How to Brown Butter (easy step-by-step tutorial)

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Let’s make Brown Butter! If you’ve ever wondered how to make brown butter, you’re in luck! It’s EASY and adds gorgeous flavor to so many recipes.

How to Make Brown Butter (Easy Step-By-Step Tutorial)

Welcome to our Be A Better Baker series! In this series of baking tutorials, I’ll teach you foundational skills of becoming a better home baker, plus introduce you to fun techniques, baking secrets, and quick tips that’ll help you around the kitchen.

Our first tutorial is all about how to brown butter. And boy are you in luck, because browned butter is one of the most delicious things on this planet. It adds a caramelly, nutty flavor to brownies, cookies, rice krispies treats and more. It’s basically liquid gold!

Even better, it only takes a few minutes to make, and our step-by-step tutorial will walk you through the whole process. Let’s dive in!

How to Brown Butter (Step-by-Step Tutorial)

What Is Brown Butter?

Brown butter (buerre noisette) is simply butter that’s gone through a sort of caramelization process. It gets its signature color and flavor by gently melting the butter until the solids in the butter caramelize and brown.

So what makes brown butter different from regular butter? During the cooking process, the butter fat separates from the milk solids, excess water evaporates, and the milk solids will caramelize/brown. (This browning process is known as the Maillard reaction.)

What Does Brown Butter Taste Like?

I’ve often heard browned butter described as tasting nutty, but to me it’s a lot more like caramel. It’s got deep, sweet almost brown sugar-like notes that make it a delicious addition to sweet or savory recipes.

How to Brown Butter (Step-by-Step Tutorial)

How To Make Brown Butter, Step By Step

As always you can get the full recipe, including ingredient amounts, step-by-step instructions, and notes in the recipe card below!

  1. Add butter to the saucepan or a skillet (preferably one with a heavy bottom)
  2. Whisking or stirring continuously, melt the butter over medium or medium-low (depending on how hot your stove runs–you don’t want it to burn!)
  3. Once the butter is melted, continue stirring. After 6-8 minutes, the butter will begin to foam and bubble. (The exact time will vary based on how much butter your browning.) Keep a close eye on how the butter looks and smells here, as it can go from browned to burned fairly quickly.
  4. When the butter looks deeply golden and you can see that the butter solids are starting to brown, remove the pan from the heat.
  5. The butter will continue cooking in the hot pan, so transfer it to a bowl to cool down or pull it off the heat a minute before you think it’s fully done.
  6. Use right away or refrigerate to use later!

PRO TIP: For best results, use a light colored pan (like light colored stainless steel or a white enamel pan) to make it easier to tell when your butter has browned. Using a dark pan will make judging the color difficult.

How do you know if butter is brown?

A few things to really pay attention to here are the look, smell, and taste.

  • LOOK: The butter will foam slightly on top, and after a few minutes of foaming, you’ll notice that the butter underneath has a deeper more golden, almost honey-colored tone. (Like a deep amber color!)
  • SMELL: It should smell slightly sweet and fragrant. It won’t smell like movie theater popcorn butter any more. Instead, it’ll have sweeter notes, almost like brown sugar or caramel.
  • TASTE: If you carefully taste a tiny bit (it’s hot!), you’ll taste caramel-y or nutty notes.
How to Brown Butter (Step-by-Step Tutorial)

Yummy Ways to Use Brown Butter (sweet & savory!)

The best part of brown butter is definitely using it! The rich flavor of nutty brown butter can be used in savory AND sweet applications. (Though, I’ll be honest: we’re biased toward sweets and dessert recipes here!)

How to Make Brown Butter (Easy Step-By-Step Tutorial)

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Brown Butter:

Can You refrigerate Brown Butter?

Yes! Brown butter can be refrigerated. Because of its structure, just know that it will solidify in the refrigerator. You can then use it solid, or you can melt it back down over low heat as needed later. Brown butter will last at least 1 week in the refrigerator. (Some folks claim it’ll keep 2-4 weeks, but I’m always one to play it safe.)

Can You Substitute Brown Butter With Anything?

Structurally, you can substitute melted butter for brown butter in batters and doughs that call for brown butter. But from a flavor perspective, you will definitely lose the caramel-y flavor by substituting regular butter. (In recipes that also have brown sugar, consider using dark brown sugar instead of light brown for a deeper flavor.)

What Are Those Brown Flecks At The Bottom Of Brown Butter? Are They Bad?

The flecks, or almost sediment-like specks you might see at the bottom as your brown butter cools are caramelized milk solids. These browned bits aren’t a bad thing! As long as they’re still a deep golden brown color (and not black!) and the butter tastes sweet and nutty, you haven’t burned it and it’s just fine! That said…

Do You Have to Strain Brown Butter?

Some recipes call for brown butter to be strained to remove any stray brown flecks. This is mostly for presentation. Unless your recipe calls specifically for you to strain it, you don’t have to strain brown butter to use it. (I never ever do!) I love the look. If you don’t, feel free to strain it before using!

How to Make Brown Butter (Easy Step-By-Step Tutorial)

More Baking Tips To Try

🌟 Did you try it? Leave a star rating below when you try our Brown Butter recipe. We can’t wait to hear how it goes!

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Close up overhead view of browned butter in a white saucepan

How to Brown Butter (easy tutorial)


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  • Author: Sweets & Thank You
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 cup browned butter 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free
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Description

If you’ve ever wondered how to make brown butter, you’re in luck! It’s EASY and adds gorgeous flavor to so many recipes. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup butter (more or less, as called for in your recipe)
  • Light-colored saucepan (It’ll be easier to see the color of the butter in a light-colored pan) 
  • Whisk

Instructions

  1. Add butter to the saucepan or a skillet (preferably one with a heavy bottom)
  2. Whisking or stirring continuously, melt the butter over medium or medium-low (depending on how hot your stove runs–you don’t want it to burn!)
  3. Once the butter is melted, continue stirring. After 6-8 minutes, the butter will begin to foam and bubble. Pay attention to how the butter looks and smells here, as it can go from browned to burned fairly quickly.
  4. When the butter looks deeply golden and you can see that the butter solids are starting to brown, remove the pan from the heat. (The butter will continue cooking in withe residual heat of the hot pan, so transfer it to a heatproof bowl to cool down or pull it off the heat a minute before you think it’s fully done.) 
  5. Use right away or refrigerate to use later! Brown butter will keep in an airtight container in the fridge up to 2 weeks. (No need to strain out the little brown bits, unless your recipe calls for it.)

Notes

To know that the butter is ready, pay attention to the look, smell, and taste:

  • LOOK: The butter will foam slightly on top, and after a few minutes of foaming, you’ll notice that the butter underneath has a deeper more golden, almost honey-colored tone.
  • SMELL: It should smell slightly sweet and fragrant. It won’t smell like movie theater popcorn butter any more. Instead, it’ll have sweeter notes, almost like brown sugar or caramel.
  • TASTE: If you carefully taste a tiny bit (it’s hot!), you’ll taste caramel-y or nutty notes. 
  • Prep Time: 1 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Category: Tutorial
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French
Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

6 Comments

  1. I have a delicious recipe for gingerbread cookies frosted with icing made with burnt or brown butter. So yummy for the holidays!

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