When I fall in love, I’m head over heels. I’m the type of person who can’t get enough of a good thing. And today I’m officially introducing you to the love of my life: brown butter.
I actually wrote this post back in 2012 but figured it needed a little update and a top spot on the blog because, let’s be real, brown butter is truly magical. So magical that these The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies became #1 on the internet and #1 in the hearts of all AK readers.
Seriously, if you haven’t tried them yet, it’s time to start there.
In this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll learn exactly how to brown butter so that it has that wonderful toasty, nutty flavor and aroma and adds a simple decadence to baked goods and desserts, sauces, savory dishes and more. Check out all of my sweet & savory recipes using brown butter and get ready to make them ASAP!
What is brown butter?
Brown butter is a crazy good thing. No really crazy freaking good. Unsalted butter is melted in a saucepan, which separates the butter and milk. The milk from the butter sinks to the bottom of the pan, which essentially toasts, browns, and caramelizes — giving dishes a wonderful, nutty flavor.
The French call is beurre noisette, which translates to hazelnut butter. I believe it’s called this because once the butter is brown, it gives off a nutty aroma. I love it from the bottom of my heart… obviously.
Everything you’ll need to make brown butter
You really don’t need much to make this rich & delicious magic, just:
Can I use vegan butter?
Unfortunately, no. Vegan butter (and even “low calorie” butters) will not brown.
How to brown butter: a step-by-step tutorial
Ready to make some magic? You’ll need about 10-15 minutes total to make wonderful brown butter, so let’s get to it!
Step 1: start by slicing your stick of butter into 1-inch pieces so that they melt evenly. Add them to your saucepan and place the pan over medium heat.
Step 2: the butter will melt, and then start to crackle a bit. Be sure to whisk or stir consistently during this whole process.
Step 3: eventually the butter will start to bubble up a bit (as pictured) and start to turn slightly darker in color. Keep whisking!
Step 4: after a couple of minutes the butter will start to foam with tiny bubbles and start to deepen in color. You’ll notice a golden amber color at the bottom of the pan. It can be a little hard to see because the butter will also have a layer of foam over it, but continue whisking and look out for this color.
Step 5: continue to whisk and remove the butter from the heat as soon as the butter turns that amber color and gives off a nutty aroma. This should take just about 4-8 minutes in total.
Step 6: immediately transfer the butter to a heatproof bowl to prevent it from burning, and scrape all of those solid, brown bits from the bottom of the saucepan into the bowl. Let the butter cool until it’s cool enough to touch before adding it to your recipe!
What are the brown bits in the butter?
Once you’ve browned your butter you’ll notice toasty brown bits or specks at the bottom of your saucepan. These are the milk solids that I mentioned before, and they give the brown butter extra amazing flavor. Be sure to scrape them into your bowl to cool with the rest of the butter!
The best tips & tricks for browning butter
While the whole process is relatively easy, don’t forget these simple tips to ensure brown butter success every time!
- Only brown 1 cup (or stick) of butter at a time, otherwise the butter may not brown evenly. Remember to cut the stick into 1-inch pieces, too!
- If you can, use a light-colored saucepan or pot so that you can see the butter change color.
- Be sure to stir or whisk consistently so that the butter melts and browns evenly.
- Lastly, remember to cool the brown butter immediately! If you leave it in the hot pan it can easily burn, and burnt butter does not taste good.
How to store brown butter
If you’re not going to use the brown butter right away, you can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. It will solidify in the fridge, so you can then feel free to bring it to room temperature to soften or melt it carefully back in your saucepan to use in recipes.
Using brown butter in recipes
Now that you have some incredible brown butter, it’s time to use it! Feel free to substitute brown butter into any recipe that calls for melted butter. Note that if the recipe requires solid or softened butter you’ll need to refrigerate the brown butter so that it solidifies before using it.
Try it out in savory dishes like pasta sauce or even roasted veggies, and use it in your favorite baking recipes to add a deep richness that’s unlike any other. See below for tons of recipes that use brown butter!
