Brown Butter Is My Weeknight Dinner Secret Weapon

Sorry, basic butter. You just got beat.

Brown butter in a bowl

Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Just hearing the words “brown butter” makes my ears perk up and I know I’m not alone. From brown butter chocolate chunk cookies to chewy brown butter blondies, everything just sounds and tastes better when brown butter is involved.

But did you know brown butter has a place in savory dishes, too? Its sweet, nutty flavor adds richness and complexity to everything it touches, from roasted root vegetables to scrambled eggs. Here are a few tips to help you start using brown butter in savory cooking—it elevates even the most basic weeknight dinners.

3 Tips for Cooking With Brown Butter 

  1. Make a 1:1 swap. Because water evaporates from butter as it browns, swapping brown butter into baked goods requires adding back in some moisture. Luckily, savory dishes don’t require the same precision. Whenever a recipe calls for butter, be it for homemade breadcrumbs or classic glazed carrots, feel free to use an equal amount of brown butter in its place.
  2. Prep it in big batches. I recommend browning a pound of butter all at once and storing it in the fridge, where it will keep for up to one month. This will make it infinitely easier to start experimenting, whether you’re making mashed potatoes or buttering dinner rolls.
  3. Use it as a finisher. Though it’s tempting to make brown butter the star of every show, it’s equally as effective as a finishing touch. Try it drizzled onto puréed soups, dolloped onto pancakes, or stirred into creamy polenta.

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

3 Ways To Use Brown Butter Beyond Baking

Ready to start using brown butter in savory recipes? Here are three places where brown butter really shines.

  1. Elevate pasta. In the time it takes to heat up marinara, you can create a restaurant-worthy sauce that elevates weeknight pasta. Brown the butter in a pan, add a splash of pasta water, then add the cooked pasta and Parmesan, and toss to combine. This sauce tastes particularly good with nutty whole wheat pasta or squash-stuffed ravioli.
  2. Make a pan sauce for fish. Brown butter adds elegance and richness to mild white fish like halibut. Brown a knob of butter in the pan you used to cook the fish, stir in a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh herbs, then spoon it over the filets. Try it with seared scallops, too. 
  3. Whip up a vinaigrette. Rich brown butter and tangy balsamic vinegar are a match made in heaven. (A bit of diced shallot and a dollop of Dijon mustard doesn’t hurt, either.) Drizzle the warm or room temperature vinaigrette over bitter greens, panzanella salads, or roasted vegetables