European Food Research and Technology

, Volume 226, Issue 3, pp 315–325 | Cite as

Aroma-active compounds of butter: a review

  • Silvia Mallia
  • Felix Escher
  • Hedwig Schlichtherle-CernyEmail author
Review Article


This review article shows that more than 230 volatile compounds have been identified in butter, however, only a small number of them can be considered as key odorants of butter aroma. Gas chromatography olfactometry was used to determine the character impact odorants of different kinds of butter. Sweet cream butter is characterised by lactones with fruity and creamy notes and by sulphur compounds, having corn-like and garlic odours. The key odour compounds of sour cream butter are diacetyl (buttery-like), butanoic acid (cheesy) and δ-decalactone (peach), mainly due to lactic acid bacteria fermentation. The aroma of butter oil is characterised by aldehydes, such as (E)- and (Z)-2-nonenal and (E,E)-2,4-decadienal, conferring green and oily notes. Olfactometric studies of heated butter showed the formation of new aroma compounds during heating, such as 3-methylbutanoic acid (cheesy), methional (potato-like) and 2,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3-(2H)-furanone (caramel-like). High temperature treatment of butter can also induce off-flavour development. Off-odours in butter originate from autooxidative and as well as from lipolytic reactions, microbial contamination and animal feeding.


Butter Aroma GC-O Gas chromatography Olfactometry Off-flavour 



Aroma extract dilution analysis


Butter oil


Combined hedonic aroma response measurement


Dimethyl sulphide


Dimethyl trisulphide


Dilution factor


Flame ionisation detector


Two dimensional gas chromatography


Gas chromatography mass spectrometry


Gas chromatography olfactometry


Odour activity value


Stable isotope dilution assay


Surface nasal impact frequency


Sour cream butter


Solid phase microextraction


Sweet cream butter


Time-of-flight mass spectrometry



The authors thank Brita Rehberger, Claude Hegel and Walter Strahm (Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux, Switzerland) for useful discussions and Christoph Cerny (Firmenich, Geneva, Switzerland) for critically reviewing the manuscript.

The authors gratefully acknowledge financial participation from the European Community under the Sixth Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities, for the Integrated Project QUALITYLOWINPUTFOOD, FP6-FOOD-CT-2003-506358 and co-funding by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Mallia
    • 1
  • Felix Escher
    • 2
  • Hedwig Schlichtherle-Cerny
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux Research Station ALPBerneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Food Science and NutritionFood Technology and Sensory ScienceZurichSwitzerland

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