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Last Updated on October 21, 2020 by Chenée Lewis
This post is VERY overdue. My love for this ingredient is so well-established it’s almost overkill at this point. Suffice it to say that when I make any recipe that calls for butter, I at least consider swapping it for brown butter. If you have the time, it’s always something to consider. But the real question is how to make brown butter. Well, you’re in luck — although it has seemingly magical powers to transform an everyday recipe into a masterpiece, there is no magical spell required!
I have shared so many recipes on this blog that feature brown butter, starting with my sweet potato pie. But even if a recipe doesn’t require it, you can use it in any dish that could be improved by a nutty, caramel-y, rich flavor. Especially autumn and wintertime recipes like brown butter snickerdoodles or brown butter blondies, no-bake desserts like brown butter Rice Krispie treats, and savory dishes with aged cheese and earthy herbs. In short, it’s a secret ingredient that can step up lots of different types of dishes.
Step by Step
Also known as browned butter or beurre noisette, what we’re aiming for is butter that has been cooked on a stovetop until its milk solids are toasted and deep golden brown. As the butter browns, the flavor gets richer, and can turn your dish from delicious to amazing. And the best part is how easy it is! It’s so simple to get the hang of, and it only adds a few extra minutes to your total prep time. All you need to have is:
- Butter. It can be salted or unsalted, regular or you can use cultured butter for added flavor and quality
- A light-colored nonstick pan. I usually use a stainless steel pan, but if you have a white or cream-colored skillet it’s even better. This will help you clearly monitor the browning process.
Then you just need to cut your butter into chunks and heat it in your pan on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. As it starts to melt, it’ll look something like this:
Keep whisking and watching the butter and it’ll start to melt and foam up. You’ll also see the white milk solids separate and fall to the bottom of the pan.
Be sure to keep whisking so that the foam doesn’t obstruct your view of the milk solids at the bottom. They’ll be the first to start to turn a deep caramel color, after about 5 minutes or so. Finally, when it looks like this, you’re all set!
Immediately remove it from the heat and transfer to a heatproof container.
What should I do with my brown butter?
Now that you know how to make it, what’s the best use for it?
There are SO many! Brown butter works best in recipes that call for melted butter, like brownies, blondies, or certain cookie recipes. But as you grow more comfortable with the technique, you should definitely try using it in place of softened butter in recipes. It’s especially delicious in frostings or icings, and in cakes and quick breads. For that, you’ll need to chill the hot brown butter until it’s solid, and the allow it to come back up to room temperature. A great example of this technique is my brown butter yellow cake recipe!
The possibilities are endless! Let me know in the comments below what your favorite brown butter recipe is! Or if you’re still looking for a favorite, I have some recommendations!
- ½ cup butter - (1 stick) cut into cubes
- 1 tbsp water - optional
- Place butter into a cold, light-colored skillet.
- Heat on medium-high and allow butter to melt, whisking constantly to ensure even cooking. Butter should start to foam and sizzle.
- Continue whisking until milk solids separate and begin to turn golden brown.
- When butter is golden brown and you smell a nutty aroma, remove from heat and transfer immediately to a heatproof container.
- If using to substitute for regular butter in a recipe, add 1 tbsp water and stir before adding to recipe or chilling in refrigerator.
Don’t lose this technique! PIN it for later:
Wanna try out the technique? Check out my stout gingerbread cookies with brown butter cream cheese frosting! Happy baking!