You’ll want to save this easy brown butter recipe—it’s sweet, nutty, and perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Happy cooking!
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What is brown butter?
Brown butter is made by cooking butter until it becomes nutty, toasty, and caramelized. It has a very distinct flavor in comparison to regular butter—it’s richer with a taste similar to a light toffee. It can replace plain butter in both savory and sweet dishes, elevating any dish.
And the best part? It only takes about 5 minutes to make.
In this post, I’ll explain how to make brown butter at home, some tips, and how to store it. Plus, I’ll link a few of my recipes that use this amazing ingredient.
So, keep reading to learn about this brown butter recipe!
Equipment & ingredients
Browning butter is super simple and only requires a few pieces of equipment:
- Light-colored pan: I highly recommend browning butter in a light-colored pan (stainless steel or light enameled pan), so you can see the milk solids caramelize. It can be difficult to see the brown specks in a darker pan, which can yield to burnt brown butter.
- Wooden or silicone spatula: As you’re browning butter, you’ll need to stir and scrape the bottom of the pan so it doesn’t burn.
- Heatproof bowl: As soon as the butter turns into a deep golden brown color, transfer it to a heatproof bowl. This prevents it from continuing to cook in the pan and burning.
- Butter: Unsalted or salted butter work fine here! I prefer to use unsalted butter because I like to control how much salt is in my baked goods.
How to make brown butter
Note: I made a double batch of brown butter, which is why there are a lot of butter slices in the pan! 🙂
- Cut butter into tablespoons: This step will help you melt the butter more evenly, especially if you are doing large batches.
- Melt over medium heat: Allow the butter to melt, stirring frequently. The butter will become foamy, then will slightly subside. The color will turn from yellow to golden brown, with brown bits starting to form at the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring, often scraping the bottom of the pan so the brown specks don’t burn. It will smell nutty, toasty, and sweet. Once you reach the point where the butter is a deep golden brown color, remove the pan from heat.
- Immediately transfer to heatproof bowl: Transfer the browned butter into a heatproof bowl, scraping all of the brown bits. And that’s it! You can use as is or store it.
- Store: Once the brown butter is cooled, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
- Use a light-colored pan: It’s really important to keep an eye on the brown specks that form while browning butter. So, I recommend using a light-colored one, like stainless steel or a light-colored enameled cast iron pan.
- Keep stirring the melted butter: This will ensure the caramelized milk solids don’t overcook and burn at the bottom of the pan.
My cookie recipes using brown butter
- Brown butter espresso cookies
- Cinnamon brown butter shortbread cookies
- Brown butter kitchen sink cookies
How to store brown butter
If you’re not using the brown butter immediately, you can save it for future use! I actually make a bunch of brown butter at once and keep it handy, since I go through it pretty often. So, here’s how you can store it.
Once the brown butter is cooled, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
You can use the solid brown butter as is, let it come to room temperature for softened brown butter, or even re-melt it. If using from frozen, let thaw at room temperature for 1-2 hours or in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, break into chunks and heat it in the microwave, stirring every 15-30 seconds. Simply treat it as if was regular butter!
The butter will have many brown specks, which are the caramelized milk solids. The liquid itself will be a deep golden brown color.
The caramelized milk solids would turn from brown to black and smell bitter. Overall, the liquid will be a very dark color. Unfortunately, there is no saving it and you would have to restart.
I have a few recipes listing brown butter as an ingredient, like my brown butter espresso cookies, brown butter kitchen sink cookies, and cinnamon brown butter shortbread. You can also use it in savory applications like dressings or sauces.
You can use it to replace regular butter in other recipes. However, browning 1 stick of butter (113g) will yield about 80g of brown butter, so there is a loss of about 2 tbsp. To make up for the lost liquid, you can brown 1 stick + 2 tbsp of butter, or replace the lost 2 tbsp with milk or water, depending on the recipe.
Easy Brown Butter Recipe
- light-colored pan, I used stainless steel
- silicone spatula or wooden spatula
- heatproof bowl
- 1 stick butter, cut into tablespoons (8 tbsp/113g)
- Make sure you have your heatproof bowl ready! Browning butter can go from 0 to 100 reaaally quickly, aka it's easy to burn it if you keep your eyes off of it. So, have the bowl handy so you can transfer the finished brown butter to it ASAP.
- Add all of the sliced butter into your pan over a stovetop. Turn the heat to medium and stir frequently with your silicone spatula. First, the butter will melt, then it will start to foam. Soon, the bubbles will subside and brown bits will start to form at the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring, often scraping the bottom, until the butter is deep golden brown and there are a bunch of brown specks. It should smell nutty, toasty, and sweet.
- Immediately transfer the brown butter to your heatproof bowl. This prevents the butter from continuing to cook in the pan and burn.
- Depending on the recipe you are using the brown butter for, you can use it immediately, let it cool, or refrigerate/freeze for later use.