16 Handy Ways To Repurpose An Old Butter Dish To Use Around Your House

Old butter dishes can often be spotted lingering on the shelves of thrift stores, antique venues, and flea markets. Among other vintage dishware, they're typically overlooked by everyone but ardent collectors. With many homeowners keeping their butter in fridge containers or drawers, this countertop staple is less fashionable these days, but that doesn't mean it can't be put to use and repurposed in clever ways in your home, where its beauty can often be both a charming decorative and functional addition to any room.

The internet is abundant with cool ideas for using these little dishes outside the kitchen, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as an endless array of materials including antique fine china, sterling silver, Depression glass, Pyrex, and melamine. You can easily find a use for any variety by thinking creatively about the storage possibilities for the dish at hand, many of which are in great condition. 

1. Bar garnish holder

Since they have a cover, old butter dishes can be turned into a serving plate that holds garnishes and fresh fruit. Just cut up some lime wedges, cherries, olives, or orange slices and store them in the butter dish. This is excellent for an outdoor bar because it can keep insects away, and the fruit won't dry out as fast when covered. While this reuse works well with covered dishes, you can also use butter crocks with lids to keep garnishes fresh and close at hand.

2. DIY sculpture dish

While this DIY technically uses a butter dish for its original role, it does so with a little extra creative flair by using some Sculpey clay. Great accents to add include animals, flowers, and scroll designs to make the dish more sculptural. Use it as a butter dish or keep it elsewhere to house things like jewelry or soap. If you add clay, keep in mind some varieties of clay are not dishwasher or water safe, so treat it with care. 

3. Candle container

A great reuse for deep butter dishes is to make them into adorable vintage candles. Clean out the inside of the dish thoroughly, then add a wick to the bottom and pour candle wax inside. Make sure to add your favorite scented oil or old spices to the candle wax when mixing. These handmade candles are great for anywhere in the home, but look especially intentional when arranged as part of a table centerpiece. The lid is also a great way to keep the candle dust-free when not in use and help the scent last longer.

4. Bud vase trio

Old butter dishes can be great containers for small bud vases. Use a trio of small vases inside a deep butter dish for a cute assemblage that is perfect for a shelf or mantel. Vintage crystal salt and pepper shakers make excellent small vases, as do standard-sized empty spice jars. They are just the right size for holding individual blooms or cuttings. A similar grouping of small containers can also be great for other uses, including holding pens or brushes in a workspace or holding incense sticks on a bedside table.

5. Decorative sign

You can turn a vintage dish of any size into a cute piece of word art by using Waterslide transfer paper or by hand-painting a design. The lower half of covered dishes, in particular, are perfect for adding lettering or art with your favorite quotes or phrases due to their rectangular shape. For a fun alternative to place cards, write the names of your guests on tiny vintage butter pat plates using a Sharpie. Heat them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven to set the ink for a fun keepsake from a special dinner. 

6. Glass mushroom

If you have the top but not the bottom of a circular butter dish, consider turning it into an adorable mushroom for your front yard. Just add some glue to the base of a glass vase or jar, then affix the bell of the butter dish over the top and wait for it to dry. You can leave it as-is for a pretty vintage glassware look or paint it with acrylic and seal it for durability. It also makes for an adorable centerpiece. Use a grouping of several on a table or mantel to add a whimsical touch.

7. Decorated plastic container

Plastic butter containers are typically relegated to temporary fridge storage of leftovers but often wind up in a landfill eventually. A great way to keep them in permanent use is to use them as part of your storage strategy. Add elements like fabric, buttons, twine, or popsicle sticks to the outside of a basic plastic butter container, then fill it with small bottles and items like nail polish or scents. They are also great for a nursery or kid's room since they are less breakable than porcelain and glass storage containers.

8. Hair accessory caddy

Deep butter dishes can be used as containers for conveniently housing hair accessories like scrunchies, clips, and barrettes attractively and with vintage flair on a dresser or vanity top. Leave it the way you found it, or add paint to customize the dish to your aesthetic. Vintage butter dishes can also be stylish containers for keeping other accessories and self-care items neatly organized where you get ready for your day, such as cosmetics, travel toiletries, and combs or brushes. Use a deep-lidded butter dish to stow makeup wipes or tissue. 

9. Succulent planter

Deeper pieces from a cover dish and butter crocks make excellent planters for small greenery like succulents. Just add some dirt, sand, or pebbles. Use them alone or in collaboration with other decorative pieces like wire stands and baskets. They make great small planters for bathrooms and a home office. Vintage crocks, in particular, can be pretty planters when part of a flea market chic aesthetic. You can also use them to house seedlings before you plant.

10. Business card holder

Slender rectangular butter dishes make excellent spots to stow business cards. Use them on your desk or studio for an upgrade from boring or sterile containers usually found in office supply stores. Also, larger, deeper dishes can accommodate postcards or greeting cards in a compact way that's easy to access. If you are an artist or crafter who does fairs or extras, use a vintage butter dish on your table to help promote your business or website with extra creative flair. 

11. Mini cake plate

Round or oval butter dishes with lids can double splendidly as mini-cake plates. Use them as a display for cupcakes, muffins, or a stack of cookies. The lid will help keep the baked goods fresher for longer and offer a very cute way to display items on your counter or table, particularly those made of clear or colored depression glass. Solid butter dishes can also be a charming way to present a small, surprise birthday cupcake with aplomb. Add a few edible or real flowers on the plate for an extra pretty display. 

12. Entryway catch-all

Shallow dishes are great to keep near the door for housing keys, coins, sunglasses, and small objects that are hard to keep track of in coming and going. Place one on an entryway table or shelf near the door as a catch-all that is as pretty as it is functional. Their small size will make them less bulky to conserve space on narrow shelves or tables in an entryway, front hallway, or mudroom. This is a great way to use pieces of butter dishes that are missing their original tops or bottoms. 

13. Tiny terrarium

Circular or oval clear butter dishes can be repurposed as small and thriving terrariums by adding some moss, pebbles, and other tiny natural items that will grow under their lids with a little watering. Or make a small fairy garden with added figurines, butterflies, and other decorative elements. These mini greenhouse conditions are perfect for small spaces like desktops or bookshelves, and make great gifts for plant lovers. If you don't have a green thumb, you can also fill them with groupings of dried flowers for a beautiful dry preserved bouquet under glass. 

14. Ring dish

Tiny butter pat dishes were commonly sold in many china sets, with one designated for each place setting. These tiny dishes are not only cute as a button but can also be used to hold rings or other small jewelry next to the sink or on your nightstand. Even better, they are typically available at thrift stores and antique markets — they were often unused in many households except for formal occasions. They are also small, so they're much less likely to break than larger dishware over the years.

15. Storage crocks

Old butter crocks are a charming accent piece that can be used purely decoratively or to stash small items securely. Some can be quite large, many with old markings from their original company. Use these larger ones to hold utensils in a kitchen or makeup brushes in your bathroom. They also make nice office or craft room storage for paints, thread, and buttons. Or use them in your bathroom to hold cotton balls, swabs, or other tiny toiletries. 

16. Soap dish

Butter dishes bear a strong resemblance to soap dishes, which are usually shaped very similarly and designed to hold their contents in a closed environment to help keep them from drying out. If you find a butter dish you love but don't need it in the kitchen, use it as a place to keep your soap on the vanity. The lid will help keep the soap free of germs and debris when not being used. Use a larger circular domed dish as a place to attractively display pretty hotel soaps picked up during travels.