How to Brown Butter + How to Use It

Ah, browned butter. How I love thee. Years ago when I first heard of the novelty of browned butter (yes, I know it’s been around forever but I’m often late to the party), I was skeptical it could really do much for me.

Plus I didn’t want to run the risk of burning it which seems to happen to a lot of people. Wasted, burnt butter is a very, very sad thing.

Finally, after suspecting I might be missing out on something big and wonderful, I put on my big girl apron and tried browning some butter.

That was ages ago and I can report that browning butter has made me an infinitely better person.

In some of my recipes, I refer to browning butter or offer in the notes that if you choose to brown the butter first, your life may not be the same. I get a lot of questions about how to brown butter and so I thought I’d show you how it’s done.

It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s incredible.

Basically what happens: butter is melted and simmered until the solids in the butter separate from the melted butter and it’s those little bits of buttery solids that give browned butter its uniquely flavorful taste.

Once it’s finished browning, you can use the nutty, caramelly stuff in everything from cookies to French toast to cakes to savory chicken dishes. I say this a lot but truly, the options are endless.

How to Brown Butter + How to Use It

First off, let’s talk about pans. If at all possible, you don’t want to use a dark-coated and/or nonstick pan.

Simply because it’s very difficult to tell when those butter solids have turned perfectly brown (versus perfectly burned). Instead, use a stainless steel or light-coated pan or pot.

How to Brown Butter + How to Use It

To brown that butter, simply add slabs of butter to your skillet or pan and set it over medium-low to medium heat. It’ll get nice and melty.
How to Brown Butter + How to Use It

Then, it begins to simmer and will get a little foamy on top.
How to Brown Butter + How to Use It

Moderate the heat so it’s not cooking at too high of a temperature. It’s waaaay better to work with low heat versus heat that’s going to kill the whole process.
How to Brown Butter + How to Use It

You’ll notice the butter solids starting to change color on the bottom of the pan. Use a heatproof spatula to slowly scrape the bottom of the skillet or pan so the butter browns evenly.

At this point, watch very carefully since the butter will often brown quite quickly. This is not the time to go paint your toenails.
How to Brown Butter + How to Use It

Right about the time the little bits turn evenly golden, pull the pan off the heat so the solids don’t continue to cook and turn black. Black butter = icky. Browned butter = divine.
How to Brown Butter + How to Use It

And now.

Use it. Slather it. Eat it. Love it.

How to Use Browned Butter

You can use browned butter in just about anything but the distinctive flavor really comes through in baked goods and dishes that aren’t overpowered by more dominant ingredients.

For instance, I, personally, don’t waste browned butter in a brownie or chocolate cake recipe. You can barely tell it’s there with all the chocolate. But in a chocolate chip cookie? Banana bread loaf? Frosting? Sauces? It’s tremendous.

In recipes that call for softened, unmelted butter, I brown the butter, pour it into a bowl or jar and pop it into the fridge until it’s cooled and firmed up a bit, similar to the consistency of butter you’d soften for cookies.

For recipes that call for melted butter – well, that’s easy. Use right after making or according to the recipe you are using it in, or simply store in the refrigerator until ready to use and melt again over low heat.

Here are a few recipes that are happier with browned butter:
Magical Layered Brownies with Browned Butter Frosting
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Green Lentil Soup with Curried Browned Butter
Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Sage Browned Butter
Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars
Buttermilk Banana Bread
Sour Cream Muffins (replacing the coconut oil with butter)

If I’m being totally honest, I keep a tub of browned butter in my fridge nearly at all times to use anytime I get a hankering for browned butter which happens more often than one would think. Also, if you are a rice krispie treat fan, you must try making them sometime with browned butter and a splash of vanilla. Gourmet reinvented.

Prepare yourself. I’ll be sharing two recipes in the next few weeks that call for browned butter and without {too much} exaggeration I’m telling you: your life will be changed.

How to Brown Butter + How to Use It