Baking 101: How To Brown Butter (2024)

by Joy the Baker 94 Comments

Baking 101: How To Brown Butter (1)

Browning butter is one of those life skills that should be taught to everyone alongside things like: how to change a tire, how to tip at a restaurant, how to ride a bike with no hands, and how to mince garlic. Everyone should know.

It’s a good thing I’m here. I don’t know how to change a tire… but I’m here with butter.

We talk about Browned Butter a lot. I’m always trying to wrestle you into adding it to Banana Bread, Baked Donuts, and Grapefruit White Chocolate Cookies.

Browned Butter is butter cooked until it has melted into a liquid, the water has cooked out, and the milk solids begin to toast and brown to a delicious and nutty state.

When incorporated into desserts like breads, donuts, and cookies, it subtly deepens the flavor from delicious to ‘ohmygod who made these cookies!?!?’. That’s the power of browned butter. Here’s how to make the magic.

Baking 101: How To Brown Butter (2)

Step One: Butter (cold or room temperature, preferably unsalted) meets a lightly colored, medium skillet or saucepan.

It’s important that the bottom of the pan be lightly colored so you can actually see the butter browning. In a black-bottom pan, you’re left guessing (and probably burning). A white or silver-bottomed pan is best.

Place the butter in the pan and place the pan over a stovetop set to medium heat. Gently place your arms on your hips, assume a good attitude and peaceful face, and standby.

Baking 101: How To Brown Butter (3)

Step Two: Allow to butter to melt. No stick of butter has ever browned without melting first.

No need to stir of swirl. Just let the business melt.

Daydream a bit. That might be nice.

Whatever you do, do not multitask. As soon as you step away from your pan, it’s scientifically proven, you’re going to burn your butter.

Step Three: Now we’re going places!

Once the butter has melted into a liquid, it will start popping and crackling. That’s the water cooking out of the butter. Once the water cooks out, the milk solids in the butter will begin to brown.

So… first popping, then browning.

Swirl the pan around if you’re feeling restless or chef-y. Don’t even think about stepping away from your butter.

Baking 101: How To Brown Butter (4)

Step Four: Getting there!

Once the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown. This means that little brown bits will start to appear on the bottom of the pan. The actual melted butter liquid won’t brown, but rather, the milk solids will begin to brown at the bottom of a pan.

Use a heat-proof spatula to stir the browning milk solids off the bottom of the pan so they brown more slowly and evenly.

Once you see the butter browning on the bottom of the pan, the rest of the process will move pretty quickly. But don’t forget you’re in charge!

To prevent the butter from browning too quickly and burning, simply remove the pan from the heat source. The heat of the pan alone will slowly brown the butter. Leaving the pan over the heat source will brown the butter much more quickly, forcing ninja-like reflexes upon you.

Once the butter solids are browned to golden, immediately remove the pan from the heat (if you haven’t already), and remove the butter from the pan. The pan is still hot, even when it’s not over direct heat, and will quickly burn the butter solids. So remove the butter from the pan! Burnt butter is not as good as Browned butter. That’s also been scientifically proven.

Baking 101: How To Brown Butter (5)

Just as the butter browns to golden, a trombone parade should be passing by your house, confetti should fall from your kitchen ceiling, the bathroom will magically clean itself, kittens will trot by wearing party hats, and a unicorn with a bag of hot french fries should be waiting at your front door.

If those things don’t happen, you’ve done it wrong.

Golden, nutty, fragrant browned butter is now ready for your favorite recipes! I humbly suggest The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Known To Man… but maybe I’m biased.

Happy butter browning!

Previous PostNext Post

Previous Post: « How To Be A Better Baker

Next Post: »

Reader Interactions

All Comments

I Made This

Questions

  1. Jacki Williams

    When browning butter is there less mess from the popping and crackling if I use brand name butter (assume there is less water in expensive butter)?

    Reply

    • Joy the Baker

      Good question. Maybe slightly less popping! To avoid the major splatter I try to keep the heat on the medium-low end of the spectrum.

