What Is Ghee? Plus, How to Cook With It
What Is Ghee?
Ghee is an East Indian form of highly-clarified butter. Esteemed for centuries in the Ayurvedic tradition as a cooking ingredient, to enhance health, and as part of ritual, it has recently gained all-star status as a cooking fat in North America. It’s no wonder: it’s delicious and simple to make; it has a high smoke point (which means it can be used for high-temperature cooking without burning); and it’s very low in lactose, which is helpful for those with dairy sensitivities. Some natural medicine doctors, like Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, also tout ghee as an ingredient that can benefit gut health, help boost vitamin intake, and more.
How to Make Your Own Ghee
Making ghee at home is simple.
- Gently heat 1 pound of unsalted butter in a saucepan over low to medium-low heat until the butter is melted and foam begins to form on the top.
- Increase the heat to medium-low and let the butter come to a simmer. By this point the butter will have begun to separate and the milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan. Let the butter simmer until those sunken milk solids begin to brown (use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to push aside the foam on top so you can see this progression). You can cook your ghee just until milk solids are lightly browned, or push it a little further for an even richer, nuttier flavor.
- Turn of the heat and skim and discard that foamy top layer, then let the butter sit for a few minutes to allow the remaining layers (the golden liquid on top and the sunken milk solids below) settle.
- Slowly and carefully pour the golden liquid (ghee!) through a cheesecloth- or paper towel-lined mesh strainer into a bowl, leaving the milk solids in the pan. You’ll have about 1½ cups ghee, which—if you’ve successfully removed all of the milk solids—will keep for several weeks at cool room temperature in an airtight jar, away from direct sunlight. You can also refrigerate ghee for up to a year or freeze it indefinitely.
How to Cook With Ghee
You can use ghee in place of any other fat (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.) for any type of cooking (sautéing, roasting, stir-frying, shallow or deep frying, even grilling). Ghee is especially useful for high-temp cooking (popcorn lovers take note!) and can also be used to add flavor to finished dishes; try drizzling it into a finished soup, or over a rice dish or a plate of toast and scrambled eggs. You can also use ghee as a substitute in pie crusts that call for shortening, or in any baked good that calls for oil. Give it a try and see what you think!