A little bird once told me that a certain Vancouver-based yoga pants company likes to ask challenging and creative questions during their interviews. One of these questions was “Describe a time you experienced a happy accident”. At the time that I heard of this interview question, I’d have had no idea how to answer it, and likely would have cried. Now, however, I totally have the best answer ever, and it’s my discovery of how to make Brown Butter Ghee.
I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a lazy cook. I don’t really like measuring, and often I’ll go and lay down or watch TV or a YouTube video while something’s on the stove or in the oven. (I don’t recommend doing this by the way, as it can totally burn your house down. My apartment is so tiny that regardless of what room I’m in, I’m always 4 feet from the stove, so even if something got serious, I could take care of it right away.)
I’m just not the kind of person who obsessively watches over something as it cooks, only to find that perfect point to remove it and halt the cooking process. Yes, this has landed me in trouble a number of times, and I’ve burnt my fair share of meals. I’ve learned that kitchen timers are my friend, as I can walk away, start to do something else, and then get beeped back into my cooking just in time to save my culinary masterpiece from becoming charred.
However, on this one fateful day when I became overcome with a desire to make ghee for the first time, I absent-mindedly forgot to set my kitchen timer before I walked away to go check my computer at the kitchen table. Immersed in what I was doing (most likely updating this website), I forgot all about my ghee simmering away on the stove. After several minutes, my kitchen began fill with a nutty fragrance, which prompted me back to my awareness of my kitchen duties.
I dashed to the stove, only to find my pot was not filled with the clear yellow oil of ghee, but instead the oil had turned a dark amber. Shit! I thought I totally burnt the oil, and I’d have to try again, this time paying much closer attention. However, my nose seemed to be telling a different story.
The fragrance of the oil was sweet, and caramel-like. Could it be I just had my happy accident? I had to put this to the test of another sense, so I grabbed a spoon, and dipped it into my caramel-butter-oil, let it cool, and then tasted the ghee. Holy smokes, it tasted like candy!
Since then I’ve intentionally made brown butter ghee a number of times. Like I’m slightly obsessed with it, and I put it in everything! A tablespoon goes into my Fattee Coffee every morning, it works perfectly for making chocolate fat bombs, and I put it in my pumpkin hemp porridge to make it extra rich as well. (Recipes coming soon!)
Why Ghee or Brown Butter Ghee?
I love butter, but if you’re like me and have trouble with acne, you possibly have a sensitivity to dairy. I personally try to avoid it the best I can, as I notice a significant improvement in my skin when I don’t eat it. When I do want to indulge in a buttery flavour, I’ll opt for ghee over butter. Yes, ghee is technically butter, but it has been clarified, or cooked to the point that the milk solids separate from the oil, and then are removed.
To get the most nutritional benefit from my brown butter ghee, I always ensure that I use butter from grass-fed cows. If you’re looking to increase your dietary fat but are avoiding dairy, then ghee is a great option for you as it has many of the same benefits as butter (when it comes from grass-fed cows), as it contains:
- CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, which helps reduce belly fat, protect against cancer and encourage muscle growth
- Vitamin K2, which is an important fat-soluble nutrient required for healthy teeth.
- Vitamin A to help maintain thyroid, adrenal and cardiovascular health
- Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that helps fight inflammation in the body.
In addition to the nutritional benefits, regular ghee has a much deeper, richer flavour than butter. Also, because it has the milk solids removed, it also has a higher smoke point, making it a great fat choice for higher-heat cooking.
On to the recipe…
Making ghee is super easy to do, all it requires is some patience, and a watchful eye (I’ve become a lot more attentive to my ghee when I make it despite my laissez faire attitude the first time I made it.) Read on if you want some step-by-step instructions on how to make some liquid gold ghee in your own kitchen.
I want to note that these instructions can be followed to make clarified butter, regular ghee, and my “happy-accident” brown butter ghee.
Supplies you’ll need:
- Grass-fed butter
- Heavy bottom sauce pan
- Cheese cloth
- Fine mesh strainer
- Glass jars for storage
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s really important to use grass-fed butter to make your ghee. I really like the butter by Rolling Meadow Dairy (yay, happy cows!) It’s really easy for me to get my paws on as my local Whole Foods is now carrying it, so I’d recommend checking with the Whole Foods nearest you to see if they carry it as well or can recommend an alternative. If you’re in the States, Kerry Gold butter is another good option for easy to find grass-fed butter.
Step 2: Cut your butter up into chunks, and add them to a heavy-bottom sauce pan. Set your stove to medium-heat, and begin to melt your butter. Give it a little stir if you want it to melt faster.
Step 3: Once your butter has completely melted, you want to bring it to a slight simmer. It will begin to foam.
Step 4: After around 15-20 minutes, the foam will start to dissipate, and you’ll begin to notice that the fat is starting to become clear. At this point the milk solids will start to slowly sink to the bottom of the sauce pan.
Step 5: Eventually you may find that your ghee no longer has any foam on top.
