Today we’re all about how to brown butter. Browned butter is one of the joys of the kitchen that brings so much flavor to baking and cooking. Learn how to brown butter, and anything you use it in will just taste better.
It’s not a difficult process. It just takes a bit of patience. Keep your heat on medium and let the butter do its thing.
And then use some browned butter to make brown butter blueberry buckle or maybe some silky cream of cauliflower soup.
Why Would You Want to Brown Butter?
Some of you may be asking why you’d want to brown butter in the first place.
The answer is to heighten the flavor of the butter, making it both nutty and a bit butterscotchy.
The French call this nutty goodness beurre noisette, which means hazelnut butter.
This of course has to do with the nutty aroma, but I would also say that the color of the browned milk solids are about the color of hazelnut skins as well: a deep, almost mahogany color.
But not black. Black equals burned.
What Is Browned Butter?
Browned butter is really a misnomer, because we’re not browning the butter itself so much as we are browning the milk solids in the butter and then infusing that caramelized flavor into the remaining butterfat.
That’s a bit of a hair-splitting distinction, but now you know so you can be That Smart One who knows a bunch of awesome stuff about cooking.
How To Use Brown Butter
Since beurre noisette has a deeper flavor than “regular” or whole butter, it of course will deepen the flavor of everything you put it in.
It works especially well with recipes calling for brown sugar—chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, blondies, etc–because it reinforces the toffee-ish/butterscotch flavor profile that you get when you mix butter and brown sugar.
On the savory side of things, browned butter works really well with fall flavors: butternut squash and pumpkin come immediately to mind.
There is a reason that pumpkin ravioli in browned butter and sage is such a beloved dish.
Add a bit of beurre noisette to sauces and gravies whenever you want to heighten caramelized flavor.
Brown butter also has a higher smoke point than whole butter since we no longer have to worry about the milk solids burning because they’re gone.
Try pan frying fish in browned butter, tilting the pan and spooning the hot fat over the fish as it cooks.
Take a look at this post on how to make beggar’s linguine. There is no recipe, but you just use up bits of this and that and bind all the ingredients together with brown butter to make a delicious and easy pasta sauce.
How to Substitute Brown Butter for Whole Butter
Keep in mind that, because your butter after cooking is 100% fat and whole butter is only about 80% fat, if you want to substitute browned butter for whole butter in baking without any change in the texture of the finished dish, you’ll have to decrease the amount by 20% and increase the liquid by the same amount.
If a recipe calls for 4 oz (1 stick) of butter, substitute 3.2 oz browned butter (4 oz times 80%) and add an extra .8 oz liquid (4.0-3.2=0.8).
How to Make Brown Butter, the Short Version
- work over medium heat, swirling the pan often
- once the milk solids sink, it will not take long for them to brown, so keep an eye on it
- once the solids have turned a medium brown, immediately strain the butter into a waiting bowl
This brown butter post is the result of a reader request.
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- 1 pound (16 oz or 4 sticks) unsalted butter
- Place the sticks of butter in a medium sauce pan and melt over medium heat.
- Cut the butter into pieces to help it melt more evenly.
- Once the butter has melted, keep it over the heat.
- Swirl the pan occasionally as the butter cooks.
- You will notice it start to sputter and boil after a couple of minutes. This is the water in the butter boiling away. Some foam will collect on top of the butter, too.
- Keep swirling the pan and cooking the butter until you can see deep golden brown bits (milk solids from the butter) on the bottom of the pan. The butter will smell rich and nutty and kind of like toffee.
- Carefully pour the butter through a fine mesh strainer and into a heat proof bowl. You can leave the browned bits in the butter or carefully spoon the browned butter into another container, leaving the browned milk solids behind.
- Cool to room temperature and then store in the freezer for 2 weeks. For longer storage, browned butter freezes very well and will stay fresh for several months.
The best pan to use to make browned butter in is one that is white inside, like a small enameled cast iron pan. If you don't have one, use a stainless steel pan. Don't use a pan with a dark interior, because you won't be able to judge the color of the milk solids.
You can brown a lot of butter at a time without issue. Just make sure your pan is large enough. to hold the butter and be careful not to burn yourself.
Note that even though you start with a pound of butter, you will end up with about 13 oz of butter. This is because the water in whole butter, which accounts for roughly 80% of the weight of butter, will boil off during the browning process.
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Nutrition InformationYield 13 Serving Size 1 oz
Amount Per Serving Calories 250Total Fat 28.3gSaturated Fat 17.9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 75mgSodium 201mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein .3g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
Thank you so much for spending some time here today.
Have a lovely day.
PS Keep an eye out for all the Fundamental Friday posts.