Fat Cheeks Foods profits on the time-tested premise that butter improves everything it touches. Taking advantage of the high-fat output of small-batch Wisconsin and Minnesota creameries, owners Jamie and Andrew Pearson (at right) insert both sweet and savory ingredients into flavor-transforming compound butters. There are usually three or four varieties available at any given time, from a growing repertoire of nine; all were developed using the well-stocked kitchen pantry in the couple’s Golden Valley rambler.

Banana-vanilla bean shines on toast and pancakes, and garlic-thyme works wonders on poultry and vegetables. But the bulk of the Pearsons’ culinary energies goes into improving the classic Midwestern butter burger formula, with combinations ranging from smoky bacon-red pepper to sweet onion-jalapeño.

The recipe is a snap: top a nearly-cooked patty with a heaping tablespoon of Fat Cheeks butter and let it insinuate itself into the meat. Before the melting process is complete, place the patty in a bun so that the remaining butter can seep into the bread. “It has replaced mayonnaise, cheese and other condiments,” says Andrew Pearson. “It’s why butter burgers have been a staple in our household for quite some time.”

Fat Cheeks flavored butters ($7 per 5 oz. container), fatcheeksfoods.com