Step 6: After a few minutes, your ghee will begin to bubble and foam again. I take this as a sign that the milk solids have all sunk to the bottom of the pan and the water is now evaporating off of the butter. This is where you get to choose your own adventure…do you want to stop here and make clarified butter? Or continue on and make ghee, or brown butter ghee?
To make clarified butter: At this point, you need to be extra careful to make sure that the milk solids at the bottom of the pan do not begin to brown. Remove your pan from the heat, and use a spoon to remove the foam from the top of the oil. Then, using a cheese cloth and fine sieve strainer to catch the milk solids, pour the oil into a clean glass jar for storage.
To make ghee: Ghee is very similar to clarified butter, but the key difference is that clarified butter is cooked to the point where the water evaporates and the milk solids separate and sink, and ghee is cooked for a few minutes longer so that the milk solids begin to caramelize. As the butter is in it’s second foam, stir the butter to help the milk solids at the bottom cook and caramelize evenly.
Once the milk solids have reached a nice light brown colour, and the butter fat is still a rich-yellow, it’s time to strain off the milk solids. Using a cheese cloth and fine sieve strainer to catch the milk solids, pour the ghee through the sieve and into a clean glass jar. Let the ghee cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge.
Note: I’ve read other sites that say you can store ghee outside of the fridge, however I tend to use unsalted butter, and I found that my first batch of regular ghee that I made actually started to get mouldy when I left it on the counter. So I’d recommend that if you’re using unsalted butter that you keep your ghee stored in the refrigerator.
To Make Brown Butter Ghee: Brown butter is the ghee that happens right before the butter begins to burn. I got lucky the first time I made this stuff because even though I wasn’t paying attention, I was able to catch it right before it hit that burning point and turned black. So I warn you if you’re attempting to make this caramel-goodness to watch it carefully.
You’re going to want to continue to cook the butter until the fat turns a deep amber brown and your kitchen smells like a candy factory. Remove the ghee from the stove, and strain it through a cheese cloth and fine-mesh strainer into a clean jar to catch the caramelized milk solids at the bottom.
Check out all those milk solids!
Look at that sexy colour! I promise you, once you get this recipe down you’re not going to be able to stop making and eating this brown butter ghee!
Did you try making this ghee? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences making this recipe, so please let me know in the comments below how you got along with this tutorial.
Brown Butter Ghee
- 1 pound of Grass-fed butter unsalted
Cut butter into small chunks.
Add chunks of butter to a small saucepan. Over medium heat, melt the butter until a foam begins to form on the surface.
Reduce heat, so that butter reaches a slight simmer, and cook for 15-25 minutes. In this time frame the butter will start to go clear, and the milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan. The butter may stop foaming, and then re-foam for a second time. This indicates you're getting close!
Stir the butter to help the milk solids at the bottom to cook. The milk solids will begin to brown, and caramelize.
Once the butter fat has turned from a rich-yellow, to a dark amber, remove the pan from the heat.
Strain the fat through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth into a glass jar. Allow the oil to come to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.
Brown Butter Ghee can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 month, but I'm going to bet you eat this baby right up before then because it's so damn good!
Happy accident indeed! I just had mine, but it would have remained an unhappy one if I had not found this post! Yayyyyy!
I did this by accident the first time as well. Then I went online and looked at all kinds of information about cooking temperatures for butter, clarification, making ghee, brown butter, etc. That was near the start of the year. as I was going to make another batch, and wanted to hit this somewhere between brown butter and ghee again, I googled and found your article. Kudos. Your article seems better written, and easier to read, especially in distinguishing the subtle differences between clarified butter, ghee, brown ghee, and brown butter. Very nice. A great article I will share.
Thanks, David, I appreciate your kind words and I’m happy you found it helpful 🙂
My favorite. I did it the same way you did and it is one our mainstays for oil. I use a drip coffee cone and made cotton liners. Works great to strain out the milk solids. I wash the cotton and reuse. It’s not as messy as cheesecloth.
Jamie, that is genius! I’m totally going to try the cotton-liner cones as an alternative. Thank you so much for the tip 🙂
Yesterday I tried to make ghee in a crockpot for the first time… and fell asleep… and woke to an amazing smell. It was totally brown and a ton of milk solids had precipitated. It tastes great! I’m glad to find that brown ghee is a “thing!” Thanks for the post! 🙂 I used salted Kerrygold butter. It surprised me that the salt precipitated out with the proteins – an unexpected benefit as I hadn’t meant to buy salted butter for the ghee!
Accidentally made brown butter ghee today! Was googling to find out if I ruined it and it sounds like I didn’t!! It smells heavenly in my kitchen and I’m excited to us it in blended bulletproof coffee!!!
I set out to make clarified butter, but ended up making brown butter ghee. When I began to smell a nutty aroma, I thought I had burned it and immediately removed it from the stove. I seperated the solids and ended up with an amber color (not knowing it was referred to as brown butter ghee). Nice to know. Now all I have to do is find recipes for it.
