Basic Techniques: How to Brown Butter

published Feb 20, 2009
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Brown butter is one of those magical secret ingredients that just seems to enhance the flavor of just about anything – sweet or savory. It has a rich nutty taste and the aroma is out of this world. Even better, it’s a snap to make…

To make brown butter (also called beurre noisette), simply start melting butter over medium heat. Use a pan with a light-colored bottom so you can keep track of the color. Swirl the pan occasionally to be sure the butter is cooking evenly.

As the butter melts, it will begin to foam. The color will progress from lemony-yellow to golden-tan to, finally, a toasty-brown. Once you smell that nutty aroma, take the pan off the heat and transfer the browned butter into a heat-proof bowl to cool.

The milk solids will cook faster and you’ll see them settle on the bottom of the pan like the dregs in a bottle of wine. When you transfer the brown butter to a new container, try to leave as much of this sediment in the pan as possible. You can also strain the butter through a fine meshed strainer or cheese cloth to remove all the particles.

Then again, some people like slightly burnt taste these solids give to the butter! Try it both ways to see what you like.

It’s easy enough to brown just what you need for your recipe, but you can also brown large batches of butter at a single time. It keeps for quite a while in the fridge, or you can freeze it in ice cube trays.

You can use brown butter in just about any recipe that calls for butter, including cookies, cakes, or sauces. We love spooning a little bit over pasta, fish dishes, or even steamed vegetables. It also makes an excellent spread for dinner rolls when whipped together with regular butter!

How do you like to use brown butter?

(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)