      Reply

      • Sherry LeTempt

        Thank u, I have been burning butter forever. Sherry

        Reply

  2. Kathee De Beaudry

    Thank you so much! I’m 76 and still learning, and now that I know how to brown butter, I can’t wait to make your gluten free browned butter blueberry muffins. Thanks again!

    Reply

  3. Paula Campos

    Love your blog!!! At 71 I’m still learning…one quick and probably stupid question…when transferring the butt out of the pan, do I scrape up the brown bits and save it with the butter?

    Reply

    • Jorge

      Yes, the browned bits are the source of the browned butter flavor.

      Reply

  4. Leigh

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve had a fear of browning butter. No yeast fear though. My poor cat had to stay outside a little longer than he wanted because I didn’t want to leave my butter.

    Reply

  5. PatW

    I keep a supply of brown butter on my kitchen counter and use it as a spread, as well as for cooking.

    Reply

  6. Penny Olson

    ampenny51@gmail.com I have never been entertained when reading a food site before. I not only learned how to brown butter easily but it was an enjoyable, chuckle enhancing read. Thank you for your fun, whimsical & educational information.

    Reply

  7. J-Mom

    I did this for the first time since I wanted to make the Cornbread Waffles from your cookbook Over Easy. Yummm! I was nervous wondering how brown the bits should be when I realized that I wasn’t using my sense of smell. The nuttiness was wonderful. Thank you for the instructions! I’ll just have to remember doing this ahead of time or make sure I have enough time built in to do this and cool it down a bit before incorporating it in the recipe.

    Reply

  8. Jennifer zaichenko

    OMG!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!! The recipe I was using said “in a few minutes” butter will foam and turn brown….it sure didn’t. Your explanation was dead on–I waited until the popping and crackling stopped. Wonderful advice. I will make more brown butter goodies from now on!

    Reply

  9. TheSugarAngel

    Fantastic instructions, thanks! I am a new baker and the butter came out just as described. Each step was perfectly articulated! Also, it changed the the life of my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I did not think my cookies could get any better, but wow! I am definitely going to be adding brown butter to more baked goods!

    Reply

  10. yoriko

    This is first time I read ” joy the baker”.I’m studying English and my teacher taught me this blogs.I thought English expression is very funny& wonderful!

    Reply

  11. Rachel

    Hi Joy! Just stopping by to say a) LOVE your blog and always have, b) THANK YOU for this post. I used this post every single time I made cookies the last few weeks (which was a lot) so I actually linked to it in my own blog (Please let me know if you would prefer I take it down-I gave you credit of course and I really just think it’s a GREAT tutorial.)

    Reply

    • joythebaker

      all good!

      Reply

  12. Liam

    I am a 13 year old student, and I have decided to do a presentation on browned butter for 4-H. Your photos show exactly what I need and are clearer than others I have found. May I use your photos in my presentation? I will be sure to give credit to you and your site.

    Reply

    • joythebaker

      sure!

      Reply

  13. Michelle Martine

    I just got here. I’m already a fan. Now – I’m off to brown some butter and summon a unicorn….

    Reply

  14. Blanca

    Hi Joy!

    Now that I’m confident browning butter (luckily I already had a white-bottomed pan), I was wondering what would happen if I made salted caramel with brown butter.
    Do you think it would be bonkers awesome or bonkers weird? Have you attempted it? It would be good to know before I go into it… Thanks a million in advance for your help!
    Blanca

    Reply

  15. Kara

    Thank you! This is the article I was looking for when I googled “how to brown butter” about a year ago. Sadly, you hadn’t written it yet! The pictures are especially helpful.

    Reply

  16. Tracy

    I LOVE your brown butter chocolate chip cookies! They are seriously so so good!

    Reply

  17. ChannonD

    Thank you very much for the tutorial! I have never been properly trained on browning butter. All the other musts were covered, but we missed the browning butter bit. Now I can show my Mom!!

    By the way, your link for the white pan is to amazon.com. Do you know about smile.amazon.com? If you shop there, a portion of your purchases goes to the charity of your choice! I love it and always use it now. Here’s the smile link to the lovely white pan: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LHT6UHK/ref=smi_www_rco2_go_smi_2054252142?ie=UTF8&linkId=EEMQREF2ZY5YSTEE&redirect=true&tag=joythebak00-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00LHT6UHK

    Reply

  18. Mamie

    Thank you! I had no idea how to brown butter. I think I’ve been afraid of any recipe that called for it for years. Can’t wait to try it.

