How to Brown Butter

Have you ever browned butter? It’s an easy way to take a recipe that relies on butter up a notch in flavor. Just by cooking the butter a little past the melting point results in the milk solids in the butter browning, and creating a wonderfully nutty aroma. It’s fun to do with butter-based sauces, baked goods that call for melted butter, or with vegetables such as winter squash that you sauté in butter. Just be sure to keep your eye on it while cooking; it’s pretty easy to go from browned to burnt.

What do you like to make with browned butter? Let us know in the comments.

How to Brown Butter

Ingredients

Unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoon sized slices

Method

Melt butter on medium heat Pay attention as the butter foams up

1 Heat a thick-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add the sliced butter (sliced so that the butter melts more evenly) whisking frequently. Continue to cook the butter.

The milk solids in the butter will begin to brown Remove from heat before the brown turns black

2 Once melted the butter will foam up a bit, then subside. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan. Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and place on a cool surface to help stop the butter from cooking further and perhaps burning.

It's pretty easy to overcook browned butter and go from brown to burnt. If the butter starts to blacken, I suggest dumping it and starting over (something I've had to do on occasion), unless you want beurre noir which has a different taste than nutty brown butter.

If you want to make sage brown butter sauce, add some fresh sage leaves to the butter once it has melted. Allow the butter to brown and remove from heat.

Use browned butter immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for future use.

26 Comments

  1. jen

    I wish I had this post when I was first learning how to brown butter. I had no idea that it was the solids I was supposed to be browning. It would’ve saved me many, many pounds of butter…

  2. Sri

    This is a constant at our place and we use it for so many different dishes. We always have brown butter in hand. It goes along very well with Indian sweet dishes, added instead of plain butter.

    We use it for buttering chapatis (Indian) and adding sugar and our daughter loves it; or added to pulao’s or biryani’s to enhance their flavors; also to garnish dals with cumin and other spices.

  3. Alanna

    Great tutorial, Elise. I might add that it really helps to brown butter in a light-colored pan (so leave the cast iron and dark-colored non-stick aside) so that you can more easily watch the color change.

    Great point, thanks! ~Elise

  4. Seth @ Boy Meets Food

    Nice tutorial. I’ll second what you said about how easy it is to overcook!

    If you do happen to catch it before it gets too bad, it may still be salvageable though… Depending on how bad it is, you might be able to run it through a cheesecloth and remove the burnt solids. The liquid may still be usable, if it still has that light, nutty aroma.

  5. Cynthia

    My grandmother owned a restaurant in Girard, OH in which she served the recipe below to suit coal miner appetites.

    Pork with Saurkraut and Niflies
    Today I cook the pork and saurkraut in a crock pot all day adding chicken soup base and fresh cut rosemary to taste. What makes this dish special are the Niflies!

    Niflies are dumplings cooked in the leftover crock pot broth and then covered with browned butter. Has to be tried to be believed.

    Niflies:
    1 egg
    1 c water
    pinch of salt
    flour added until sticky and ready to drop from spoon

    Mix the egg, water and salt. Slowly stir in flour until mixture is quite sticky but drops easily from spoon.

    Bring left over juice from pork and saurkraut to boil and drop dumplings into mixture from a dinner spoon in batches. When all dumplings are cooked, pour browned butter (1/2 to 3/4 stick) over dumplings. Serve as side to pork and saurkraut.

    Love all things sauerkraut and the dumplings with brown butter sound fabulous! ~Elise

  6. Monica

    Awesome, Nigella Lawson has an amazing cupcake recipe based on burnt butter (what she calls it), it is amazingly good! Google it if you’re interested :D thanks for the recipes, I’m a fresher student in London atm but still enjoy reading about things such as browned butter and goats cheese even if I can’t make them myself…

  7. Elizabeth

    Browned butter is wonderful on lightly steamed broccoli with a little added lemon juice after the butter is browned.

    You can use salted butter to make browned butter, however, it is very difficult to do, and only with the most careful watching can you avoid a disaster. Using sweet butter, without salt, is much easier, and, I think, with a more satisfactory flavor. You can always use salt when the dish is just ready to serve. I very lightly, steam the broccoli and cover it only loosely, after it is removed from the steam to keep it warm. Next, brown the sweet butter until it is a medium brown color, remove it from the heat, quickly add the lemon juice, and place the butter and lemon juice combination on the broccoli very rapidly, swirling it in the pan and scraping out as you do so. Then add the salt and pepper and serve immediately.