Amazing recipes using brown butter
- The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies You’ll Ever Eat
- Change Your Life Salted Brown Butter Pancakes
- Chai-Spiced Butternut Squash Muffins with Salted Honey Glaze
- Brown Butter Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
- Brown Butter Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas
- Vanilla Brown Butter Pear Baked Oatmeal
- 30 Minute Brown Butter Goat Cheese Grilled Veggie Orzo
- Lightened Up Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes (with a slow cooker option!)
- Salted Brown Butter Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies
Now it’s your turn to fall in love. Check out all of my sweet & savory recipes using brown butter!
I hope you love this tutorial on how to brown butter! If you try it be sure to leave a comment and a rating to let me know how you liked it (and how you used it). Enjoy, xo!
How to Brown Butter (a step-by-step tutorial)
Learn exactly how to brown butter in just about 5 minutes with a few simple steps to add a lovely richness to sweet and savory recipes! Once you learn how to make brown butter you'll seriously want to add it to everything. Get all of my tips and tricks in this step-by-step tutorial for browning butter!
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter (salted or unsalted), cut into 1-inch size pieces
Add butter pieces to a small or medium saucepan and place over medium heat. The butter will begin to melt, crackle, and then eventually foam. Make sure you whisk or stir fairly consistently during this process.
After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown and turn a nice golden amber color on the bottom of the saucepan, this usually happens once it begins to foam, and sometimes can be hard to see. Continue to whisk and then remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to foam, give off a nutty aroma and turn an amber color. Keep a very watchful eye. This should take anywhere from 4-8 minutes.
Immediately transfer the butter to a medium bowl to prevent burning (you do not want to burn your butter!), making sure you scrape all the butter from the pan. Set the butter aside to cool for 10 minutes or until cool enough to touch before adding it to a recipe.
I do not recommend browning more than 1 cup butter at a time or the butter may not evenly brown.
It is easier to see the browned butter if you use a lighter saucepan or pot.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
Brown butter makes outstanding frosting as well – I make annual holiday rolls that are topped with brown-butter frosting, and I can’t wait to eat them each year!
I also have a love thing with butter, even in my diet days I never skipped on eating the real thing (I just lessened the quantity). Now however, I feel doomed as my husband and son have both very high cholesterol levels :((((( I have been flirting with the idea to try your sea salt chocolate chip cookies lately, I don’t think I can resist any longer…
Is there a reason why I could not use salted butter.?
…that is what i have on hand
yes, because the salt actually will cause it to burn.
I only ever have salted butter in my home, and I make brown butter with salted butter frequently. I’ve never burnt it. I think that’s probably a misconception, since I have no special cooking skill.
Mmm I can smell it now! Love 🙂
The melting butter heart picture is AWESOME!
I did a lot of baking today and browned a LOT of butter!!! Mmmmm!!
I am loving all the recipes out there with brown butter…I love your step by step photos…gives me nice idea on how brown my butter should be…thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much for this tutorial! I’ve tried to make brown butter before, but was never quite sure how to do it. This is such a brilliant guide that next time I’m sure I’ll get it right — and know that I did 🙂
I am addicted to this now. It is good for so many recipes and adds a depth I never expected. I'm a foodie and I will carry this forward for sure into many recipes.
Thank you so much for this… honestly, when I first read it, I was like, ok so I just whisk it, big deal… but it ended up being SO HELPFUL!!! The photos were key in making sure it looked right throughout. I humbly retract my arrogance 🙂
So happy to find this recipe. Making now! 🙂 My butter turned the amber color, but it also seems to have little tiny particles of an even darker amber that have now settled to the bottom of the bowl. Is that normal? It almost looks like I sprinkled a few tablespoons of a spice into it. Did I cook it too long, or not long enough? Thank you!
Yep–completely normal, just stir around a bit before you add it to anything else!