    Love the writing style of the post as well. Very entertaining!

    Reply

  19. Emma

    This burnt butter is just calling for some pumpkin and sage!

    Reply

  20. Kristan

    “it’s scientifically proven, you’re going to burn your butter” Hahaha that is so true. I’ve made some frosting with browned butter once, it was a Martha Stewart recipe, and it was divine!

    Reply

  21. teffysperkst

    Dammit I don’t have a light coloured pan! This might have to be my next investment, as brown butter is one of life’s greatest joys.

    X

    Reply

  22. alison

    THANK YOU!! I never knew that brown butter was so light. No wonder I didn’t like it as mine must have always been burnt. Love this tutorial.

    Reply

  23. jennventures

    Awesome post!! I’ve been meaning to look up how to do this – a friend of mine made a cake with brown butter frosting earlier this year, and my mind was BLOWN. How could one little step make the frosting taste like it had salted caramel mixed in?! Never making normal frosting again. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  24. bryndianajones

    The first time I used a white bottomed pan to brown butter I was AMAZED. It is such a satisfying feeling when you can see it happen!

    Reply

  25. Anette

    Love the lightness and humour on these last posts :) Have a great spring!

    Reply

  26. Mary

    I have always read that you MUST use unsalted butter for the process to work. Has anyone successfully browned salted butter…? I tried once (by accident, grabbed the wrong stick) and it never did brown, so I am wondering if it is possible. I see that your recipe says, “preferably unsalted…” Love your explanation and I am also thinking a white bottomed pan may be in my future!

    Reply

  27. Linda Kittmer

    I was sure I was doing it correctly, but alas, no kittens in party hats or unicorns…I’ll keep trying…

    Reply

  28. reba

    So glad you explained this. I think I’ve been burning my butter thinking it was browned.

    Reply

  29. Lori

    This is one cleverly written post!

    Reply

  30. Kathy Mason

    Browned butter over angel hair pasta and sprinkled with finely grated Mizithra cheese. Yum!

    Reply

  31. jujusprinkles

    Wow, I had no idea you can brown butter. Thanks for this informative post!

    Reply

  32. DessertForTwo

    I just made brown butter for the first time the other day! And I also just enjoyed French fries with a unicorn (but that was my second time eating fries with a unicorn…long story). Life is so good!! :)

    Reply

  33. eangus

    browned butter is a little piece of heaven!! and where did you find that gorgeous towel?!?

    Reply

  34. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    This question may sound dumb but does it alter the amounts in the recipe at all? If the recipe calls for softened butter – not melted – do I let it come together to a more solid state? And if the water is cooked out of it, does it make a difference? I’m with you about the flavor — I never use nuts anymore without toasting them first. It makes such a huge difference.

    Reply

  35. Linda Wiseman

    This post was awesome and you had me laughing as I read through the directions. I can just visualize myself standing by my stove waiting for a stick of butter to start popping, crackling and then browning! lol

    Reply

  36. Lori

    This may be a stupid question, but do you strain the brown bits out of the butter? Or are the bits part of the magic?

    Reply

    • Lori

      Saw the answer to Sue. Add it all! Thanks!

      Reply

  37. ckkramer

    Not only did the unicorn bring me a cup of French fries, he also sprinkled them with garlic paprika whilst dancing an appropriately Irish jig. On the sly he also stole one of the Most Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies Known to Man that I had just baked. The kittens, however, were surprisingly well behaved.

    Reply

  38. amy

    I better go buy a white pan! All my pans are dark and hence I’ve never successfully browned butter. How long should it take, roughly?

    Reply

  39. sundiegoeats

    Step 1) Put butter in pan, turn heat on
    Step 2) Butter is browned when it smells so good you must fight desire to bathe/drink/put face into pan

    Reply

    • joythebaker

      also true!

      Reply

  40. shawna

    Try Browned butter on popcorn….its a game changer!

