How to Make Brown Butter

by Beth - Budget Bytes
Step by Step

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As I mentioned in my recipe for Maple Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes, using brown butter is like taking a magic wand to your recipe and adding that special je ne sais quoi that takes it from good to spectacular. And the best part is that it doesn’t require any fancy tools or special ingredients. Just the regular butter you have in your fridge plus a few minutes in a skillet and you have a deliciously deep, nutty butter that you won’t be able to get enough of. 

How to Make Brown Butter

Brown Butter in a skillet, with "brown butter" text overlay

I wanted to do a separate tutorial on how to make brown butter so that you can get all the details and see just how easy it is. Plus, I’ve got a few suggestions on how to use your brown butter to get your creative wheels spinning. Seriously, you can add it to just about anything. Since I’m just getting started on my brown butter journey, here are a few excellent examples of how to use brown butter from other bloggers:

Now read back over that list but skip the “brown butter” in the description. Not nearly as amazing sounding, right? I’m telling you, brown butter makes a recipe.

The process is incredibly simple, so let’s go!

Step by Step Photos

Pats of Butter in the skillet, beginning to melt

Start by adding several pats of butter to a light-colored skillet. Avoid dark surfaces, like cast iron or teflon because it’s hard to see the butter change color. Try to cut the butter into equal sized pieces so they melt at an equal rate. Heat the butter over medium-low heat. You can use salted or unsalted butter, depending on your need. Just be aware that salted butter will taste slightly more salty once finished. And it’s never a bad idea to brown a little extra, ‘cuz you can totally store it in the fridge and use it on other things.

Foamy melted butter in the skillet

As the butter begins to heat and sizzle it will become foamy. Stir the butter often as it cooks.

Melted butter in the skillet, an arrow pointing at butter solids beginning to turn golden brown

You’ll notice the butter solids (proteins) begin to settle to the bottom of the skillet and after a couple minutes the solids will just begin to get a hint of color. Once you see this slightly golden color, it’s time to pay close attention because they’ll begin to brown quickly. Cooking the butter at a lower temperature slows the browning process down, so I suggest brown butter newbies to go low and slow. If you’re an old pro you can do this over medium heat or maybe even slightly higher and have your brown butter in the blink of an eye.

Golden brown butter solids in the skillet full of melted butter, foam is subsiding.

Because the color develops quickly, you’ll want to stir very often to prevent hot spots from browning the butter unevenly. The foam will also begin to subside as it cooks.

Deep Golden Butter solids, no more foam on melted butter

There are different levels of brown butter. Some people like it light, some like it almost black (The French actually have a name for that–beurre noir). Once it gets to this medium brown color you’ll begin to smell the wonderful nuttiness. It smells like a mix between caramel and toasted nuts. YUM! But I want to go a bit further…

Fully Browned Butter in the skillet, caramel color

This deep golden color is where I like to stop. Deep, nutty, and rich. The amount of time it takes your butter to get to this point depends entirely on the heat level, but on medium-low it took me about 4-5 minutes. It’s relatively quick either way. Once browned you’ll want to transfer it to another container immediately to prevent the residual heat from the skillet browning it any further.

Brown Butter in the skillet Close Up

As you pour the brown butter into a different container, try to leave those solids in the skillet. If you end up cooking with the butter, the solids will brown further and may easily burn. The golden liquid that is poured off the top is what you want, and it can be stored in the refrigerator and used as needed, just as you would ghee. 

What is your favorite way to use brown butter? Let us know in the comments below so we can all hop on the brown butter train!

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  1. But how do you pour the brown butter into another container  without pouring the solids as well? What’s the technique or cooking tool needed?

    1. Hi Jean!! You def don’t want to separate the brown solids! That’s where all the flavor is. Keep them in! XOXO -Monti

  2. My neighbors, who are Mennonite’s and who I get my produce from told me she likes to use Brown butter in her canning jars of green beans.
    To be honest I have never heard of brown butter until she mentioned it. So I had to look it up. I am intrigued to say the least. Definitely going to try this.

  3. If you wanted to add an herb (like thyme), when would you recommend adding it to the butter so it infuses it but doesn’t burn the thyme?

    1. Hmm, it’s tough to say without testing it first. I’d probably try adding it into the hot butter after removing it from the heat and just letting it infuse in the butter as it cools first to see how that goes.

  4. Ok….so this isn’t about your food recipes because they are phenomenally delicious….but I gotta say that the ads surrounding your recipes (which I have no idea if you have ever seen them or if you choose them, or if  you get paid for them.)
    They are kinda nauseous and when I see them and it makes me no longer wanna make your recipe.
    The ones that were chosen to be here between the lines of your browned butter recipe were:
    1. An ad for dentures showing an open mouth.
    2. An ad for a medication to get rid of a rash. 
    3. An ad for some type of powder to put in a foot bath to remove toxins from the body.
     These are pretty disgusting and make me feel like not looking at your website anymore. I’m hoping that you will check into it cause I’m sure I’m not the only person who loves your recipes but hates the repulsive ads.

    1. Thanks for that feedback! No, I hadn’t seen those and I don’t get to choose the individual ads, but I can definitely double check to make sure we have certain categories blocked to prevent that type from showing because I definitely agree that it’s disgusting! 😣

  5. Hello, thanks for the helpful tutorial. I used it (brown butter) in a confectioners sugar frosting for a banana cake in lieu of the usual cream cheese frosting. A family member does not like cream cheese and this was a good substitute. I actually liked it better. It added an extra layer of flavor that was so good!

  6. I pan fried catfish with a very thin coating of flour seasoned with Cajun seasonings. When done I took the brown butter while style warm but not super hot n added a little cream like three tablespoons. Poured this sauce over the catfish and garnished with parsley. It was very good. 

  7. I’m just new to brown buttering, I hope to be as good as everyone else here. I want to brown of butter to make a brown butter garlic pasta. I’ve been craving this😁

  8. This is a very good recipe for any cook to know. One of my favorite pasta dishes is made with browned butter and cheese. The browned butter add so much depth. It really doesn’t need meat or anything else.

  9. I made this brown butter as a sauce with fresh sage, garlic, few dried red pepper flake, and finely chopped walnuts sauce on ricotta spinach ravioli. Sprinkled a really good parmesan on top and mixed some fresh some arugula from my garden for in with the ravioli some color. It was one of the best dishes I’ve ever made. (And I’ve taken multiple cooking classes, etc. been at it for a while.) My first brown butter experience. Won’t be the last.

  10. Just tried this to make brown butter rice krispy treats – turned out PERFECT! Your pictures and instructions were very thorough (as always), and helped give me confidence that I wouldn’t burn the butter. My kitchen still smells heavenly from the brown butter. THANK YOU!

  11. I like to make brown butter then throw it in the fridge making my own little personal brown butter ration… Smear it on a bagel with some creamy honey. OMG, you wont look back ever again.

  12. Browned butter bread crumbs to top off perogies. Once your butter is browned you stir in plain breadcrumbs. Serve on top of perogies. Your welcome. :)