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August 30, 2019
It’s Not a Barbecue Without a Butter Wheel

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Long before that Popeyes sandwich was a twinkle in any marketing exec’s eye, Jon Shook was serving 60 to 75 fried chicken sandwiches per day at his Los Angeles restaurant Son of a Gun. The key to this chicken sandwich with a cult following (along with a buttermilk batter and a crunchy jalapeño slaw) is a toasted, very buttery bun. But the key to buttering that many rolls in a short amount of time is a little countertop gadget beloved by diners and fast food restaurants—one that he remembers from working at mom-and-pop restaurants in high school. It’s the butter wheel ($30).

“A butter wheel is basically a pan with a hamster wheel that sits inside of it,” Shook explains. “The wheel has little microscopic holes, so as it spins, it kind of pulls the fat up onto whatever it is you’re running across it.”

An evenly buttered slice of toast is as simple as a swipe across the top of the wheel. “Sometimes I’ll make garlic bread or put spices in there. But in general, pretty much all I’ve used it for is buttering bread.” Keep it next to the toaster the next time you’re making breakfast for a crowd, or next to the grill with a giant pile of hamburger buns at your next barbecue. No outlets (or hamsters) required.


  • Add a swipe of Velvet Bees Honey Butter ($13) to chicken sandwiches, or just scoop a little onto your toast in the morning.
  • The Kona Best BBQ Grill Mat ($20) can handle heat up to 600 degrees, and it will save you from buying a lot of rolls of aluminum foil in the future.
  • If you need to cart things from your kitchen to your backyard, this Bamboo Serving Tray ($20) is here to help.
  • These machine-washable Produce Bags ($14) are great news for the tomatoes that somehow always get dented on the walk home from the store.
  • If there’s a silver lining to the end of summer, maybe it’s the perfect weather to make every recipe from Perfect Pan Pizza ($17, Ten Speed Press), by bread guru Peter Reinhart.

Anna Hezel

Anna Hezel is the former senior editor of TASTE.