How to 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.
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.
Even better, it only takes a few minutes to make! Here’s everything you need to know to make brown butter…
What Is Brown Butter?
Brown butter (beurre 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.
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 Make Brown Butter, Step By Step:
- Add butter to the saucepan or a skillet (preferably one with a heavy bottom)
- 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!)
- 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.) Pay attention to how the butter looks and smells here, as it can go from browned to burned fairly quickly.
- 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 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.
- Use right away or refrigerate to use later!
PRO TIP: 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.
Yummy Ways to Use Brown Butter (sweet & savory!):
- Add to baked goods that call for melted butter. The caramel-y notes will be lovely!
- Use for Gluten-Free Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Add to Gluten-Free Brown Butter Brownies
- Mix into savory dishes, like vegetables, mashed potatoes, or pan sauces with herbs.
- Use in pancakes, muffins, or waffles, especially anything with warm flavors, like pumpkin, apple, banana, or cinnamon.
- Add to granola or oatmeal.
- Pour over popcorn instead of regular melted butter. It’s unbelievable!
- Stir into pasta with sage.
- Serve over steak, scallops, or fish.
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Brown Butter:
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.
- 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.
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. They aren’t a bad thing! As long as they’re still a deep golden brown (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 specifically called for, 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!