I love making this!! Every time varies in time it takes. Wondering if it is atmospherical!? I adore the smell!!! I use kerrygold salted with no issues. I sent this out to all my friends who are paleo/keto. THANK YOU for posting!!
Making my own has saved me a fortune over purchasing from Tin Star!!!
A note to remember, only use metal or cloth for straining…my daughter used plastic and the whole thing melted!!! My poor girl!!
Hi Lori, You’re so welcome! That’s a great reminder about the metal strainer. How devastating for your daughter to lose her brown buttered ghee to melted plastic! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Thats how Yemenis make their ghee, its so good!
I accidentally made brown butter ghee today, and I searched online to see if I ruined everything. Thank goodness it is still edible! I cooked scrambled eggs with it, and ooooo did it smell heavenly on the pan. The butter cost about $6 – No more spending $$$ on store bought ghee!
Same happy accident today which is why I found this site. I was trying to figure out what I did wrong. Glad to hear it’s okay to use because it does smell sooo good!
Utter heaven. I had the same happy accident.
I tend to over heat the butter often when I make ghee! I thought golden yellow ghee was the ideal and had been throwing out the brown ghee or use some of it it as a moisturizer on my skin until I read your blog! I am keeping this one that I overdid and giving it a try! It is a beautiful amber color and I did not smell it burning. So I know it will be good!
Yep, found this site to make sure it’s still right- though personally it smells tastes better to me than regular ghee so I was going to eat it regardless. Happy accident brown butter ghee like most of these commenters!
I’ve been making brown butter ghee for decades. However, the milk solids tend to thicken and stay on the surface. As a result I skim them off with a spoon, and end up losing some of the good stuff. Any tips?
Also, have you ever had the ghee over-cook so much that it turned to an inedible liquid oil? Thanks!
Hey Kalyn, I personally haven’t encountered what you described, but I would try using a fine sieve to skim the solids from the surface while leaving all the yummy oil behind. And to your second question, I haven’t let mine go so long so that it becomes inedible – sorry I can’t help on that front. xx
So glad I found your post. I too was making ghee with Kerrygold today and happened to find it had turned amber. That’s when I starting looking online if it was still good or not. Thank goodness others have experienced this and my two packages of expensive butter will not have to be tossed. Signed = Gratefull.
You’re welcome! I’m happy I was able to help bring you a sense of relief 😉
I left my butter in the crockpot all night! after already cooking it a couple hours (luckily on low heat at least). My husband said it smelled like caramel in the morning. I strined it and went looking to see if it wa still good to use and found this. Yay! Thanks.
I have a dairy allergy and my doctor suggested I try ghee to see how my body reacted instead of using a vegan butter substitute. I tried it and had no major reaction so I switched to using it pretty exclusively since…… YUM! But it does get expensive and during our COVID-19 crisis, it’s hard to get it easily. So I decided to try my hand at making it myself. I ended up with a butterscotch scented brown butter ghee. It smells amazing, but is cloudy after I refrigerated it over night. I can skim off the top (since I didn’t fully skim the bubbles off the top before pouring it into my jar) but I am worried about milk solids. Since I did strain off the solids that fell to the bottom of the pan, will this brown butter ghee be safe for me to eat? I did an extensive search online and other sites mentioned that brown butter isn’t clarified and still contains the milk solids. Any insight would be helpful. I would prefer to not throw this out, but want to stay safe. Thanks in advanced!
I love that your doctor has advocated for ghee, over a processed butter alternative! That’s very progressive! I’ve personally found in my own experience that both my homemade and store-bought ghee goes cloudy in the fridge as well. I can’t say for sure whether or not yours will cause a reaction for you, but maybe just try with a small amount as a test – now I say this assuming that your typical reaction to dairy is not anaphylactic. There is always a risk to not getting all of the milk solids out through straining, so I think it really comes down to your personal risk tolerance, and what your normal reactions would be in the event you do accidentally ingest a small amount of dairy.
I have at times varied from ghee to dark brown liquid which is wonderful . BUT I will say for those who ask about the milk foam floating on top. Once you turn off the heat and let it sit for a while, you will also be able to strain that off. No need to skim the foam!!! It ends up on top of the cheesecloth.
Your ghee gets moldy when left outside the refrigerator because not all the moisture has evaporated from the fat/butter. You may want to cook the butter on low flame for longer periods and the milk solids to turn light to medium brown.
I store my ghee on the counter or in the pantry in an air tight glass container for more than 6 months with no mold at all. My grandma used to have cow milk ghee that was decades old for medicinal purposes.
I’m so relieved to find this post! I was pretty sure I’d ruined the ghee on my first attempt. It went from golden to amber in the blink of an eye and the foam never cleared away as I was expecting. But it smells like praline candy and this post gave me the courage to try using it. It already added richness to soup. I can’t wait to use it in other things.
Ghee should actually be stored at room temperature if you are making it for health benefits. You should always use a new spoon to retrieve the ghee from it and never dip into something else and dip back into the ghee and as long as you do this, there will not be any mold.