How to Make Brown Butter

What is brown butter and how do you make it? Well, brown butter is ordinary butter cooked until it melts and the milk solids in it turn a golden brown. This cooking process brings out deeper, more complex flavors and aromas in the butter.

Brown butter has been around for centuries in French cuisine, where it is known as beurre noisette. It is used in savory dishes, baking, and as a finishing touch for pasta and vegetables. Recently, it’s become more popular in the United States as both chefs, and home cooks discover its versatility and delicious taste. Bill has used brown butter to top his homemade butternut squash ravioli.

A plate of ravioli garnished with cheese and herbs, paired with a glass of wine in the background.
Photo credit: Adobe Photos.

How To Make Brown Butter

Browning butter is incredibly easy and only takes a few minutes. All you need is a pan, some butter and a little bit of patience.

It is easiest to see the butter change color if you use a light-color pan for browning. And salted butter is more likely to burn, so use unsalted butter.

  1. Cut the butter into pieces and put the pieces in the pan over medium heat. Stir as it melts and begins to foam.
  2. As it cooks, the water inside will evaporate, and the milk solids will turn golden brown. Keep stirring.
  3. Watch as the butter browns since it can quickly go from brown to burnt. It will get less foamy as it cooks, and the butter will turn golden brown. This will take 5–8 minutes.
  4. Once the butter has reached a nice golden brown color and has a nutty smell, take the pan off the heat and immediately pour it into a bowl. If you leave it in the hot pan, it will continue to cook and it might burn.

How Can You Tell When the Butter Is Browned?

The butter is browned as soon as you start to see brown specks in it. It will have a nutty, toasty scent and a deep golden brown color. 

Once the butter is properly browned, immediately take the pan off the heat and continue stirring. The butter will burn if overcooked. If the butter burns, it will be bitter and you’ll need to toss it in the bin. The bitter flavor will ruin any dish you add it to.

Brown Butter vs. Regular Butter

The main difference between these two types of butter is the flavor. Brown butter has a bold, deep, toasted flavor that ordinary butter lacks.

Brown butter also has a slightly higher smoke point, which means it can be heated to a higher temperature before it starts to smoke. Since some of the water that naturally occurs in butter evaporates through the browning process, browned butter has slightly more calories and fat by volume than regular butter. That is also part of the reason that it has a more intense, concentrated flavor.

Can You Freeze Brown Butter?

Yes, you can freeze brown butter. First, let it cool to room temperature and then transfer it to an airtight container or wrap it in plastic wrap or foil, sealing it tightly. It will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. When ready to use it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using it in a recipe.

Can You Substitute Brown Butter for Regular Butter in Recipes?

Yes, you can frequently substitute brown butter for regular butter. Remember that it will change how the final dish tastes, so make sure the caramel flavors work with your meal.

If your recipe calls for melted butter, it can be used easily. But if your dish calls for softened butter, like many cookie recipes, you must let the browned butter cool and solidify before using.

In addition, some of the water content will evaporate as it browns. So if you brown ½ cup of butter, you will have less when you are done. Take this into account and brown more than the recipe calls for.

Recipe Ideas To Use Brown Butter

Brown butter adds a rich, caramelized flavor to many recipes. Whether whipping up a baked good, sautéing some veggies, or making a sauce, a little brown butter will bring a nutty, delicious twist. And it is Keto friendly too. Here are some ideas to inspire you.

  • Pasta: Pasta dishes such as spaghetti aglio e olio or fettuccine alfredo have extra flavor when made with brown butter. As mentioned earlier, Bill has topped his homemade butternut squash raviolis with brown butter. The nutty flavor was a lovely complement to the savory butternut squash filling.
  • Seafood: Sauteing seafood dishes, such as scallops or shrimp, in brown butter gives them incredible flavor.
  • Vegetables: Use it to sauté or roast vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or green beans.
  • Baked goods: Brown butter adds a nutty flavor to cakes, cookies, and other baked goods.
  • Sauces: Use it as a base for sauces like hollandaise sauce or beurre blanc.
  • Soups: Add it to soups such as French onion soup or squash soup.

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Browned Butter in a Skillet with a Wood Spatula.

Brown Butter

What is brown butter and how do you make it? Well, brown butter is ordinary butter cooked until it melts and the milk solids in it turn a golden brown. This cooking process brings out deeper, more complex flavors and aromas in the butter.
Brown butter has been around for centuries in French cuisine, where it is known as “beurre noisette.” It is used in savory dishes, baking, and as a finishing touch for pasta and vegetables. Recently, it's become more popular in the United States as both chefs, and home cooks discover its versatility and delicious taste. Bill has used brown butter to top his homemade butternut squash ravioli.
Browning butter is incredibly easy and only takes a few minutes. All you need is a pan, some butter and a little bit of patience.
It is easiest to see the butter change color if you use a light-color pan for browning. And salted butter is more likely to burn, so use unsalted butter.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 101 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Skillet Choose a light-colored skillet, such as the ones we have from All Clad.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 stick unsalted butter Always choose unsalted butter as the salted kind burns more easily.

Instructions
 

  • Cut the butter into pieces. Since a stick of butter has eight tablespoon, cut into eight pieces.
  • Place the pieces in the pan over medium heat.
  • Stir as it melts and begins to foam.
  • It will get less foamy as it cooks, and the butter will turn golden brown. This will take 5–8 minutes.
  • Once the butter has reached a nice golden brown color and has a nutty smell, take the pan off the heat and immediately pour it into a bowl. If you leave it in the hot pan, it will continue to cook and it might burn.

Notes

The butter is browned as soon as you start to see brown specks in it. It will have a nutty, toasty scent and a deep golden brown color. 
Once the butter is properly browned, immediately take the pan off the heat and continue stirring. The butter will burn if overcooked. If the butter burns, it will be bitter and you’ll need to toss it in the bin. The bitter flavor will ruin any dish you add it to.
The main difference between these two types of butter is the flavor. Brown butter has a bold, deep, toasted flavor that ordinary butter lacks.
Brown butter can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, but it’s best when used within a few days.

Nutrition

Calories: 101kcalCarbohydrates: 0.01gProtein: 0.1gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 2mgPotassium: 3mgSugar: 0.01gVitamin A: 353IUCalcium: 3mgIron: 0.003mg

Disclaimer

Please note that nutrient values, if included with the recipe, are estimates only. Variations can occur due to product availability/substitution and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of origin, preparation, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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