    Reply

  41. Charlotte Curtis

    Joy the Baker, you are my hero.

    Reply

  42. scarletscorchdroppers

    Lovely post :) Just looking at those pictures and my mouth is watering.
    It was only just this morning thinking of making a brown butter bundt cake, then I saw this. It must be fate. The brown butter Gods are speaking to me, and the bundt must happen!

    Jennie // Scarletscorchdroppers

    x

    Reply

  43. torynettleton

    Time to get a white pan, I think!

    Reply

  44. Adrienne

    This post made me laugh out load. I absolutely want a unicorn that brings me a bag of french fries. I have a question for you. I spend a lot of my time making pie for a small side business and was wondering once you make browned butter would you be able to use it in a pie crust in any way? Thanks!

    Reply

  45. Cheryl

    Loved your post and tutorial. This was fun, and added a chuckle to my morning.

    Reply

  46. Rebecca @ DisplacedHousewife

    Thanks for the step-by-step with photos… Yes, the photos are the best part!! Love love love brown butter in just about everything!!

    Reply

  47. Lalena

    Those cookies are what dreams are made of. The good dreams.

    Reply

  48. EC

    Thanks for the tutorial! I have never known what the heck brown butter is so I always just tossed in melted butter and hoped for the best. One day, soon, I will take the effort to do this. Promise!

    Reply

  49. alyssa breed

    omg a unicorn with french fries! yes please!!

    thanks for the step by step (with pictures!) – can’t wait to incorporate into just about everything!

    Reply

  50. Emily

    I’ve been really grumpy about brown butter for so long! I didn’t understand the hows and for heavens sake the whys. I’ve seen the light ???? Thanks Joy!

    Reply

    • joythebaker

      we’re in this together!

      Reply

  51. tracyfridley

    I’ve made your browned butter blueberry muffins numerous times, and they are stupendous! Everybody I’ve shared them with has raved about them. My 33-yr. old son begs me to send them to him. (btw- he’s gorgeous, single and visits NOLA, fairly often!)

    Reply

  52. Rhonda

    Great explanation and you are hilarious!

    Reply

  53. wheremyfeetare

    I’ve made your brown butter chocolate chip cookies and agree they are the best cookies known to man. Thanks for the tutorial too!

    Reply

  54. lindsay @ Wild Ginger

    brown butter + mizithra cheese pasta – most commonly known from the Spaghetti House, but I eat it figured out it’s secrets so I can indulge whenever I need a fix. Amazing…

    Reply

  55. Emily

    I’ve been really grumpy about brown butter for so long! I didn’t understand the hows and for heavens sake the whys. I’ve seen the light ???? Thanks Joy!

    Reply

  56. deepcovesusi

    Even if I didn’t cook, I would love your blog. You are such an excellent, fun, and imaginative writer that anything you wrote about would make for great reading. But I do cook, and will brown some butter today! Thanks. Susie

    Reply

  57. harini

    browned butter? we call it Ghee! its used in indina cooking and a very important part of Hindu rituals

    Reply

  58. amberraeanderson

    Pretty much every time you post a new recipe incorporating Brown Butter, it goes into my collection of recipes. The chocolate chip recipe is what sparked my love for this simple yet high impact ingredient. It really does add such a deep, interesting flavor. Not to mention, Brown Butter smells heavenly. Thanks for this step by step!

    Reply

  59. Elise

    Joy, yours is one of the few blogs I read that make me laugh out loud on the daily. I will be watching for the party-hatted kittens when I finally work up the courage to brown some butter.

    Reply

  60. Megan Price

    I’ve done a few things with browned butter and it is awesome! But I think the unicorn got lost and ate my french fries… bummer.

    Reply

  61. T7

    This has go to be one of the most excellent explanation of browning butter that I have ever read! Especially taking it off the heat and also removing the butter from the pan when the browning has finished. I’ve never seemed to be able to get browned butter right, no matter how diligently I watched over the process, and now not only do I understand why, I’m not so worried about trying it again. Great post! Thanks Joy!

    Reply

    • Shalamar

      I found a delicious looking recipe for browned butter peach cupcakes, but had never heard the term browned butter. So I googled it, and this site was at the top of the search results, and I see why. Great directions, even to the subconscious!

