How to Brown Butter

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Brown butter adds amazing rich flavor to both sweet and savory recipes. We’re answering all of your questions on how to make brown butter and what to do with it after it is made.

One thing I love about cooking and baking is that there is always something new to learn. I’ve been working in the kitchen for over 30 years, but I had never gotten into testing brown butter that much.

Yes, I had made browned butter for cookies and frostings, but I had several questions I needed answered.

Last fall I tackled brown butter face on. I read about it. I made it. Over and over. I tried different methods.

And today I’m answering all of your questions!

glasses of browned butter

What is brown butter?

There’s actually a science behind brown butter. Water content in butter cooks off and milk solids solidify, which reduces the volume of butter and leaves a thick nutty, rich flavored butter base. It is good in so many different recipes, both sweet and savory.

What is brown butter used for?

There are three different types of brown butter. We prefer the first two:

  1. Light browned butter is great in sauces over meats and vegetables.
  2. Medium browned butter adds a depth of flavor to baked goods. 
  3. Dark (but not blackened) butter has a more bitter taste and is used in some French dishes. In an a very dark state, it is called black butter, or beurre noir.
sticks of butter

What does browned butter taste like?

Browned butter will act very similar to butter in recipes, but it will have a different flavor. It has a nutty flavor. If you replace browned butter for regular butter in baked goods, it will deepen the flavor and make the baked good more rich.

How to Make Brown Butter

  • Use a heavy bottomed saucepan for even heating. Place it on the stove.
  • Cut butter into 1 tablespoon chunks.
  • Place the butter in the saucepan and set the heat to medium.
  • Allow the butter to melt, stirring often so that it melts evenly.
melted butter in a pan
  • As the butter melts it will start to bubble and “foam”.
  • The butter will become cloudy.
melted butter in a pan
  • Then as it continues to cook the butter will become clear.
melted butter in a pan
  • At this point you’ll see milk solids start to form on the bottom of the pan. As they turn golden brown, the butter will also turn to a golden color.
  • Butter is perfectly browned when it has a nutty, caramel aroma. As soon as you see the butter turn golden brown and smell nutty, take the pan off the heat and pour the clear browned butter into a clean jar or bowl.
  • If you’d like you can use a strainer or cheesecloth to strain any milk solids.
  • Use the melted butter right away or allow it to solidify. Refrigerate any leftovers.
browned butter in a measuring cup

Can you brown butter in a microwave?

Yes! You can absolutely brown butter in the microwave. It’s actually our favorite method!

Cut 2 sticks of  butter into tablespoons and place it in a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a microwave safe plate or bowl.

sliced butter in a bowl

Microwave for 3 minutes. When you open the microwave, the butter should look browned and have a nutty aroma. Let it cook longer if needed.

browned butter

*Mine took about 6 minutes total. The exact time will depend on your microwave and the type of bowls you are using.*

**Tip: If you are making less than 1 cup of browned butter, reduce the cooking time to 2 minutes to start.**

Can you brown butter in an Instant Pot?

I’ve seen quite a few recipes for making brown butter in the Instant Pot. “Just add butter and set for two minutes on high pressure!” is what the recipes stated.

Here’s what I found. This clarified the butter and separated the milk solids, but it did not make the butter brown nor did it give the butter that classic flavor.

And for that reason, we don’t recommend that method.

However, if you are Instant Pot crazy and like to use the “saute” setting, you can use that and make it similar to the stovetop method.

  • Cut butter into 1 tablespoon chunks.
  • Place the butter in the Instant Pot.
  • Set the IP to “Saute”.
  • Allow the butter to melt, stirring often so it melts evenly.
  • The butter will start to foam and bubble, get cloudy then clear, very similarly to when you make brown butter on the stove.
  • As soon as the butter is golden brown and smells caramely, remove the pot from the IP base and pour the butter into a clean jar or bowl. (The butter will continue to cook and possibly burn if you leave it in the IP too long so watch it closely.

We find we have to watch this IP method very closely since we can’t control the temperature of the “Saute” setting. If you choose this method, just watch it very, very closely.

browned butter chart

Can I make brown butter ahead of time?

Yes! This butter keeps well in the refrigerator. You can make browned butter up to 2 weeks in advance. Make sure it is stored in a sealed container.

Should you strain brown butter?

Straining browned butter is really a matter of preference. The dark solids are safe to eat but may have a slightly “burnt” flavor. They can add to the flavor, but if you don’t like them, you can leave them out.

To strain the butter, we often just pour the butter from the pan into a clean jar. As we do this, we try to keep as many solids out as possible. If a few get in, we’re ok with that.

If you want no solids in your butter, use a very fine strainer or even a cheesecloth and run the melted butter through to keep it pure.

Whether you strain the butter or not may depend on what you are making. If you don’t want the appearance of the dark flecks, you should strain the butter.

glasses of browned butter

How to store brown butter?

