I think every home chef needs to know how to brown butter. Butter is good in just about everything, but brown butter might be even better! It adds depth and flavor to so many recipes, especially cookies and savory side dishes. Learn how to keep it from Burning so you can savor every drop.

Butter browning in a saucepan.
Brown the butter.

Have you ever tried to brown butter and ended up with burnt butter instead and had to start all over. After throwing out wonderful butter several times, I’ve learned a few tips to help make this a little easier.

Brown butter has a beautifully rich and nutty flavor that tastes magnificent. It will elevate your baked goods, and if you want to make vegetables taste amazing, roast them drizzled in brown butter. You won’t believe the difference it can make.

So how do you make brown butter? And more importantly how do you keep it from burning? This guide will show you how every home chef can quickly make this essential ingredient in their own kitchen.

What is brown butter?

Brown butter is simply regular butter that’s been simmered on the stovetop until it turns a golden brown color. In the process, the milk solids in butter are warmed until they caramelize, giving the butter an intense, rich and nutty flavor.

Do I need to let brown butter solidify before using it?

No, you do not necessarily need to let brown butter solidify before using it. The decision to use it in its liquid or solid form depends on the recipe you’re making.

If your recipe calls for melted butter like with banana bread, you can use the brown butter immediately while it’s still a liquid.

On the other hand, if you prefer to use brown butter as a solid, like wth chocolate chip cookies or coconut cookies, you’ll need to let it cool and solidify at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Once it has solidified, you can use it as you would regular butter.

Just remember if you are using it for baking and the recipe calls for 8 tablespoons of butter, you will need to brown a little more because when the water evaporates you will end up with less butter than when you started.

Why You’ll Love Making Brown Butter

  • Irresistible nutty flavor: Brown butter adds a lovely nutty flavor to your dishes, adding depth and complexity that regular butter can’t match.
  • Incredible aroma: As the butter browns, it releases a heavenly aroma that fills your kitchen. Yum!
  • Versatility: Brown butter can be used in a wide range of recipes, from savory dishes like pasta sauces and roasted vegetables to sweet treats like cookies, cakes, and frostings. 
  • Simple and quick technique: Making brown butter is an easy and straightforward process that requires minimal effort.
  • Elevates your culinary skills: Incorporating brown butter into your cooking repertoire adds a professional touch to your dishes. It’s a simple yet impressive technique that will impress family and friends.

What You’ll Need

To make brown butter, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • A heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet. A good quality pan will help distribute heat evenly and prevent burning. While a saucepan is the easiest, I’ve used all types of skillets and saucepans to brown butter.
  • Whisk or wooden spoon: You’ll use this to stir and scrape the bottom of the pan during the browning process.

How to Make Brown Butter

Sometimes it helps to actually see the process, taking photos of browning butter can quickly end up with burnt butter, so there is a video below in the recipe card.

Step 1: Add the butter to the pan.

Start by melting the butter. Place butter cut into pieces in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet over low to medium heat.

A saucepan with cut butter cubes.
Cut butter into cubes and place in saucepan.

Step 2: Cook the butter.

Let the butter melt completely. As it continues to cook, it will start to foam. This is just the water evaporating out of the butter. Stir often with a whisk or wooden spoon.

Step 3: Watch the color.

After the foaming subsides, the butter will begin to darken. Keep a close eye on it as the color transitions from a pale yellow to golden amber. The aroma will become nutty and fragrant.

Brown butter in a skillet.
Remove from the stove once it starts to turn brown.

Watch it carefully! If you think the color is changing, remove it from the heat and keep stirring. It will continue to cook in the pan, so don’t be afraid to remove it. Put it back on the stove if needed.

Step 4: Remove it from the heat.

As soon as you see brown bits beginning to form, immediately remove the pan from the heat to prevent the butter from burning. Keep stirring it in the pan until the color is a deep golden brown.

Step 5: Store the butter.

As soon as it has turned brown pour it into a heat-proof container, including any sediment or solids at the bottom of the pan (that’s where all the best flavor is!). If you leave it in the pan it will continue to cook and could burn. If storing for later, a glass jar works great. If using right away, then pour it into a glass measuring cup or bowl. You want to get it out of the pan so that it doesn’t continue to cook.

Brown butter in a bowl.
Pour the butter into a glass container.

Use it immediately or let it cool and solidify before storing.

Tips for Making Perfect Brown Butter

  • Watch it constantly, don’t walk away from the stove or get distracted, the browning can happen very quickly.
  • Stir frequently (or even constantly). This keeps the molecules in the butter moving so it browns evenly.
  • Use a light-colored pan: This makes it easier to see when the color changes, as opposed to a dark pan.
  • Be patient: The browning process may take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, so take your time.

How to Store Brown Butter

Pour your liquid brown butter into a heat-safe container. Use it immediately. Or, if you want it to solidify, store the brown butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. 

Can I freeze brown butter?

If you want to extend its shelf life, you can freeze it. Pour the brown butter into an airtight container, and it will stay fresh for up to six months.

Fabulous Recipes with Brown Butter

Now that you’ve mastered making brown butter here are some of my favorite ways to use it.

Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats Recipe
With just three ingredients, it’s no surprise that Rice Krispie treats are a childhood favorite. Magically transform them into Brown Butter Rice Krispie treats with just 1 extra step and create an even better dessert.

I first published this post on How to Brown Butter on my Southern food blog Butter and Baggage.

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