      Reply

  62. the Painted Apron

    Thank you! Great [and funny] tutorial! Browned butter is my new best friend!
    Jenna

    Reply

  63. Clementine Buttercup

    I love sole meurniere which uses browned butter. SO delicious with thin-cut french fries. Yum!

    Reply

  64. Natalie

    I feel a little ridiculous for not thinking to use a light colored pan before this – no wonder browning butter hasn’t seemed as easy as it should!

    I love reading your blog. Thanks for all your pep and cheerfulness!

    Reply

  65. dc

    Learned the hard way by using a dark pan the first time! lol. Brown butter in Rice Krispie treats…so yummy!! Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply

  66. megbollenback

    Thank you for the tips! A unicorn with fries sounds pretty fantastic. Maybe a leprechaun with a pot of gold will show up, too. :)

    Reply

  67. Debra Watson

    thank you! am so glad that you explained the process of how to brown butter. I always enjoy your posts and blog.

    Reply

  68. lemonseleven

    Now I feel like I need a white-bottomed pan. Losing my ability to distinguish between want and need.

    Reply

  69. Jillian

    Is the measurement still the same? E.g., if the recipe calls for half a stick of butter and you brown the butter, there will be less of the butter to go in to the recipe because of the cooking off of the water. Do you simply use the half a stick you browned or do you add slightly more butter to brown to compensate for what is going to burn off?

    Reply

  70. sue

    Question, do all the browned bits go in the recipe, or just the clear part?

    Reply

    • joythebaker

      Thanks for the question, Sue! Everything goes into the recipe! Those browned bits are the best part!

      Reply

  71. Rebecca

    Thank you so much for going through this step-by-step. I’ve never managed it properly I think because I wasn’t sure what to actually do, hopefully this will take my baking to new levels finally!

    Reply

  72. cateinthekitchen

    Bookmarking this! Thanks for such a detailed explanation with step-by-step pics, very useful and beautifully written (as are all your posts) x

    Reply

  73. zarrahjaneamagan

    Great post.
    Thanks for sharing this tips.
    XO

    Reply

  74. Richa Gupta

    I guess this is exactly the same as making Ghee or Clarified Butter. Every Indian Household does this at least once a month :)

    Reply

    • jeff

      Richa Gupta, the difference is, with clarified butter or ghee, you don’t use the brown bits. You clarify the butter. Hence the name.

      Reply

  75. Beth

    Excellent! Thank you! Can you post a picture of butter that’s gone too far?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

RELATED POSTS IN Baking 101

Baking 101: How I Test My Oven with Sliced Bread

Hi friends! Just wanted to put this back at the top of your inbox. It’s Baking Szn babes, and I only want the best for us. I’m revamping and resurrecting some of my Baking 101 posts just to refresh our baking skills. Last week we learned how to read a recipe, this week we get…

Read More

Baking 101: How To Read A Recipe

Welcome to the wonderful world of baking where flour, butter, and our collective sweet tooth’s (teeth? teeth’s??) come together to create an absolute mess in our kitchens. Dirty every dish, I say! In the name of cookies, of course. Whether you’re a seasoned baker, or just tying up the apron strings for the first time,…

Read More

My Top 15 Kitchen Splurges That Make Time in the Kitchen So Much Better

When it comes to baking, there are things I consider kitchen essentials and things I consider kitchen luxuries. Somehow, because I’m me, those lists have merged as the luxury tools become more essential than not. What can I say, I settle into comforts really well. I’m sure you do, too – so read this list…

Read More

Baking 101: How To Brown Butter (2024)

FAQs

Baking 101: How To Brown Butter? ›

Under-browned butter won't carry as much flavor, and won't bring that lovely nuttiness to your bake. It will look lighter as you'll see in the photo below. Over-browned butter will taste bitter or even burnt, and be darker brown in color, as you can see in the photo below.

