Browned butter makes just about everything better. This delicious and nutty form butter takes is perfect for elevating your food. Learn exactly how to make brown butter in just a few minutes!
One of my all-time favorite things is brown butter. Even just the way it smells is just so amazing. If they made it into perfume, I might be tempted to buy it.
I use browned butter to elevate my savory dishes and my desserts alike. It adds so much dimension to your food with minimal effort on your end. It takes only a few extra minutes, and is almost foolproof.
What is it
Brown butter is heat-treated butter that allows the milk solids in the butter to caramelize. It is known for a deep amber, light brown color and a noticeable nutty scent.
It comes from the French beurre noisette which translates to hazelnut butter. When butter melts, the butterfat and the milk solids separate.
As it continues to cook, much of the water content evaporates, the melted butter darkens in color, and the milk solids caramelize and speckle the bottom of your pan.
It is often used in French cooking, but it is also popular in American cooking and baking.
If you are making clarified butter or ghee, it is easy to overcook your butter so that the milk solids end up browning and bringing your butter to this caramelized stage.
How to make
Typically, I prefer to make mine in a saucepan, but you can use almost anything you have around. There are two main different ways to brown your butter: the microwave and the stovetop.
How to Make in the Microwave:
This is not my favorite way to make brown butter, and not one I recommend unless you have no stovetop available. Even then, an induction cooktop is a great investment.
- Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl with high sides to capture the butter as it bubbles and cooks.
- Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe top. Sometimes I will just use a plate or a wider bowl.
- Microwave at intervals. Heat for 2 ½ minutes, then 45-second intervals, checking the butter between bursts. Cook for no more than 6 minutes.
- Check that it is done (Carefully! Everything is still very hot!). The butter will smell nutty and there will be brown speckles in the bottom.
- Allow your bowl to cool for a minute, and use something to remove the hot bowl.
How to Make in a Nonstick Pan:
This is my preferred method. It is easier to watch and see the butter brown and make sure you don't accidentally burn it.
- Place your butter in the pan and heat on medium-high heat.
- Stir the butter with a wooden or silicone spoon once it begins to melt.
- Allow the butter to continue cooking until the butter begins to give off a nutty scent.
- Remove from heat.
When browning butter for the first time, it is important to keep your eye on it, which is why I prefer the stovetop method.
I recommend cutting stirring the butter frequently to encourage even browning.
The butter will at first take its time cooking, then it will start to bubble and you may have a hard time seeing the contents of the pan, that is when the butter is going to start browning.
Use your senses, smell the butter, it will become nice and fragrant. Use a light colored saucepan so you can see the color. It should be a nice caramely color. For your first few times, err on the side of a lighter caramel as brown butter can easily burn and will leave you with a bitter taste.
You can definitely make it ahead of time. In fact, once you've finished browning your butter, it will still act and behave the same as regular butter. I always recommend storing your butter in a small, airtight container.
If you plan to use it the next day, it could be okay to leave it at room temperature overnight, but my recommendation is to refrigerate it. You may also freeze brown butter.
You can refrigerate browned butter. In fact, many of my recipes call for the butter to be refrigerated, even just for a short period of time to resolidify it partially.
You can reheat the butter as needed if you made it ahead of time, or if it was in a sauce you are reheating.
Yes, there can be quite a bit of it too, depending on the butterfat percentage of your butter. This is why you should always measure the brown butter after you've browned it.
If a recipe calls for "½ cup melted butter" then measure your melted finished butter. If a recipe calls for "½ cup butter, room temperature" then let your butter solidify and measure that. If your recipe already has the butter browned the recipe, such as my brown butter chocolate chip cookies, just follow the recipe as directed.
Now you've browned your butter, here's some inspiration on what you can do with it! I love making these brown butter pumpkin snickerdoodles. My brown butter banana bread and my brown butter banana snack cake are big hits here and among readers. This apple cider hot toddy uses the butter to flavor bourbon and it is life-changing. These brown butter coconut chocolate chip scones are amazing. You need to try these brown butter madeleines and these brown butter cupcakes, too! If you want something savory, try my brown butter scampi. My friend Olivia made this amazing brown butter bacon cornbread you may love.
How to Make Brown Butter
- ½ cup butter
- Place the butter in a saucepan.
- Heat on medium-high heat.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until the butter begins to brown and smell nutty.
- Remove from heat.