Learn how to make brown butter from a professional pastry chef! This easy-to-make liquid gold requires one ingredient and will completely elevate your baking.

A spoon holding liquid brown butter over a pan.

In this comprehensive step-by-step guide, I’m sharing all of my fool-proof bakery secrets to browning butter.

While it seems like a difficult and intimidating task, the art of browning butter is one of the simplest kitchen skills that is easy to learn and quick to master!

Use this secret weapon in both sweet and savory recipes to make brown butter blondies, brown butter brownies, brown butter sage sauce, and more!

What is Brown Butter?

Brown butter (a French classic known as beurre noisette) is a rich and aromatic ingredient created by cooking butter until its milk solids caramelize, resulting in a nutty flavor and distinctive golden-brown color.

Browning butter includes two main processes:

  1. The melting stage. The butter begins to melt. As it heats and simmers, gentle bubbles form as the water evaporates.
  2. The browning transformation. Past the melting point, the butter starts the Maillard reaction, producing a nutty aroma. It then transforms into a golden-brown color. This stage packs a depth of flavor and complexity to the butter!

Choosing the Perfect Butter

High-quality butter yields high-quality results!

Sticks of butter on a brown backdrop.

Salted vs. unsalted butter: Unsalted butter is recommended since salt content can vary across butter brands. However, either kind can be browned!

European butter: Like Kerry Gold or Plugra. They have a higher butter fat content and are a deep yellow color. They will result in a creamier and richer brown butter, as seen in our brown butter rice krispies.

American butter (regular butter): Has a more pronounced nutty and toasty flavor when browned.

How to Make Brown Butter

A white bowl with a sliced butter stick.

Step 1: Cut the butter into equal pieces. This allows the butter to melt evenly in the pan. You can use room temperature or cold butter!

A white pan with butter slices half melted.

Step 2: Cook over medium heat. In the beginning stage, the butter will melt in the pan. Stir it occasionally so that it melts evenly.

A white pan with bubbling butter being stirred with a black rubber spatula.

Step 3: Stir constantly. The butter will start to sizzle, pop, and bubble intensely. Stand nearby and stir it constantly so it doesn’t burn!

A white pan with melted butter and a thick layer of foam on top.

Step 4: Watch and listen. The noise will start to quiet because all of the water has evaporated, and the top will get super foamy.

Pro tip: Halfway through the process, start whisking the butter. It intensifies the caramelized flavor if you keep the milk solid particles suspended!

A hand stirring the melted butter in a pan to show the browned milk solids.

Step 5: Look for a golden color. As you stir, notice the milk solids at the bottom of the pan. The butter will start smelling nutty and will turn a golden yellow color.

A glass mason jar full of browned butter.

Step 6: Take it off the heat. As soon as the milk solids turn amber-brown, take the pan off the heat and scrape everything (don’t leave any browned bits behind) into a heatproof bowl. You have officially made brown butter!

Substituting Browned Butter in Recipes

You can use brown butter in almost any recipe that calls for melted butter. See Moisture Loss below. You can also use it for:

Softened butter: If your recipe calls for softened butter and you want to substitute brown butter instead, let it cool and solidify first.

Whipped brown butter: Let it solidify at room temperature, then whisk it in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy (similar to whipped cream). Spread it onto a warm slice of sourdough or brown butter banana bread!

Moisture Loss

Some of the liquid will evaporate during the cooking process, which is why I recommend always measuring or weighing the butter after it’s cooked. This is especially important because butter brands contain different levels of water content, as seen below.

A glass pyrex measuring cup with browned european butter to show the moisture loss after browning.

Kerrygold butter: After browning, one pound of butter, we had about 3/4 cup.

A glass pyrex measuring cup with browned american butter to show the moisture loss after browning.

Kirkland butter: After browning one pound of butter, we had just slightly less than one cup.

Brown vs. Burnt Butter

Butter can be cooked too long and will burn as a result. This is why I can’t stress enough how important it is to stir constantly and watch it while it cooks!

A white pan with browned butter.

Brown butter: Properly browned butter will have toasted milk solids at the bottom of the pan.

A white pan with burnt brown butter to show the black milk solids.

