Homemade spreads: Keep some in your pantry and give some as holiday gifts

7 Recipes
A spicy avocado spread on crackers and a salad with pomegranate seeds
(Evan Sung / For The Times)

7 delectable spreads for breads and more


Now that you’ve baked at least one of our seven best bread recipes, be sure to enjoy it with something delicious spread on top. Yes, the bread is terrific just by itself or with some European-style, low-moisture butter, but why not elevate that experience a notch or two with a homemade condiment easily made in your own kitchen?

Amp up the fall flavor factor with Ben Mim’s fabulous apple butter. His technique of cooking down the apples in the oven instead of on the stovetop frees you from hours of standing over the pot, furiously stirring while the apples reduce. The apple butter develops a luxurious texture along with the deep apple flavor. Buddha’s hand marmalade, studded with pomegranate arils is colorful and sultry and cooks up much more quickly than apple butter.

Lest you think that fruit spreads are only for slathering on bread or toast, pineapple chutney, with bright notes of lime and a hint of gingery spice is a perfect complement to the cured meats found on charcuterie boards, which are all the rage these days. Tangy citrus marmalade is a splendid accompaniment for grilled pork chops, fish or chicken breasts (and, yes, just as delicious on your morning toast).


If you like to start the day with avocado toast, spicy avocado smash is a cinch to whip up and has a piquant kick to wake your senses for the day ahead. Also on the savory side, Lulu’s tapenade, briny from Greek-style olives, capers and anchovies, is wonderful on a crouton and also on simply prepared fish. Crostini topped with chicken liver pate is a delicious start to a meal — and could easily become your whole dinner.

A few sweet and savory spreads in the pantry allow for quick, tasty snacks, light meals and impromptu entertaining. Even if you are not hosting many visitors due to the pandemic, you can still throw a cocktail party with your housemates and treat yourselves as you would treat company. And (bonus!), packaged in a Mason jar and tied with a ribbon, a homemade spread makes a great holiday gift.

Master Apple Butter

Fragrant apples, pureed until smooth, cook with sugar and lemon juice into a silky-soft fruit butter.
Time5 hours, mostly unattended
YieldsMakes 5 half-pint jars

Spicy Avocado Smash

Brilliant red pomegranate seeds add tangy pops of crunch to this creamy-chunky mix of avocados hot with jalapeños. Serve this dip on pretzel thins or other chips.
Time15 minutes
YieldsServes 12

Lulu's tapenade

Lulu Peyraud, the chef and owner of Domaine Tempier in Bandol, France, serves this briny tapenade spread on little croutons to accompany aperitifs.
Time15 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Citrus Marmalade

Tangy and loaded with candied peel, this marmalade preserves the best of citrus season.
Time2 hours 30 minutes, plus cooling
YieldsMakes 6 (half-pint) jars

Pizzeria Mozza's chicken liver pate

At Pizzeria Mozza, this rustic chicken liver pate is coarsely chopped by hand. The richness of the liver is complemented by notes of garlic, capers and pancetta.
Time1 hour
YieldsMakes 16 crostini

Pineapple Chutney With Mezcal and Vanilla Bean

Mezcal adds an earthy, smoky tinge to tropically sweet pineapple in this chutney perfumed with whole vanilla bean pod.
Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsMakes 2 1/2 cups

Buddha’s Hand Marmalade

Turn Buddha’s hand citrus into a glistening, sweet marmalade flecked with deep-red pomegranate seeds.