Brown butter, also called beurre noisette, is a classic French sauce that goes well with sweet and savory dishes. Its name in French means “hazelnut butter,” which is a good description of its nutty, toasted taste and smell. Brown butter only has one ingredient, unsalted butter, so the key to success is using the right tools and technique. Since there’s not much difference between brown butter and burnt butter, this is one recipe that needs to be followed exactly.
What is Brown Butter?
Brown butter is just regular butter that has been “browned.” You are cooking the butter just long enough to toast the milk solids, which are a little past their melting point. When you do this, you make butter magic! It gives the butter a nutty flavor, making recipes more interesting when you use it instead of regular butter. Brown butter is regular butter cooked just long enough to toast the milk solids found in the butter. You’re cooking the butter just a tiny bit past the melting point. Doing this creates this magical nutty flavor you don’t get with regular melted butter.
Brown butter has been heated past the point where it melts. The butterfat separates from the milk solids, falling to the pan’s bottom. It turns brown and tastes nuttier and deeper than regular melted butter. Brown butter is used in sweet and savory dishes, like Basic Vanilla Cake with Browned Butter Glaze and Brown Butter-Hazelnut Brownies. It’s also used in mashed potatoes, pasta, and risotto.
Brown butter is just butter that has been heated until it turns brown. This is often used as a sweet sauce to make baked treats and French pastries taste better. Butter has a lot of milk solids in it, which change color and feel when heated. When butter is heated to a high temperature, the milk solids turn brown because they are caramelized. Even though the milk solids turn brown, they leave behind a mild taste that is different from the taste of regular butter and ghee.
How to Make Brown Butter?
Butter is made up of milk solids and milk fat. When butter melts, the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan. Because of this, the milk solids start to cook and turn brown, which gives the sauce its color and flavor. Even though this is a common way to cook, many people burn the butter because it has a low smoke point. So, let’s talk about how to do it.
We suggest using a shallow pan made of stainless steel because it makes it easier to keep an eye on your butter and its color as it cooks. Melt the butter over medium-high heat. As it melts, it will start to foam. From time to time, stir or swirl the pan to spread the heat. Then, when the foam starts to go down, stir your butter almost constantly because it’s starting to brown at this point and could burn if you don’t. When your butter turns a caramel color and smells toasty, you can take it off the heat and pour it into a bowl that can handle the heat.
One stick (8 tablespoons, 113g) of unsalted butter
It’s easy to cook browned butter too long and make it burn. Remove from heat: Pour the butter into a bowl to stop it from cooking more and possibly burning. If the butter starts to turn black, you may want to throw it out and start over, unless you want beurre noir, which tastes different than nutty brown butter.
Let the butter brown, then take it off the heat. To make sage brown butter sauce, add some fresh sage leaves once the butter has melted. Browned butter can be used immediately or in the fridge, covered, for later use.
What does Brown Butter Taste Like?
Butter has a deeper flavor than regular butter, and you can decide exactly how browned you want. Many people say that brown butter tastes a little bit toasted and sweet, like toffee. It shouldn’t taste burned. If you burn your batch, you can save it by running the butter through a coffee filter, which will help strain many burnt bits.
In its purest form, brown butter tastes like toffee. It’s a bit sweet and savory and has a strong caramel smell. Chemically, brown butter tastes good for the same reason that seared steak does: the Maillard reaction breaks down animal proteins into hundreds of flavor compounds. Browned butter will work in recipes like butter, but it tastes different. It tastes like nuts. If you use browned butter instead of plain butter in baked goods, the flavor will be deeper, and the baked goods will be richer.
Brown Butter vs. Clarified Butter vs. Ghee
If you know clarified butter, you may have already figured out how similar it is to brown butter. Even so, they are different. Clarified butter and brown butter are both made by melting butter. However, as the milk fat separates from the milk solids, the two processes become different. Clarified butter keeps only the butterfat, leaving out the milk solids. This makes the final product free of dairy.
Ghee was first used in Indian kitchens, but now it is popular in many places. Think of it as a mix of brown and clarified butter, where the butter is melted, and its milk solids are toasted. But these toasted pieces are strained, leaving behind butterfat that tastes nutty.
Varieties of Brown Butter
We briefly said that you could control how brown your brown butter is, and that’s true. But the way each type is usually used is different in meaningful ways. A golden-brown butter goes well with roasted vegetables and recipes where a more robust brown butter might be too strong. People like to put chestnut-brown butter on fish and pasta, and herbs like sage or tarragon are often added to make it taste better. Last, dark-brown butter goes well with sweet baked goods like an apple galette or chocolate chip cookies.
Brown butter is lovely alongside both savory and sweet dishes, including:
- Skate Wing With Brown Butter
- Baked Apple Pork Chops
- Sweet Potato Ravioli with Brown Butter Pecan Sauce
- Brown Butter and Sage Biscuits
- Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing
Where to Buy Brown Butter?
Brown butter is hard to find in stores, and it will probably cost you a lot when you do. Prepared brown butter is more likely to be sold in specialty or gourmet food stores, and of course, the internet solves all access problems. But if you don’t like either of these two options, you can walk over to the refrigerated section of your grocery store and pick up a stick of unsalted butter, also known as the brown butter starter kit. If you’re unsure whether to buy brown butter or make it yourself, try buying one first to see how it tastes and figure out what you would do differently when making your batch.
How to Store Brown Butter?
When the milk solids in butter are taken out (to make clarified butter) or toasted (to make brown butter), the butter is less likely to go bad. Brown butter can be kept safe in the fridge for at least two weeks if it is in a jar with a lid. But if you’re ever not sure, take a whiff. If it smells sour or very different from when it first came off the stove, it’s probably gone bad. Brown butter can also be kept in the freezer for up to three months in an airtight container. If you won’t use yours for a while, it’s best to freeze it.
Since butter is solid at room temperature, the browned butter will also become solid. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Before using in your recipe, melt or bring to room temperature. I put 1/2 cup of butter on the list, but you can use as much butter as the recipe says.
“Brown butter gives dishes a deeper, more caramelized taste that regular butter can’t do on its own.” Browning butter is a great way to give a dish the best flavor, whether you want to sear scallops or make a tasty dressing for sautéed carrots and onions. It only takes a few minutes to make brown butter, but how you do it can change.
Depending on the pan you use, and how hot your stove is, it should take between two and six minutes to turn regular butter into brown butter. Keep an eye out! It can catch fire easily, so now is not the time to check Instagram. Brown butter looks the same as melted butter, but it is a lighter shade of brown and has darker bits at the bottom of the pan. Use a pan with a light interior so you can see more clearly what color the butter is.