Sourdough with Cultured Butter and Spicy Sardines

A toothsome starter from Nashville’s Spread Market & Larder

Photo: Molly Peach

This recipe from Spread Market & Larder in Nashville features cultured butter, which co-owner Chad Kelly dubs “the sourdough of butter” due to its tangy, complex flavor profile. Spread makes their cultured butter (and nearly all of their menu items) in-house, and it can easily be recreated by home cooks. “People can be intimidated by sardines,” Alex, Kelly’s wife and business partner, notes. To combat this, she recommends a skinless, boneless variety of the fish. She also encourages using a spicy version: “The spiciness cuts the fishy taste.”

photo: Molly Peach
An eye-catching tinned fish selection at Nashville’s Spread Market & Larder.


  • Sourdough with Cultured Butter and Spicy Sardines (Yield: 2 servings; butter yield is 20 servings)

    • 1 qt. heavy cream

    • ¼ cup cultured buttermilk (use yogurt with live cultures if you can’t find cultured buttermilk)

    • ¼ cup water

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • 2 large slices of sourdough bread

    • Spicy sardines, such as Fishwife or Sardinha, to serve


  1. Lightly whisk heavy cream and buttermilk together in a glass bowl until combined. Let it sit at room temperature, covered with a lid or plastic wrap, until the mixture becomes slightly thickened (36–48 hours). Refrigerate the thickened mixture overnight. 

  2. Once thoroughly chilled, whip the mixture with an electric mixer using the whisk attachment on medium speed until it turns into whipped cream. This may take several minutes, but don’t overbeat. Once the mixture resembles whipped cream, switch to the paddle attachment and stir on low speed under the butter separates from the buttermilk. This might get messy!



  3. Continuously stop the mixer to pour off the buttermilk as it separates from the butter (don’t forget to save a little for your next batch of butter). Once the butter stops putting off liquid, pour in the water and mix for 30 seconds to clean your butter. Pour off the water and pat the butter clean with a paper towel. Whip in the salt. 

  4. The butter can be stored up to three weeks in the fridge.

  5. Assemble and serve: Spread butter on your favorite sourdough before adding some spicy sardines on top.