How to Brown Butter

Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
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Sharing all my tips on how to make brown butter easily on the stovetop, to make all your dishes and desserts taste that much better! Brown butter is a magical ingredient that brings all sorts of toasted, nutty flavor to everything from sweet brownies to savory dinners.

Why You’ll Love This Brown Butter Recipe

  • Quick and easy. This cooking technique is super simple and takes 10 minutes or less on the stovetop. It’s so simple, in fact, that you’re going to want to brown butter all the time (I speak from experience).
  • Rich, nutty flavor. Browning butter is the best way to bring out its richness and flavor. As it browns, the butter releases the most amazing toasty aroma that’s a little nutty. It adds delicious depth to all sorts of dishes, sweet or savory.
  • Make-ahead. I love having batches of browned butter on hand in the fridge. Brown butter stores wonderfully and you can even freeze it for future use!

You’ll love using your homemade brown butter in everything from gnocchi with brown butter sage sauce to chocolate chip cookies. It’s such a simple ingredient that brings even more flavor to your favorite desserts and dinners!

What Is Special About Brown Butter?

If you’ve never tried it before, brown butter is a French cooking technique where you heat butter until the water cooks out, leaving the milk solids to toast and brown, creating a rich, nutty flavor. You can use brown butter either melted or solid, in both sweet and savory recipes.

Butter in a skillet with spoon pouring some in.

What You’ll Need

To make brown butter, you need only one ingredient: Butter! You can use salted or unsalted. Feel free to scale the recipe with as many sticks of butter as you need.

You will also need a spatula (or wooden spoon) and a skillet to cook with. I recommend you use a skillet with a light-colored bottom. This makes it easy to see the exact moment the butter starts to turn brown, so you know when to stop cooking.

How to Brown Butter

Browning butter isn’t complicated, but it does require some close attention to make sure that the butter doesn’t overcook and burn. You’ll get the hand of it in no time. Scroll to the recipe card for printable recipe details and instructions.

  • Melt the butter. To make browned butter, first, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Cook until foamy. Swirl the pan so that the butter cooks evenly and starts to look a bit foamy.
  • Keep cooking. Don’t stop stirring! As the foam dissipates, little golden flecks will appear, and the melted butter will turn a rich, golden amber color. 
  • Take the butter off the heat. When the butter smells nutty and fragrant, immediately transfer the browned butter into a heat-safe bowl. That’s it!
  • Use or store. At this point, you can use the browned butter as is, or let it cool and re-solidify. See below for tasty ways to use this butter in some of my favorite recipes.
Brown butter in a skillet on a stove top.

Tips for Browning Butter Like a Pro

  • Not too hot! Do not turn your heat up past medium. If your heat is too high, your butter will not cook evenly. The water will not have time to evaporate and the milk solids will burn very quickly. The whole process should take 10 minutes or less, just keep that heat on medium. 
  • Use a light-colored pan. If you use a dark pan, it is nearly impossible to properly tell when the butter is done and when to remove it from the heat. 
  • Keep stirring. You want to continually stir the butter to make sure it cooks evenly.
  • Don’t look away. The biggest trick is to not look away. Keep stirring and don’t leave the stove. Brown butter burns easily if it doesn’t have your full attention. If you happen to accidentally burn it, though, don’t worry. Just clean out your pan and start again.
  • Avoid overcooking. The butter will be very hot when it comes off the stove. If you don’t transfer it from the pan ASAP, it’ll continue to cook. Pour it out into a heat-safe bowl right away to avoid burning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I replace butter with brown butter?

Yes! You can use browned butter instead of regular butter in just about any recipe. Keep in mind that once the butter is browned, you’ll end up with less than what you started with since some of it will evaporate. For baking recipes, make sure you measure your browned butter carefully to make sure you are using the correct amount of butter.

Is brown butter and burnt butter the same?

Not quite. Browned butter is a deep, golden color with a slightly nutty aroma. Burnt butter is darker, and smells, well, burnt. Make sure to take your brown butter off the heat once the milk solids turn a deep caramel color.

Up close image of brown butter in a skillet.

Ways to Use Brown Butter

Delicious browned butter makes a great replacement for regular butter in just about any recipe. If a recipe calls for melted butter, you can use your brown butter immediately. Otherwise, allow the butter to cool and re-solidify, and it’s perfect to use in place of softened butter.

One of my favorite things to eat with brown butter? Popcorn! It’s delicious drizzled over a bowl of popcorn with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. I’m sure you’ll find all kinds of yummy ways to use it, too. Here are some more easy ideas to get you started:

  • Desserts: Make brown butter Rice Krispie treats and brown butter cookies, or use it in brownies, cakes, and more. This butter would taste amazing in these salted caramel brownies or baked into a batch of butterscotch blondies.
  • Frosting: Use it to make a fabulous brown butter frosting for cakes and cupcakes. So good!
  • Pasta: For a savory option, browned butter makes a simple, tasty pasta sauce. The flavors pair especially well with fresh herbs like sage, basil, and oregano.
  • Vegetables: Toss sautéed broccoli or green beans in browned butter before serving, or spoon the butter over any veggie side, like asparagus or roasted carrots.
  • Seafood: Seafood, like shrimp and scallops, tastes amazing tossed in a fresh batch of browned butter. Don’t forget a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning!
  • As a dip or spread: Spread browned butter over a slice of banana bread with your morning coffee, or use melted browned butter as a dip for homemade breadsticks.
Brown butter in a skillet with a wooden spoon and towel.

How to Store

  • Refrigerate: Browned butter is great to make ahead. Once the browned butter is cooled to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container. It keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!
  • Freeze: Yes, you can (and should!) freeze brown butter for a later day. Once it’s stored airtight, freeze the butter for up to 3 months. Thaw it out in the fridge before you use it.

More Sauces and Condiments

Butter in a skillet with spoon pouring some in.
4.7 from 7 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 6 about 6 oz butter

Brown Butter

Brown butter is magical and tastes toasted and almost nutty, adding a lot more depth to a savory dish or dessert!
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted or salted

Instructions 

  • Add butter to a skillet over medium heat and melt it. You want to keep your heat at medium, if you go too high, the butter will cook too fast and not be properly browned.
  • Cook butter until foamy. Swirl the pan, or stir the butter, often to be sure the butter is cooking evenly.
  • Keep cooking, stirring constantly. The foam will start to dissipate some and you will start seeing little golden flecks in the butter. The color will progress from lemony-yellow to golden-tan.
  • Once you see lots of little browned bits and smell that nutty aroma, take the pan off the heat immediately and transfer the browned butter into a heat-safe bowl to cool.
  • The butter will be very hot. If you do not transfer it to a room temperature bowl, the butter can continue to cook and end up burning.
  • At this point, you can use the butter as is, fresh and hot or let it cool and re-solidify before using.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 271kcal, Carbohydrates: 0.02g, Protein: 0.3g, Fat: 31g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 243mg, Potassium: 9mg, Sugar: 0.02g, Vitamin A: 945IU, Calcium: 9mg, Iron: 0.01mg

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Great recipe instructions! Is it ok if when the bits turn brown and it has that amazing aroma, that there’s foam on top? Should I skim the foam before I use it for my cookie recipe?

Very good instructions! Love that you give reasonings for the steps you take. Thank you for being detailed!

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Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.