Thanks so much for replying so quickly! I really appreciate it!! now I can continue 🙂
molly @ http://www.lovelyandrust.blogspot.com
I’m so excited I found this how-to for browned butter! I see it in tons of recipes and hear how awesome it is, but wasn’t quite sure how to make it. Now that I know…I’m going to be making those browned butter salted chocolate chip cookies. Yum!
So much YUM.
This is so amazing! I love the photos and how excited you are about it 🙂 Happy holidays darling ^__^
I can't wait to make these cookies, thank you so much for your fantastic recipes!
I had never heard of brown butter but your tutorial is ubba excellent and your instructions are piss funny, u gud aiight…:D
If you overwhisk cream, it turns into butter. So…what happens if you overwhisk butter? 😀 I do have a question – how long can you store brown butter in the fridge before it goes bad?
I only have salted butter ? Will that be ok ??
Chilled brown butter is amazing in cream cheese frosting for carrot cake or any frosting for any spice cake. Yay for brown butter!
Wowww i’m definately trying this..
I’ve got a question … when the butter is Cooling down… a brown layer separates at the bottom…
When i make your delicious nutella filled chocolate chip cookies… do i have to mix everything?? Or do i throw that brown separate layer away?
Hi Maria! Keep everything in there 🙂
Hey there! I’m new to this forum, and I’m enjoying the blog! The browned butter caught my eye because a local restaurant where I live makes superb chocolate chip cookies, and the owner revealed he uses brown butter in the recipe. My question is, how much butter do you lose by boiling it? I’m assuming if you start with a stick of butter (eight tablespoons/four ounces) you lose a bit, but is it a measurable amount? I’m asking because I want to make a batch of brown butter, but factor in the loss. Thanks!
Ok… I just browned 2 sticks of butter (8 oz). I measured the remaining liquid, and ended up with 7 oz. Now I’m off to bake some chocolate chip cookies with it!
Hi Bill! Welcome to Ambitious Kitchen 🙂 Happy to have you. When you brown the butter usually you will lose a tablespoon or two. After you make the brown butter, you can always measure it out in a liquid glass measuring cup. Enjoy!
Should I use the brown butter in its liquid form (cooled to room temperature after cooking/ browning it) or in its colloidal form (set to room temperature after being taken out/ kept from the fridge)?
For baking I would use it in its liquid form 🙂
Thank you for this recipe! You step by step instructions were spot on! I can’t wait to use this method in more of my baking!
Absolutely! Enjoy 🙂
This looks great! I tried this out and loved the nutty smell. But question ! Do you keep on the super dark granulated bits at the bottom of the pan? Or did I just unknowingly burn mine? It did not smell burnt, but I was concerned about using the the dark granules in my cookie recipe. Did I just leave out the best part? Let me know! Thanks, C
Next time feel free to use all of those brown bits in your baking! They’re delicious 🙂 enjoy!
Haven’t tried recipe yet, but look forward to making it.
Im so glad I founnd you!
Me too! Thanks, Marcie!
Loved this recipe so easy to follow. I browned butter for the first time ever and it turned out AMAZING! Now to the choc chip cookie recipe…
I see where this doesn’t work with vegan butter, but will it work with ghee? I don’t tolerate regular butter. Love your recipes!!!
I actually haven’t tried it but just did a quick Google search and it looks like it might work, but I can’t be sure! Also I hear that Miyokos Creamery vegan butter browns nicely 🙂
I love brown butter!
I came across this recipe a year or so ago, and until this point I had never considered making it in the microwave, but it works really well and since you add 30 seconds at a time towards the end you can’t get distracted if you’re multitasking!
Followed along and HONESTLY couldn’t have been more perfect. I’m making your salted brown butter butterscotch oatmeal cookies and was so nervous to mess up the butter! Thank you for taking the time to make such helpful content your work is sososoo appreciated 🧡
Aw thank you so much, I’m SO happy it was helpful 🙂 It’s not so hard now, right?!