How do you brown butter for baking? ›

How to Brown Butter, Step-By-Step Guide
  1. Step 1: Cut the Butter Into Equal Pieces. Start by cutting unsalted butter into equal-sized pieces, which melt more evenly.
  2. Step 2: Cook the Butter Over Medium Heat. ...
  3. Step 3: Let the Butter Bubble. ...
  4. Step 4: Stop Cooking the Butter as Soon as It Smells Toasted.
May 16, 2023

What's the difference between brown butter and burnt butter? ›

Under-browned butter won't carry as much flavor, and won't bring that lovely nuttiness to your bake. It will look lighter as you'll see in the photo below. Over-browned butter will taste bitter or even burnt, and be darker brown in color, as you can see in the photo below.

How come my butter won't brown? ›

Why is my butter not browning? If using American butter, there is a higher percentage of water that needs to evaporate before the proteins in the milk solids will start to brown. Stick with it, the butter will turn eventually.

How long do you cook butter before it turns brown? ›

Begin stirring to move the butter around as it melts. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam and sizzle around the edges. Keep stirring. In about 5–8 minutes from when you started (depending on the amount of butter you used), the butter will turn golden brown.

How do you know when butter is browned enough? ›

Watch butter closely. The color will progress from a bright yellow to a golden tan, then quickly to a deep golden brown. When you smell a nutty aroma, butter is deep golden brown and browned milk solids appear in bottom of pan, take pan off the heat. Immediately transfer browned butter to heat-proof bowl.

Does browning butter make a difference in cookies? ›

In his recipe, he made the ingenious discovery that browning the butter before adding it to the mixture would give the cookies a much more pronounced nuttiness.

How to brown butter without burning it? ›

SAM'S TIP: Don't let your butter turn from brown to burnt! Watch it carefully (don't walk away from it!) and stir or swirl the pan frequently so the milk solids cook evenly. Frequent motion is the best way to prevent burning!

How much butter is lost when browning? ›

During the process of browning, much of the water evaporates from the butter. So if you start out with 1 cup of butter, you'll be left with just a hair over 3/4 cup of butter. You'll lose a couple tablespoons in the process. This is the evaporating effect.

How dark is too dark for brown butter? ›

Once it reaches this color, immediately take it off the heat and pour it into a cool vessel. If the milk solids start to turn dark brown or black, the milk solids have burnt and are imparting a bitter flavor. The butter has gone too far.

Should you stir butter when browning? ›

Brown butter isn't one of those things you can start cooking and walk away from. It requires your total attention, which means stirring the butter every once in a while. Without stirring, the butter has more potential to cook unevenly, and the milk solids can stick to the bottom of the pan and eventually burn.

What is the white stuff when browning butter? ›

The milk solids, those white foamy bits, will begin to brown as the butter continues to cook. They're the key to the delicious flavour, so you'll want to ensure an even browning by continually whisking the butter or swirling it in the pan. Avoid letting those milk solids burn at the bottom.

What kind of pan is best for browning butter? ›

It's important to note that a light colored pan works best for browning butter. As the butter cooks it turns a golden amber color and a dark pan will disguise the color which could result in burnt butter.

What is brown butter called in French? ›

Beurre noisette (French pronunciation: [bœʁ nwazɛt], literally: hazelnut butter, loosely: brown butter) is a type of warm sauce used in French cuisine.

How to brown butter in a dark pan? ›

It's important that the bottom of the pan be lightly colored so you can actually see the butter browning. In a black-bottom pan, you're left guessing (and probably burning). A white or silver-bottomed pan is best. Place the butter in the pan and place the pan over a stovetop set to medium heat.

How much butter do you lose when making brown butter? ›

During the process of browning, much of the water evaporates from the butter. So if you start out with 1 cup of butter, you'll be left with just a hair over 3/4 cup of butter. You'll lose a couple tablespoons in the process. This is the evaporating effect.

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Frankie Dare

Last Updated:

Views: 5779

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Frankie Dare

Birthday: 2000-01-27

Address: Suite 313 45115 Caridad Freeway, Port Barabaraville, MS 66713

Phone: +3769542039359

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Baton twirling, Stand-up comedy, Leather crafting, Rugby, tabletop games, Jigsaw puzzles, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Frankie Dare, I am a funny, beautiful, proud, fair, pleasant, cheerful, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.