Burnt butter: If cooked too long, the milk solids will turn black and will smell burnt. If used, it will have a burnt and bitter flavor!

Flavor Pairing Guide

Get ready to mix and match flavors with browned butter!

  • Chocolate: They both have inherently rich and indulgent qualities that create bakery-worthy treats like Nutella bars.

Storing, Freezing, and Reheating

  • Reheating: You can brown it ahead of time, re-melt it, and use it in your favorite recipe!
  • Storage: Browned butter can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container. You can use the cold re-solidified brown butter to make a brown butter pie crust for strawberry peach pie!
  • Freezing: Store any brown butter in an airtight container with a layer of foil in between the lid for up to 3 months.

5 Top Tips for Succes

  • Cut it into pieces. This will allow it to melt and brown evenly.
  • Stir it constantly. Keep a close eye on the changing color and aroma. Stirring will prevent burning and achieve even browning.
  • Choose the right pan. Use a light-colored pan for better visibility and to avoid overcooking.
  • Patience is key! Allow the butter to melt and simmer gradually over medium heat to ensure it browns evenly.
  • Don’t rely on the clock. Cooking times will vary, so rely on your senses instead! The nutty aroma and golden-brown color signal that the brown butter is ready.

FAQs

What does brown butter taste like?

Brown butter has a rich, nutty, and toasted flavor.

How long does it take to brown butter?

It is a very quick process, roughly 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the pan and the amount of butter.

Can you brown butter in the microwave?

It is possible, but not recommended. The process is more challenging to control because of the uneven distribution of heat which can lead to overcooking and burning.

Can you make brown butter with margarine, vegan, or plant-based butter?

Because margarine and other non-dairy substitutes do not have milk solids, they cannot brown and won’t provide the same bold flavor.

Why is my brown butter so foamy?

The foam is created by water that is evaporating from the butter. As the butter melts and heats up, the water content turns into steam, resulting in bubbles and foam on the surface.

What are the brown specks in brown butter?

They are the milk solids in the butter that have undergone caramelization during the browning process. These browned milk solids are responsible for the rich, nutty flavor and golden-brown color of brown butter!

Liquid brown butter drizzling off of a spoon back into a pan.

Delicious Brown Butter Recipes

A spoon holding liquid browned butter over a pan.

How to Brown Butter

5 from 3 votes

Learn how to make brown butter from a professional pastry chef! This easy-to-make, one-ingredient liquid gold will completely elevate your baking.
Print Recipe Save Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 serving

Equipment

  • light-colored pan
Need Metric Measurements?Use the button options below to toggle between US cups and Metric grams!

Ingredients 
 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

Instructions

  • Before you start. Grab a light-colored pan or skillet, a rubber spatula or whisk, and a heatproof bowl.
  • Place the butter in a light-colored pan over medium heat. Cooking the butter low and slow is key to success, don't be tempted to increase the heat!
    1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
  • Stirring constantly, allow the butter to melt in the pan. As it gets heated past its melting point the butter will sizzle, pop, and bubble vigorously. Stand by and keep stirring it so that it cooks evenly. After a few minutes, it will start to turn golden brown and the top will get very foamy. When the noise starts to quiet, the milk solids at the bottom of the pan will turn golden brown and it will smell intensely nutty and buttery.
  • Immediately take it off the heat and pour it into the heatproof bowl to stop it from cooking. Use as desired!

Video

Notes

Doubling the recipe: I don’t recommend browning more than 1 cup of butter at a time unless you have a large pan.
Make-ahead: Brown butter can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use. 
Reheating: Most recipes will call for liquid brown butter. Gently warm the butter in the microwave or on the stove until just melted.
Storage & Freezing: Store leftover browned butter in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.
While the recipe calls for unsalted butter, you can use salted butter in substitution. Generally, most recipes will call for unsalted butter to have more control of the salt content. You can also use either cold or room-temperature butter. Cold butter will take a few minutes longer to brown!
 
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 814kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 92g | Saturated Fat: 58g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Trans Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 244mg | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 27mg | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 2836IU | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 0.02mg

The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




One Comment

  1. Finally I feel confident to try making brown butter! Your post was super in depth and as a new baker, I really appreciate the details. Can’t wait to try it and then make something with it.5 stars