    Really heavenly, it’s my favorite way to prepare broccoli and has been so for more than 65 years.

  8. Olivia

    I love brown butter. It goes so well with basic veggies and potatoes. Learned how to do it about 2 years ago and the family loves it too.
    I like taking just a plain piece of baked chicken and slopping it with BB. or also chicken and noodles (homeade of course) and beef and noodles or potatoes. it goes well with plain rice. does not do too well with broccoli I have found.

    Thanks!

  9. Mary

    Your post on brown butter reminds me of an old Greek/Macedonian recipe for Buttered Pasta….
    Cook spaghetti pasta as usual for 8 to 9 min and drain. Brown 3 to 4 TB butter in a large saucepan…when the butter browns…and this is the secret to the flavor….the butter must brown and not burn)…..add a few tsps of finely chopped onion or scallions and saute.
    Add the drained pasta and toss. Then add some grated kasseri cheese and some grated parmasean cheese and toss to coat.
    Thanks for the memories.

  10. Leslie

    I’m looking forward to making your butternut squash with browned butter and sage for Thanksgiving dinner with my boyfriend’s family (yikes!) in a few days. I’m not sure I’ll have time to “test run” the recipe before then… but I’ve never had a Simply Recipes recipe fail me yet, so I have faith! :) Thank you for your site!

  11. Soma

    This is Ghee/Clarified Butter which we have been using for years and years in India. I always make mine at home and store it. Love the flavor way better than regular butter, and without the deposits it is more healthy than butter.

  12. Kim

    Browned butter is a staple in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. I learned how to make it at a very early age. It was fun to read your blog and be instantly transported back to my roots!

  13. kimE

    Wilted Spinach

    Make brown butter, add a big glub of honey and a dose of red wine vinegar. Toss in fresh spinach, salt and pepper. Delicious!

  14. Mrs.TeaPie

    I just browned 2 sticks (half pound) of butter and had sooo much foam I couldn’t tell when it was browned and I think its almost black now that its off the heat. How can I keep the foam from obliterating the view?

    Use a wide pan when you are browning that much butter. ~Elise

  15. Wilson

    Wow! You are actually teaching people how to make clarified butter from scratch. And this clarified butter with slightly burn milk solids is really something amazing.

    After removing the burn milk solids at the bottom it can be used as normal cooking oil. But for cooking, I love to have the milky and buttery taste so I’ll still use whole butter for cooking.

    For sauces, brown butter is excellent way of adding depth into the sauce. Brown butter is excellent in brown roux to make brown sauces! and also shorten the time of making good brown roux too :)

  16. Harsha

    Indian Ghee!

    Awesome recipe. I actually get unsalted butter from Costco(read super cheap) and do this at home.

    Must for Indian food and great for cooking Biryani.

  17. Diane Aragon

    I use browned butter over cooked periogi and it is delicious. My grandmother made this after making her periogi with Potatoes and butter and onions inside the periogi douogh. After the periogi are boiled, pour browned butter over them. Delicious!!

  18. Maranda

    I use browned butter to make chicken and pork. I throw some garlic and a sprig of rosemary into the pan and just let it cook all the way through. The browned butter with the garlic and rosemary is a fantastic flavor.

  19. Angie

    I love a tart (or pie) made with sliced pears surrounded by a custard made of 1 c browned butter, 3 eggs, 1 c sugar and 6 TB flour. Simple yet amazing.

    Our brussel sprouts are always lightly steamed then tossed in a large frying pan in which pecans have been toasted in browned butter with a splash of balsamic vinegar and salt.

    Thanks for the wonderful carrot cake recipe!

  20. Dee

    Question – Do you strain the butter after browning?

    No, you don’t need to strain the butter. ~Elise

  21. HunterJE

    Browned butter is brilliant in baked goods — I make a browned-butter blondie (a bar cookie similar to a brownie, but without chocolate and flavored with brown sugar and molasses) with raisins that’s always a hit.

  22. campione

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. Butter and i are breaking up soon, only to see each other on special occasions and holidays (gotta keep up appearances)so i am making egg noodles with brown butter (a nod to my northern heritage) and blackened chicken (a nod to my southern roots) Thanks again.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but comments are closed. You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page ~ Elise.