How to Brown Butter

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Brown Butter — nutty caramelized butter. Use this fragrant butter to flavor desserts, pasta, vegetables, and more.

If you’ve never smelled, let alone tasted Brown Butter, you are missing out on an seriously wonderful experience. The nutty aroma is intoxicating. I make brown butter for everything from cookies to veggies. Making takes virtually no tome and the results for the effort is unreal.

What is brown butter and why do it?

a clear glass jar filled with brown butter without lid

Browning butter is a classic French cooking skill used by many professional chefs and knowledgeable home cooks to add flavor to dishes. Butter is slowly heated in a saucepan to the point of the milk solids browning. The toasted brown bits (milk solids) are what gives the nutty fragrance and flavor. This is a skill that all home cooks should master to add dimension and freshness to dishes normally prepared with butter.

Brown butter ingredients and equipment

butter chunks in a skillet

Salted or unsalted butter– Unsalted butter is most often used but I stand firmly on the use of salted butter for most recipes. I prefer to make a large batch of salted brown butter but will on occasion make unsalted for particular recipes.
Whisky or wooden spoon
Strainer, optional
4-cup measuring cup


brown bits starting to form

Salted or unsalted butter is the only ingredient that you need for this skill. Start my cutting the butter into large chunks and placing them into a saucepan.

stirring the brown bits in a skillet

Over medium heat, melt the butter until it bubbles. Drop the heat to low and watch the bottom of the pan for brown bits; stir frequently.

Once the color of the butter is light amber, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. The butter is ready for use in hot dishes like Brown Butter Sweet Carrots or cooled for recipes like Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.


pouring the butter to straining the foam

Pour the browned butter through a fine-mesh strainer into the mouth of a large cup.
Skim the foam from the top of the butter.

Allow the butter to cool before transferring it to an airtight container with a lid for storage in the fridge.

How to use brown butter

melted butter in a measuring cup

Use brown butter in any recipe calling for butter. It can be used in a liquid or solid state. To use in recipes be sure to add an additional tablespoon of butter for every 1/2 cup or stick of butter.

Tips and troubleshooting

  • Strain or don’t strain the milk solids. This is a personal choice. Most of the flavor comes from the brown bits and it remains after is strained. Leaving the milk solids gives a little more potency.
  • Stay with the butter! Don’t walk away from the pot for a second because almost instantly you go from the sweet spot to burn. Keep stirring the butter and looking for brownness.
  • Moisture will be lost so make extra brown butter. This is very important to note—for every stick of butter you will lose about 1 tablespoon due to moisture loss. So for every recipe that called for 1/2 cup of butter, add at least 1 tablespoon to compensate for the loss.


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a clear glass jar filled with brown butter without lid
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How to Brown Butter

Print Recipe
Brown Butter — nutty caramelized butter. Use this fragrant butter to flavor desserts, pasta, vegetables, and more.
Prep Time:5 mins
Cook Time:15 mins
Total Time:20 mins


  • 2 c salted butter 4 sticks
  • unsalted may be used of desired


  • Over medium-low heat, slowly melt the butter until it starts to bubble and foam. Turn down the heat to low. Watch the bottom of the pan for brown flecks, stirring frequently to prevent burning. The color will darken then turn off the heat and strain with a mesh strainer. This will yield 1 and 3/4 cups of brown butter.


Calories: 116kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 4mg | Sugar: 1g
Course: Sauce, Spread
Cuisine: French
Keyword: browned butter, butter
Servings: 28 tablespoons
Calories: 116kcal
Author: Ty

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