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This post was originally published on April 25, 2020 and was updated on June 7, 2021. Once you know how to make browned butter there’s no end to the depth of flavor you can add to your dinners and desserts! Read below for the entire step-by-step tutorial.
Maybe this is something I should’ve shared before reposting my (absolutely amazingly delicious) Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ah, well, I’m nothing if not someone who loves being a day late and a dollar short. (Actually I hate it. Help me!)
What Is Browned Butter?
It is butter that has been heated to the point that the water evaporates and the milk solids fall out of suspension and get all toasty and golden on the bottom of a pan. The result is an immensely deep and nutty flavored liquid that is amazing in baked goods and savory dishes too!
What Does Browned Butter Look Like?
Browned butter fresh from the pan will be liquid. It has a dark yellow to golden color and is speckled with beautiful dark brown bits. Those are the toasted milk solids!
What you'll need
- Butter (which can be cold or room temp)
- A shallow skillet (non-stick preferably)
- Rubber spatula (not totally necessary, but I don’t brown without it)
- A steady hand (that comes with practice)
How Do You Make Browned Butter?
- Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces. This will aid in the melting process, especially if the butter is straight from the fridge. (P.S. that’s one of my favorite things – you can brown butter that isn’t room temperature. No waiting for butter to soften!)
- Melt the butter. In a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Swirl the pan. Keep the liquid moving around to avoid burning.
- Keep an eye on it. You’ll notice that the butter will first start to bubble (boil). This is the water evaporating out of the butter (yes, there’s water in butter!). In order to get browned butter we have to get rid of all the water so the milk solids (yep, those are in butter too) fall to the bottom of the pan.
- Keep swirling the pan. Don’t stop! The butter will go from boiling and bubbling intensely to forming more of a light foam on top. This means you’re getting close to browned butter goodness!
- Scrape down the sides. Getting any bits of butter that may have been left behind. Once that happens, I like to scrape the bottom too, to make sure all the solids are toasting evenly.
- Remove from heat! The foam will go from white to beige to brown and you’ll smell that magical scent. It’s nutty and rich and completely mouthwatering. That’s how you know you’ve done it. Kill the heat so you don’t go from brown to burnt!
- Remove from the pan. I like to get my liquid gold out of the pan as quickly as possible to avoid burning. I simply pour mine into a heat safe bowl or my mixing bowl until ready to use. Be sure to scrape the pan with your rubber spatula to get every last morsel!
How to use it?
In any number of things! You already know I love it in cookies! It’s also great in banana bread! And I’ve seen it done in lotsa pasta as of late! It’s great as a sauce over fish or a glaze on roasted veggies.
Making Ahead of Time & Storing
Not sure what you want to make with your browned butter – don’t worry! You can make it ahead of time! In fact, with baked goods, you’ll usually have to brown it and then let it cool down a bit. Butter that’s straight out of the pan would scramble any eggs in your baked good and no one wants that!
Can You Refrigerate Browned Butter?
Yes! Simply place it in a heat safe container and let it cool to room temperature. Close the lid tightly and place it in the fridge. It will last for up to a week.
To use refrigerated browned butter simply remove it from the fridge and microwave in 30-second bursts, mixing after each, until the butter is liquid again.
You’ll notice after refrigeration all the milk solids will settle and you’ll have a lovely layer of browned flavor on the bottom. Be sure to mix well after reheating to incorporate all these delicious bits when you’re going to use it!
Should You Use Salted or Unsalted Butter?
If you’re going to be baking with it, I’d recommend unsalted (I’ll always recommend baking with unsalted, browned or not). Butter manufacturers don’t have a standard measurement for how much salt to include per stick. Each brand has its own recipe/amount of salt. Using unsalted allows you to control the amount of salt in the recipe to avoid a too-salty sweet.
I hope this answered any questions you may have had regarding browned butter and all its uses! Go forth and brown!
- Non-stick skillet
- Rubber Spatula
- 20 tablespoon butter salted or unsalted, depending on use
- Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces. This will aid in the melting process, especially if the butter is straight from the fridge.
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- Once the butter is completely melted, begin swirling the pan to keep the liquid moving and to avoid burning.
- Continue swirling the pan. At this point the butter should be bubbling as the water evaporates and the milk solids begin to sink to the bottom of the pan.
- Keep swirling the pan. The butter will go from boiling and bubbling intensely to forming more of a light foam on top.
- Scrape down the sides of the pan, getting any bits of butter that may have been left on the edges. Continue swirling the pan.
- The foam will go from white to beige to brown and you’ll begin to smell a magical scent. It’s nutty and rich and completely mouthwatering. That’s how you know you’ve done it. Remove the pan from the heat so you don’t go from brown to burnt.
- Transfer the browned butter from the pan to a heat safe bowl or my mixing bowl until ready to use. Be sure to scrape down the bottom of the pan to ensure you get all the good browned bits.
- Cold butter straight from the fridge can be used in this process.
- Butter can be browned ahead of time and stored, covered, in fridge for up to one week.
- When baking with browned butter it is best to use unsalted, if cooking with the browned butter, salted can be used.
- Refer to post for FAQ.