Browning your butter is a simple way to elevate the flavor or your favorite baked goods to new heights. Today I’m sharing a simple tutorial on How to Brown Butter and walking you through all the steps for easy browned butter. It takes less than ten minutes to do!
How to Brown Butter
If you have never browned butter before, you are in for a treat. A simple kitchen technique that takes an ingredient that’s already king in my kitchen and elevates it to new heights.
Browning butter is easy to do (especially with my step-by-step instructions) and as a bonus it’s going to make your house smell seriously amazing. Like a nutty, buttery, toffee-like amazing… how has Yankee Candle not capitalized on this scent yet?
I’ll also share a few of my favorite recipes that use brown butter so you can get started on perfecting your butter-browning technique!
What is Brown Butter
Brown butter (0r “browned butter”) is simply butter that has been cooked until the milk solids are toasted a nutty golden brown. At the same time, we’re cooking out most of the water (and American butter typically contains about 20% water, so there’s quite a bit to cook out!). This is often done on the stovetop in a skillet and takes only about 10 minutes to do.
Brown butter’s French name is “buerre noisette” and yes, that sounds fancy, but it’s really such a simple ingredient, and the steps to make it are easy.
Let’s get started, I have step-by-step photos of the process as well as a video just below the recipe.
Step 1: Melt Your Butter
Easy enough. Do this over low heat in a medium-sized saucepan.
To make things easier for yourself I recommend using a light-colored saucepan (I like to use my stainless steel one here rather than my cast iron). The reason for this is that you want to be able to see when your butter actually starts to turn brown and using a dark-colored pan will make that more difficult. Keep your stovetop heat on low until the butter is completely melted.
Step 2: Sizzle & Pop
Increase your stovetop heat to be just over medium (don’t crank the heat too high or you’ll end up burning your butter). At this point, it’s important to not walk away from your butter. Don’t even take your eyes off of it. Brown butter will happily and obnoxiously turn to burnt butter the moment you avert your eyes. Watch it carefully and stir frequently with a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula (don’t use a metal spoon as the handle will quickly get very hot).
The butter will begin to sputter, sizzle, and pop. This is great! It means it’s starting to cook. Use your spoon or spatula to swirl the butter frequently if not constantly to evenly cook those milk solids. You don’t want anything burning, and frequent motion is the best way to prevent that.
Step 3: Watch for Browning
Here you’re going to use your ears and nose (as well as your eyes) to tell that your butter is ready.
Once most of the water has been cooked out the sizzling and popping will slow down, your butter will be making a lot less noise (keep swirling it, anyway). At about this same time you should notice little brown bits starting to form on the bottom of the pan. These are our toasted milk fats! The kitchen should be smelling amazing at this point, a bit nutty, a bit like toffee.
Once you see those brown bits (toasted milk solids) forming you should remove your skillet from the heat. The pan is still hot, so keep swirling with your spoon as you remove it from the heat and I recommend immediately pouring it into a heat-proof container so it doesn’t continue to cook (and burn!).
And that’s it… I told you it was easy.
A Note on Substitutions…
Browned butter is a great way to add extra toffee-like flavor to your favorite baked goods, but it will not work as a 1 for 1 substitute in any recipe that calls for regular butter. We’ve cooked out a lot of our liquid, and most recipes are counting on that water that’s in regular butter in order for your baked goods to turn out properly. If you try to use this in any old cookie or cake recipe, there’s a chance your cookie dough could end up crumbly or your cake too dense. Unless you’re up for experimenting, I recommend sticking for recipes that have been developed specifically for brown butter. Here are a few of mine that are perfect for today’s recipe:
Some Recipes To Try:
- Banana Nut Muffins
- Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Toffee Cookies
- Browned Butter Blondies
- Butter Bites
So, what are you going to bake first with your browned butter?
How to Brown Butter
- Medium-sized light-colored saucepan
- Place butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Ideally you should use one that is light-colored (like stainless steel rather than black cast iron) as this will make it easier for you to see once your butter has begun to brown.
- Heat butter over medium/low heat until butter is completely melted.
- Increase heat to just a notch over medium. The butter should begin to bubble, sputter, and pop. Use a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula to stir and swirl the butter frequently (make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan while doing this). Do not take your eyes off of your butter.
- Watch your butter very carefully and continue to swirl and stir. Once the sizzling/popping slows down, you will begin to notice bits of brown forming on the bottom of your pan.
- Once you see the butter beginning to brown, remove from heat and immediately pour into a heat-proof bowl.
- Use brown butter as indicated in your recipe, but keep in mind it is very hot after browning and most recipes will require that it cool back down to room temperature before using.