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Here’s how to make brown butter! Its nutty flavor adds a rich complexity to sauces, cookies, breads, and more.

Brown butter
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Here’s a way to step up any recipe that calls for butter: make brown butter! Cook butter past its melting point and the milk solids begin to toast and caramelize, infusing a lovely nutty aroma almost like hazelnut. It takes chocolate chip cookies and banana bread to a whole new level, and butter sauces for chicken and fish become liquid gold. It takes just a few minutes for this kitchen magic: here’s what to do!

How to brown butter

Brown butter is butter that’s heated until the milk solids start to brown and caramelize, and the water content evaporates. This process imparts a nutty, toasted flavor to the butter. Called beurre noisette in French, it can be substituted for butter in many recipes that call for it, both sweet and savory. Think cookies, cakes, quick breads, pasta sauces, drizzles for vegetables, chicken or fish, and more!

Browned butter tastes like butter with added toffee and caramel notes. It takes under 10 minutes to make and requires no special equipment! Keep in mind the timing varies based on the amount of butter being browned; smaller quantities will take less time.

  1. Place the butter in a large skillet, cut into pieces. 

    Brown butter
  2. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. First the butter melts, then it starts to foam (around 1 ½ minutes if browning 1 stick of butter).

    Brown Butter
  3. Continue to stir occasionally until the foaming stops and the butter starts to bubble, typically around 5 minutes.

    Brown Butter
  4. Continue to watch and stir occasionally until the butter becomes brown in color and starts to smell nutty, around 7 minutes. Immediately remove the butter from the heat and pour it into a bowl or container to cool (this is important, otherwise the residual heat from the pan will continue to cook the butter). Do not overcook, or you risk burning the butter.

    Brown Butter

Why is it foamy?

It is normal for brown butter to have a layer of foam on top, which is the whey proteins. If you’re using it in a recipe where you care about the appearance (a lemon butter sauce, for example), you can skim off the top layer. But if you’re using it in baked goods like cookies, muffins, or quick breads, there’s no need to skim.

Ways to use brown butter

Brown butter works in savory and sweet recipes, from pasta sauces to cakes and cookies. There’s nothing a little browned butter can’t do! Here are a few recipes where brown butter can add a nutty, toasty layer of flavor:

How to substitute brown butter in recipes

You can brown butter and substitute it for butter in most any recipe you choose. However, keep in mind that 1 stick (½ cup or 8 tablespoons butter) loses 1 tablespoon butter to evaporation. So if you’re substituting it in a very precise baking recipe, you may want to add 1 additional tablespoon butter. However, we’ve substituted 1 stick of brown butter in baked goods like banana bread and muffins and it works well.

Avoid substituting brown butter for regular in recipes that rely on room temperature butter to make a specific set texture, like cookies, cakes and icing.

If you do substitute brown butter, make sure to cool it to room temperature before using it in recipes. You can place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes to speed up the process.

Can you store brown butter?

Brown butter stores in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months; re-melt it to bring it to a liquid state before using. 

Brown Butter

More butter recipes

Brown butter’s versatility is a game-changer in the culinary world. Next time you’re in the kitchen, give it a try to elevate your dishes to a gourmet level! Here are a few more butter recipes to try:

This brown butter is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Brown butter

How to Brown Butter


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: ½ cup 1x

Description

Here’s how to make brown butter! Its nutty flavor adds a rich complexity to sauces, cookies, breads, and more.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter, unsalted or salted*

Instructions

  1. Place the butter in a large skillet**, cut into pieces. 
  2. Heat over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes total, stirring occasionally. The butter will melt, turn foamy, stop foaming and start to bubble, and then become brown in color and smell nutty. 
  3. Once the milk solids turn brown, immediately remove the butter from the heat and pour it into a bowl or container to cool (this is important, otherwise the residual heat from the pan will continue to cook the butter). Do not overcook, or you risk burning the butter.
  4. Use in recipes as desired. (Note: If desired, you can skim the foam off the top before using.) Brown butter stores in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months; re-melt it to bring it to a liquid state before using. 

Notes

*You can brown any amount of butter you like. Using smaller amounts of butter, the process will go faster. 

**Some recipes specify a light-colored pan so that you can easily see the browning, but it’s not required here (unless you have one). 

 

  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Essentials
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!