Brown butter is an easy way to add a rich nutty aroma to so many dishes. Just toast butter over the stove to caramelize the milk solids, then add it to baked goods, pasta sauce, and more!
We love to use brown butter in our Brown Butter Blondies, Miso Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mashed Potatoes, Lobster Ravioli Pasta Sauce, and in buttercream and frosting. It adds a delicious toasty flavor that takes our dishes -- both savory and sweet -- to the next level. Besides being tasty, it only takes a few minutes and minimal effort to make!
About Brown Butter
- Texture - The butter is melted and cooked until it is smooth and velvety.
- Flavor - Brown butter is sweet and savory with a slightly nutty aroma.
- Time - It takes just a few minutes to caramelize the butter.
- Effort - Browning butter requires very little effort. All you need to do is whisk the butter while it cooks in the pan.
What is Brown Butter?
Browned butter is a process whereby butter is cooked until it turns golden in color. In French, it is called beurre noisette and is liquid gold. Butter is heated and whisked until the milk solids caramelize bringing out a rich and nutty flavor. Chemically, brown butter tastes delicious for the same reason that a seared steak does: a process called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars from heat that creates a distinctive toasty flavor.
- Butter - We prefer European butter because it has a higher fat content than American butter, resulting in an extra rich browned butter. However, American butter also works.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Melt butter - Heat a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the sliced butter to the pan and whisk as the butter cooks. (Photo 1)
- Toast butter - The butter will start to melt and the milk solids will begin to separate in the pan. It will begin to foam then start to brown and form small golden flecks. When ready, the melted liquid will be a golden brown in color and have a nutty aroma. (Photo 2 and 3)
- Transfer - Then remove from heat and pour into a heat-safe container or bowl to stop the cooking process. (Photo 4)
Pro tip - Keep a close eye on the butter as it can burn easily.
Store the browned butter in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the butter for up to 3 months in a freezer safe container. When you want to use it again, let it thaw to room temperature.
- Once the butter is browned, remove it from the heat immediately to prevent it from burning. It can become burned butter very quickly!
- Use a light-colored pan so you can see the color of the butter as it browns.
- Occasionally whisk and swirl the butter in the pan to ensure the cubed butter melts evenly.
You can make brown butter with salted or unsalted butter. If you are using it for baking, you may want to use unsalted butter to give you more control over the amount of salt in your baked goods. You can add the more salt later to your desired level.
Heating the butter triggers a chemical process called the Maillard reaction where animal proteins break down into flavor compounds. This process results in a caramelized and richly flavored butter.
While we wouldn't consider brown butter healthy due to the saturated fat, it is not any unhealthier than regular butter.
Yes, if the butter changes from golden brown to black, it is burnt. Be sure to remove the butter from the heat as soon as it turns golden brown so it doesn't burn.
This could be for a couple of reasons. First, the temperature may be too low. Make sure you are cooking the butter over medium heat. Second, the butter may not be sliced into small enough pieces. American butter has a lower fat content and higher water content, which means there are less milk solids to toast.
Use a light colored pan, like a stainless steel pan, so you can easily see when the butter turns golden brown and ensure you don't overcook the butter.
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How to Brown Butter
- 8 tablespoon butter sliced
- Heat a skillet or saucepan on medium heat. Add the sliced butter to the pan and whisk as the butter cooks. The butter will start to melt and the milk solids will begin to separate in the pan. The butter will begin to foam then start to brown and form small brown flecks. When ready, the butter will be golden brown and have a nutty aroma. Keep a close eye on the butter as it can burn very quickly. Remove from heat and pour into a heat-safe container or bowl to stop the cooking process.8 tablespoon butter
- Refrigerate browned butter in an air-tight container for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the butter in a freezer safe container or bag for up to 3 months. When you want to use it again, let it thaw to room temperature.
- Remove the butter from the heat immediately after it browns to ensure it doesn't burn.
- Use a light-colored pan so it is easy to see the color of the butter as it browns.
- Don't stop whisking the butter to ensure it cooks evenly.