How To Brown Butter
Learn how to brown butter with this easy tutorial! All you need is one ingredient and a few minutes!
If you’ve never tried browning butter, then I hope today’s tutorial will change that! Not only is it incredibly easy, but it’s a simple way to add even more flavor to baked goods like snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, or cream cheese frosting.
Brown butter is also known as beurre noisette in French, which translates to hazelnut butter. It’s made by cooking the butter until the water evaporates and the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan and brown.
It adds a rich flavor with nutty and caramel undertones to baked goods, but it’s also delicious in savory dishes!
What You Will Need
- Butter: You can use either unsalted or salted butter, either one will work just fine! The butter doesn’t have to be softened either, it’s okay to use it straight from the fridge. A higher quality butter will also give you a better brown butter. However, I’ve used store-brand butter and it also browns just fine.
- Medium Skillet/Saucepan: I highly recommend using a light-colored skillet or saucepan. It will make it much easier to tell when your butter has browned.
- Rubber Spatula: To gently stir the butter while it’s cooking and prevent it from burning.
- Heat-Proof Bowl: To pour the butter into as soon as it’s done cooking.
How To Brown Butter
Depending on what kind of skillet or saucepan you are using, the whole process can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. Patience is key!
- Slice your butter into tablespoon-sized pieces, this will ensure that it melts faster and more evenly. Add the sliced butter to a skillet (or saucepan), then place the skillet over medium-low heat.
- Once the butter has melted it will start to bubble/sputter because the water is evaporating out of it. At this point, you want to continually stir the butter so that it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn.
- Once the butter stops bubbling, it will start to get foamy and some of the milk solids on the bottom of the pan will start to brown.
- Continue stirring and cooking until the milk solids have fully browned and you smell a nutty aroma.
- Immediately remove your skillet from the heat and pour the browned butter into a heat-safe bowl. You don’t want to leave the butter in the skillet because it’s still hot and the residual heat will continue cooking it. Make sure to scrape all the tiny brown bits out of the skillet too, this is where all of the flavor is at!
How To Substitute Brown Butter In Recipes
American butter typically contains anywhere from 15 to 20% water. When you brown butter, you lose moisture because the water evaporates out of it. One stick of butter will usually reduce down from 113 grams (8 tablespoons) to around 92 grams (about 6.5 tablespoons).
If the recipe calls for regular butter and you want to use brown butter, here’s how to adjust it:
- For each 1/2 cup of butter, brown an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter. For example, if you need 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) of brown butter, cook 9 to 10 tablespoons of butter, then measure out 1/2 cup.
- Another option is to add water to make up for the loss of moisture. For each 1/2 cup of butter, you can add 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of water. However, depending on what you’re baking this isn’t always the best option.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
- If your recipe calls for melted butter, make sure to let the brown butter cool so it’s not piping hot. This is especially important if you’re using the melted butter in baked goods with sugar. If the butter is too hot, it can cause the sugars to melt.
- If your recipe calls for softened butter, allow the brown butter to sit at room temperature until it’s solid. You can also speed up the process by placing it in the fridge uncovered for 1.5 to 2 hours. If you do place it in the fridge, just make sure it’s not too cold when you use it in your recipe. If it is cold, just let it sit on the counter so it can come back to room temperature.
- I recommend only browning up to 1 cup (2 sticks; 230 grams) of butter at a time. If you use too much butter, it may not brown evenly.
- Don’t walk away from the butter! Once it has melted, it will only take a few minutes to brown so be sure to keep a close eye on it.
- If needed, you can increase the heat to medium to speed up the browning process. I don’t recommend going over medium heat though because you run the risk of burning the butter.
- Once you remove the butter from the heat, don’t leave it in the pan! The residual heat will continue to cook the butter and it will burn.
How To Brown Butter
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick; 115 grams)
- light-colored skillet or saucepan
- rubber spatula
- heat-proof bowl
- Slice the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and place it in a light-colored skillet (or saucepan).
- Place the skillet over medium-low heat until the butter is completely melted.
- Continue cooking, stirring the butter often with a rubber spatula. Once the butter is melted it will start to bubble/sputter, then become foamy. After that, small bits of milk solids will fall to the bottom of the pan, then quickly start to brown. The butter is browned once you see these brown bits of milk solids on the bottom of the pan and smell a nutty-aroma. If needed, you can increase the heat to medium to speed up the browning process.
- Immediately remove the skillet from the heat and pour the butter into a heat-proof dish. Make sure to scrape out all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as well, this is where all of the flavor is at!
- Use as desired.