Brown butter adds rich nutty and caramel notes to your baked good. It truly turns up the flavor of almost any recipe and is a great little trick to keep in your back pocket when you want to impress with your baking. You can use brown butter in mostly any recipe that calls for melted butter. If a baking recipe calls for softened butter and you want to substitute brown butter instead, make sure it cools and solidifies first.
Use brown butter as a dip for bread, lobster, crab, or shrimp. You can also pour over popcorn, pasta, cooked vegetables or potatoes. Another use of it is to stir a couple tablespoons into mashed potatoes, sauce, or soup.
Tips for making and using Homemade Brown Butter
A better quality butter equals a better tasting brown butter.
Always stay close and watch the butter, stirring frequently. It can go from brown to burnt very quickly.
All of the brown bits that sink to the bottom are the browned milk solids. Those are liquid gold and packed with flavor. Make sure you use those in the batter.
Part or all of the butter in a baking recipe can be browned depending on the intensity of flavor you are looking for.
Use the brown butter like you would use regular butter in the recipe. If the recipe calls for melted, room temp, or cold butter, make sure the brown butter is in this state before baking.
- Butter at room temperature. (1 cup)
- Pan: Use a light-colored pan so you can see when the butter has browned.
- A wooden spoon, silicone whisk, or rubber spatula to stir.
- Place the pieces of butter in your light-colored pan.
- Turn the heat onto medium. Medium heat ensures the butter cooks evenly.
- Begin stirring to move the butter around as it melts. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam and sizzle around the edges. Keep stirring.
- In about 5-8 minutes from when you started (depending on the amount of butter you used), the butter will turn golden brown.
- The foam will slightly subside and the milk solids on the bottom of the pan will toast. It will smell intensely buttery, nutty, and rich.
Brown Butter can Burn
There’s only a few seconds between brown butter and burnt butter, so keep your eye on the stove the entire time. Don’t walk away and don’t stop stirring! Once some foam begins to dissolve and you notice the specks on the bottom of the pan have browned, immediately remove the pan from heat and pour the butter into a heat-proof bowl to stop the cooking process. If left in the hot pan, the butter will burn.
You can prepare brown butter ahead of time. Since butter is solid at room temperature, the browned butter will solidify. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Melt or bring to room temperature before using in your recipe.
I don’t recommend browning over 1 cup of butter at a time unless you have a very large pan. Use salted or unsalted butter, whichever your recipe calls for. If you’re using the brown butter as a sauce or dip, I recommend salted butter. Other than that, use the kind of butter that the recipe calls for.
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