The Best Way to Brown Butter (Once You Try It, You’ll Be Obsessed)
If one simple kitchen trick could make your sweet and savory dishes richer and way more delicious, would you do it? Yup, we thought so.
Browning butter is one of those culinary discoveries that inspires all sorts of fun in the kitchen. Plus #brownbutter, guys!
Here’s how it works:
1. Using a stainless steel or other light-colored saucepan or skillet (ie not nonstick), melt a half stick or more (you can brown as much butter as you need) of cold or room temperature butter over medium heat. (A light-colored pan will allow you to easily check for doneness.)
2. When the butter is melted, keep cooking until the water in the butter evaporates (you’ll hear a few popping sounds at this point). Once the water cooks out, the butter will foam and the milk solids and butterfat that remain will begin to separate.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and, slowly stirring with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, keep cooking until the butter smells deliciously nutty and progresses in color to from a light tan to a rich toasty brown. The whole process, from solid-stick-in-a-pan to fragrant brown butter takes about 10 minutes, but don’t rely on time; it’s best to carefully watch over your butter during the browning process, and use your eyes and nose to check for doneness.
4. Once your butter is brown, you can push it into deeper brown butter territory, if you want to. Cook brown butter a little further and you’ll have dark brown butter. Push it a little further again and your butter will be very dark brown and taste nearly burnt. (The latter is a stage that not every cook will prefer or like—think of it like a deeply charred / blackened toasted marshmallow; it’s a preference that might work for some uses and not others, but certainly one that’s fun to play with if you like to experiment.) At each stage of browning, the flavor of brown butter will deepen further, but take note that the progressions happen very quickly, so don’t look away for a gram or any other reason; you’ll have about 10 to 15 seconds between each stage.
5. When your butter has browned to your liking, remove it from the heat and slowly pour it into a heatproof bowl to cool, leaving behind the milk solids that have settled at the bottom of the pan.
Brown butter keeps for several weeks in the fridge, or can be frozen for several months (ice cube trays are great for keeping frozen brown butter, or you can use any freezer-safe container), so you can feel free to make up a batch in advance, then have it at the ready whenever the #brownbutter mood strikes.
Now you can use your brown butter in everything from green beans, salmon, and hasselback yams, to slice-and-bake cookies and our favorite vanilla pear pie. Chances are good you’ll soon become as obsessed with brown butter as we are.