How to Brown Butter (Tutorial)

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In this tutorial, I’ll teach you how to brown butter on the stovetop. Browning butter is such a simple way to really elevate the flavors of both sweet and savory foods.

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A white spatula showing the brown butter flakes from the bowl below

It’s been a long time coming but I am finally writing out a post detailing the steps for How to Brown Butter on the stovetop.

I have several recipes on my site that call for brown butter, and each time I give step by step instructions on how to do it, but really it deserves some time and attention of it’s own. 

This is a simple process and one that you can easily learn, but there’s a couple helpful tips and questions I might be able to help answer for you to ensure you’re successful the first time around. 

Taking a few extra minutes to melt and brown the butter on the stovetop can really elevate your desserts, but also it’s a great way to incorporate flavor into your savory foods like sauces, pasta or meat dishes and even side dishes like mashed potatoes.

Let’s get into it.

What is brown butter?

Brown butter is melted on the stovetop turning the solid butter into liquid while some of the moisture (water) evaporates. What you’re left with is the milk solids turning into a golden-brown color and releasing a nutty aromatic smell.

It takes melted butter and turns it into something even more amazing!

This simple technique can be used in place of melted butter in baked goods like cookies, breads or cakes. Or it can be used in place of melted butter in savory dishes like sauces, pastas and side dishes.

A clear glass bowl with brown butter

Step by Step Instruction

  • Step 1: Cut the butter into pieces and place in a saucepan.

This is helpful because the butter will melt down more evenly but also quicker.

I recommend using a light color saucepan. I find that darker pans tend to difficult to judge the color of the brown butter but also it is more likely that you’ll overcook or burn the butter.

A saucepan with cubed butter that is starting to melt

  • Step 2: Stir over medium to medium low heat bringing the butter to a boil.

Browning butter is a quick process but does require attention. Once the butter starts to boil, you don’t want to walk away from the stove, instead you want to stir the butter frequently so that is browns evenly.

The recommended temperature for the stove is medium to medium low so as not to cook it too quickly, but also it’s easier to burn the butter if the temperature is up too high.

During the boiling process, the water is evaporating from the butter.

  • Step 3: The bubbles tightly appear foamy and browning begins.

Once the water has evaporated, the top turns to more of a foam and the butter turns from yellow to more golden. This is when the milk solids start to turn brown. Keep stirring!

A saucepan filled with butter than has been browned

  • Step 4: Monitor the color closely and remove from the heat

Butter can go from brown to burn very quickly.  I go into a little more detail below specifically in regard to the color, but once the brown bits have formed and the butter is golden brown, remove it from the stove and pour into a heatproof bowl.

You want to stop the butter from browning any further, which is why I recommend placing in a separate bowl.

What color should it be?

As I mentioned above, the butter can burn very quickly- that’s why you can’t take your eyes off it.

The depth of flavor really comes from those milk solids in the bottom of the pan. If you pull it too early, the flavor won’t be as pronounced.

But if you leave it for too long and over brown it, then it will be burned, which results in a very bitter and unpleasing taste. 

A saucepan filled with butter than has been browned

A glass jar filled with a golden brown butter

What can I use it for?

I mentioned above that it can be used in both baked goods and savory dishes.  

On my website, you’ll find several recipes that use brown butter, but one of my favorite things to make is brown butter frosting or glaze. It’s seeeeriously good.

Recipes that specify brown butter will let you know if the butter should be used as a liquid or solid. It’s common for a recipe to call for browning the butter will indicate if it needs to be rechilled.

A glass bowl filed with a brown butter glaze, and a gold whisk

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to brown butter? How do you know when it’s done?

It should take about 10-12 minutes or less depending on what temperature you set the stove for. I recommend medium to medium high. Of course, a gas stove will heat quicker than an electric stove.

It’s near the end when the foam starts to settle on top, the brown flakes start appearing in the bottom of the pan. 

When the light brown flakes starts to get darker, pull it off immediately and transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool.

If you leave it for too long and over brown it, then it can burn, which results in a very bitter and unpleasing taste

Can you brown salted butter?

Yes, both salted and unsalted butter will work, but it is best to refer to the actual recipe that you are using the browned butter for.

How to store brown butter

Once the butter has cooled, it can be stored in an airtight container. If left on the counter the butter will turn back to a soft solid, and the brown flecks usually will settle on the bottom of the bowl.

You can also place it back in the refrigerator, but it will become a firm solid like you’d expect butter to be. Since there’s less moisture, I think it even gets a little more firm.

A saucepan with browned butter in it

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A white spatula showing the brown butter flakes from the bowl below

How to Brown Butter (Tutorial)

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 cup

Description

In this tutorial, I’ll teach you how to brown butter on the stovetop. Browning butter is such a simple way to really elevate the flavors of both sweet and savory foods.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, cold or room temperature

Instructions

  1. Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon size pieces and place in a saucepan.
  2. Turn stovetop on to medium/medium low heat bringing the butter to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the moisture evaporates, the bubbles get tighter and appear to be foamy on top and browning begins. This is when the milk solids start to turn golden brown. Stir constantly and don’t take your eyes off it! Butter can go from brown to burn very quickly.
  4.  Once the solid start to go from golden brown to darker brown, remove from the heat immediately and  pour into a heatproof bowl. If left in the hot pan, the butter will continue to brown and maybe even burn.
  5. Use according to the recipe instructions or store (notes below).

Notes

  • Both salted and unsalted butter will work, but refer to the actual recipe for instructions.
  • Once the butter has cooled, it can be stored in an airtight container. If left on the counter the butter will turn back to a soft solid, and the brown flecks usually will settle on the bottom of the bowl. You can also place it back in the refrigerator, but it will become a firm solid like you’d expect butter to be. Melt or bring to room temperature according to the recipe instructions.
  • Recipes that specify brown butter will let you know if the butter should be used as a liquid or solid. It’s common for a recipe to call for browning the butter will indicate if it needs to be rechilled.
  • Butter can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Nutrition Information:
1 tablespoon
100
0g
0mg
12g
7g
0g
0g
0g
30mg
  • Category: Topping
  • Method: Cooked
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: Brown Butter, How to Brown Butter, Brown Butter Recipe

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