After the butter has cooled and solidified, you should store it in the refrigerator.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can you make brown butter with margarine? 

Margarine spreads are made up of all different types and combinations of water, fat and flavorings, so you will not get the same result with butter as you will brown butter. For the best flavor and texture, use real 100% butter.

Can you brown butter in a nonstick pan?

You can use an nonstick pan, but because of the dark surface it may be hard to tell when the butter solids have reached the correct dark color. For that reason, we recommend using a stainless steel or white pan.

Can you brown salted butter?

You can, but the salt will end up with the milk fat solids and might alter the flavor of the butter.

How long does it take butter to brown?

Browning butter takes only a few minutes! It is best to cook the butter over medium heat. You can turn the stovetop to high heat, but it is more likely that the little brown milk solids will burn at higher temperatures. 

Can you freeze brown butter?

Yes! Just as with regular butter, you can freeze browned butter for up to 4 months. This is a great way to plan ahead for holidays.

Recipes Using Browned Butter

How to Make Brown Butter
How to Make Brown Butter

How to Brown Butter

4.60 from 5 votes
Brown butter adds amazing rich flavor to both sweet and savory recipes. We're answering all of your questions on how to make brown butter and what to do with it after it is made.
Servings 32
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks)

Instructions
 

How to Make Brown Butter on the Stove:

  • Place a heavy bottomed saucepan on the stove.
  • Cut butter into 1 tablespoon chunks.
  • Place the butter in the saucepan and set the heat to medium.
  • Allow the butter to melt, stirring often so that it melts evenly.
  • As the butter melts it will start to bubble and "foam".
  • The butter will become cloudy.
  • Then as it continues to cook the butter will become clear.
  • At this point you'll see milk solids start to form on the bottom of the pan. As they turn golden brown, the butter will also turn to a golden color.
  • Butter is perfectly browned when it has a nutty, caramel aroma. As soon as you see the butter turn golden brown and smell nutty, take the pan off the heat and pour the clear browned butter into a clean jar or bowl.
  • If you'd like you can use a strainer or cheesecloth to strain any milk solids.
  • Use the melted butter right away or allow it to solidify. Refrigerate any leftovers.

How to Make Brown Butter in the Microwave:

  • Cut butter into 1 tablespoon chunks. (Use two sticks, or 1 cup, of butter. We find smaller amounts work best in the microwave.)
  • Place the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Make sure the bowl is large enough that the butter will not overflow while it cooks and bubbles up.
  • Place a microwave safe plate over the bowl.
  • Microwave for 3 minutes.
  • Open the microwave and look at the butter. Add more time if needed. The butter should have a nutty, caramely aroma as soon as you open the microwave. It should be golden brown with little brown specks (milk solids) on the bottom of the bowl.
  • Note: Ours takes almost 6 minutes to fully brown. The exact time will depend on the microwave you have and the bowls you are using. Be careful when removing the bowl from the microwave so you don't get burned.
  • Strain and store as described above.

How to Make Brown Butter in the Instant Pot:

  • Cut butter into 1 tablespoon chunks.
  • Place the butter in the Instant Pot.
  • Set the IP to "Saute".
  • Allow the butter to melt, stirring often so it melts evenly.
  • The butter will start to foam and bubble, get cloudy then clear, very similarly to when you make brown butter on the stove.
  • As soon as the butter is golden brown and smells caramely, remove the pot from the IP base and pour the butter into a clean jar or bowl. (The butter will continue to cook and possibly burn if you leave it in the IP too long so watch it closely.
  • We find we have to watch this IP method very closely since we can't control the temperature of the "Saute" setting.
  • Strain and store as described above.

Notes

The calories shown are based 1 serving being 1 tablespoon of butter. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 102kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 3mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Calcium: 3mg
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Calories 102
Keyword baking tips, browned butter
glasses of browned butter

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Saroj
2 years ago

Well done ladies enjoying every reciepies of urs tried all ur reciepies looking forward to new reciepies

Mae
2 years ago

5 stars
I love your recipes and I have loved everyone that I have trieds. Thank You so much.

Terry
2 years ago

Question: If I wanted to use brown butter in my regular cookie recipe and and it called for 1 cup of butter, would I still use only 1 cup to brown?

bunny
1 month ago

It’s much Safer, as well as much easier, to brown butter in the microwave. Stirring isn’t necessary, and you won’t get burns from spattering hot butter. 1-2 c. unsalted butter takes 3-6 m. on high in a microwave (check less than 1 c. after 2 m., and 2 c. after 3 m.) Some ovens take longer and others take less time. Once you’ve made browned butter in your microwave, you’ll know for the next time how long to set the timer, and walk away. To brown butter in the microwave: Slice butter into Tablespoon size slices and place in a… Read more »