What’s a French butter keeper?

If you’ve seen a “beurrier,” butter crock, or “butter bell” before, you might be thinking that keeping your butter stored in water is a weird waste of time but it beats breaking your toast with fridge-cold butter.

We all know how hard it is to spread cold butter, but butter left on the counter usually turns to a yellowy-orange, separated mess by the time you reach the end of the brick.

The French butter keeper can help with that. Since you keep it on the counter, it’s spreadable every time. And the water helps keep your butter fresh. Seriously.


Pictured here is The Original Butter Bell Crock by L. Tremain, but all French butter crocks work the same. From here on I’ll call them “butter bells,” since that’s what most North Americans call them.

There’s two parts to a butter bell: a bell-shaped lid (where the butter goes) and the crock bottom (where the water goes).

The bell shaped lid is flat on the top so you can place it, butter side up, on the table to serve your fresh, softened butter. (I have it angled in the pictures, but only because I wanted to show off how fresh my butter is.)

When you put water in the bottom part, it creates an airtight seal. When the air can’t reach the butter, it keeps bacteria away and the butter stays fresher longer.

Once I started using a butter bell, my butter has never even changed colour while sitting on the counter. It’s always fresh.


I know a lot of people think, “Won’t this make my butter wet?” I you look closely at the picture, you can see one or two water droplets, but it’s mostly dry.

Think back to science class when you played with oil and water. They always stayed separate. It takes a lot of mixing for them to combine.

How to use a butter bell

  1. Bring your butter just to room temperature. (Most hold one stick or 1/2 cup of butter.)
  2. Fill the bell with the softened butter.
  3. Put coldĀ  water into the crock up to the fill line. If your crock doesn’t have a fill line, fill it about 1/3 of the way with water And always do step 4 over the sink.
  4. Put the bell, butter side down, into the crock. To ensure you don’t spill any water, do this step over the sink.
  5. Change the water once a week to keep it fresh.
  6. After using the butter, wash entire butter bell with soap and water (or stick most models into the dishwasher) and repeat.

Do you use unsalted butter?

You can mix some salt in the water to help keep mold away.

Extra tips and tricks

Avoid leaving breadcrumbs on the butter. In addition to being unsightly, they can introduce mold and bacteria to the butter bell.

To prevent your butter from falling into the water, pack it in tightly. Air pockets will cause the butter to fall out of the bell. Using cold water also helps with this.

Butter softening tip

  1. Rinse the bell in hot water to warm it up like you would a teapot.
  2. Cut some pieces of cold butter and put them on a salad plate.
  3. Put the warmed bell over the pieces of butter and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Now the butter is soft enough to pack into the bell!


There’s a few brands of butter keepers that are modeled after the original French butter crock. You can get them in stainless steel, glass and stoneware. The stoneware ones come in a variety of colours and patterns. I’m sure you can find a butter bell that will ring true to your taste.

So, if you’ve bought a bit of butter, keep your butter better in a butter bell crock!

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