How to Make Ghee
It’s surprisingly easy to make your own ghee, an Indian version of clarified butter.Ghee is closely compared to clarified butter due to a nearly identical cooking process. However, there are two key factors that distinguish ghee from clarified butter. Ghee has a nutty, toasted flavor that is the result of milk solids that brown as the butter melts. A true ghee recipe that follows ancient traditions also has a fermentation process that adds starter cultures to pure cream before churning for tangy notes and gut-cleansing benefits.
In recent years, ghee has become a more mainstream ingredient, particularly as a staple in the ketogenic and paleo diets. In grocery stores, ghee typically ranges from $6 to $12, which makes DIY ghee a more affordable option. Below, we break down exactly how to make ghee at home.
How to Make Ghee from Butter
Butter is composed of three main elements— butterfat, milk solids, and water. Both ghee and clarified butter are pure butterfat, which is made by slowly melting unsalted butter and removing the milk solids and water. Ghee is cooked slightly longer than clarified butter in order to brown the milk solids and add a nutty, caramel flavor.
To make ghee at home, melt at least one stick of butter in a small saucepan over low heat (you can easily melt several sticks for a larger batch of ghee). Within five to ten minutes, the milk solids will begin to separate from the melted butterfat and the water will evaporate. Turn up the heat to medium and continue to brown the sunken milk solids while allowing the remaining water content to evaporate. As the butter simmers, a layer of milk solids will form a white foam on top— this should be skimmed off. Continue to cook for another five to ten minutes until the milk solids have completely browned and you can smell notes of toffee.
Slowly strain the butter through a cheesecloth or sieve into the container of your choice, being careful not to get any milk solids mixed in. This product is pure butterfat, which is often referred to as “liquid gold” (aka ghee). Discard the last few tablespoons of butterfat and milk solids that remain in the pan.
By removing the milk solids, you also increase the smoke point of ghee—regular butter has a smoke point of 250°F; ghee has a smoke point of at least 400°F, which makes it an ideal, flavorful replacement for vegetable oil. Try your homemade ghee as a substitute for butter in our Indian Spiced Chicken or as a replacement for vegetable oil in our Shrimp Curry with Coconut Milk.
How Long Does Homemade Ghee Last?
Ghee can last for three months at room temperature and up to one year refrigerated. If placed in the freezer in an air-tight container, it can last for years. Because the water and milk solids have been completely removed, there is little opportunity for bad bacteria to grow, which makes it safe to leave ghee at room temperature.
How Can I Store Ghee at Home?
Ghee is typically stored in an open container (we prefer mason jars and plastic quart containers) in the refrigerator. You can also store ghee in a closed, airtight container at room temperature in a dark, cool spot.
Is Ghee Healthier Than Butter?
Ayuverda, an Indian holistic healing system, believes ghee to be healthier than regular butter because of the fermentation process. The cultures in the butter, similar to probiotics, are said to help with internal cleansing, gut health, better bowel movements, reduce inflammation, and increased life expectancy. Because the milk solids are removed during the clarifying process, ghee is also lactose-free and therefore beneficial for individuals who are lactose-intolerant.
However, ghee does have a higher saturated fat content than butter. If ghee is consumed on a regular basis, it can lead to diet-related chronic illness, according to nutritionist Maya Feller, MS, RD, CD of Maya Feller Nutrition. However, “if a person is consuming a plant-forward diet based in whole and minimally processed foods and having ghee in moderation on a regular basis, we may not expect to see similar risks,” says Feller.