Brown Butter is my secret ingredient to enhance the flavor of any dessert. It adds complex taste and a note of toffee to your cookies and cakes, taking it to the next level.
Brown Butter might sound fancy, but it’s actually extremely simple to make. If you can boil water, you can make brown butter. All you need is a light color saucepan, a whisk, a pair of good eyes and a decent sense of smell.
How to Brown Butter
So what is brown butter exactly?
Brown butter is regular butter that has been cooked until the water in the butter has evaporated, the milk solids become toasty, and the butter caramelizes into liquid gold.
What type of butter to use?
It is best to use unsalted butter. Since the resulting brown butter will be used in a recipe for sauces or baked goods, this will give you more freedom to control the amount of added salt in your final product.
How to make brown butter?
- Add unsalted butter to a saucepan: I like to cut them up into smaller pieces so they melt quicker.
- Cook over medium heat: the butter will go through some changes, first melting, then foamy as the water evaporates. You don’t have to whisk the butter yet at this stage, but if you do, it doesn’t affect the butter in any way negatively.
- Once the foam subsides, you’ll see clear bubbles. At this point forward, you must whisk continuously to keep the milk solids at the bottom of the pan from burning.
- You’ll see the color change to a light brown, then golden brown, and it can go to dark brown in a matter of 15 – 30 seconds. This is why a light color pan will help. When it smells nutty and is golden brown in color, take it off the heat and continue to whisk. The butter will keep cooking from the residual heat.
You can now use the brown butter right away if your recipe calls for hot brown butter, or let it cool before using it for baking. Once cooled, you can also let the butter resolidify in the fridge and use it as you would regular butter.
How to fix burnt brown butter?
Making brown butter is easy but it is also easy to overcook it. If it’s burnt, there is no way to un-burn it. But before you throw your hands up and toss it out, give it a sniff test, does it actually smell burnt? Or does it just look “burnt”?
See the difference in color between these two jars of brown butter? The one on the left (golden brown) is taken off the heat at 8 minutes and 30 seconds, the one on the right (blackened brown or just black really) at 9 minutes.
You might think the blackened brown butter is definitely burnt and is a toss away, actually that is not so. It has a very intense nutty smell, but still sweet, not bitter-burnt, and can still be used for baking. You can strain out the burnt milk solid to save it.
How to strain brown butter?
Use a fine-mesh sieve lined with a piece of cheesecloth and pour the brown butter over it. The milk solids will get trapped behind.
If you want to get every last bit of brown butter out, squeeze the cheesecloth to drain out every drop. The difference between squeezing and not squeezing is about 5 grams or so, not huge.
The difference between straining and not straining can be 10 – 15 grams, that’s including the milk solids.
Most of the time, you don’t need to strain the brown butter for baking. A lot of flavors is in the milk solids anyways. Unless you’ve burnt it, then in this case, strain it to save your brown butter.
How long does brown butter last?
Stored in the refrigerator, brown butter will last up to two weeks. I usually use a clean empty glass jam jar for storage.
If you have suspicion about whether your brown butter is still good or not, check it with a sniff test, if it still smells sweet, it’s good.
What to use Brown Butter for?
- Add brown butter to these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies for a toffee note, it goes perfectly with the brown sugar in the cookie dough.
- Traditional financier recipe always uses brown butter, these Dark Chocolate Financiers are no different and absolutely delicious.
- Upgrade your classic Peanut Butter Cookies with brown butter for an amazing taste.
- Why use regular butter when you have brown butter, layers of bread, brown butter and cinnamon sugar make this Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread a delicious treat.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!
- 8 oz unsalted butter (226 g)
- Heat butter in a light color saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking once butter has melted, the butter will become foamy, you don’t have to whisk yet. When the foam subsides, you will see clear bubbles, start whisking at this point to keep the milk solids from burning. When the butter starts to brown, watch the color carefully, when the butter is caramel in color and smells nutty, turn off the heat. This will take approximately 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a jar for storage in the refrigerator. You can strain the solid out of the butter using a fine mesh sieve lined with some cheese cloth, if desired.
- When butter starts to brown, you will need to watch it very carefully because it can go from brown butter to blackened brown butter in a matter of 30 seconds.
- For baking, it is not necessary to strain out the solid. But if you happen to over-brown it, straining the burnt solid out can save the butter.