

Once you’ve made the switch to a butter bell, you’ll notice you can taste the difference between a great butter and an inexpensive one, and it’s worth it to splurge on quality. (Our current favorite is Kate’s Butter from Maine.) Your toast, pancakes and dinner rolls will thank you.

Bon appetit!