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Make-Ahead Brown Butter is Better

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The holidays call for a boatload of butter, so we paired up with Organic Valley to share how to make a stockpile of its nuttier cousin.

Brown butter is the prima ballerina of butters. It tiptoes onto the stage and everyone's like, "Whoa, look at that. Look at that." Brown butter is a hole-in-one. It's a guaranteed slam dunk. I may or may not have crossed my sports references here, but you get the point: Brown butter is wonderful.

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Photo by Mark Weinberg

Brown butter is what happens when you allow butter's milk solids to caramelize, and the step walks a fine line: Butter browns right before it burns. Those who've made brown butter and taken their eyes off the pan for five seconds know its testy nature, returning to black, burned bits.

More: Know your butter—clarified butter, that is.

Rest assured, though, making brown butter is easy as pie (seriously, look at this Brown Butter and Cheddar Apple Pie). And what's even more wonderful than the nutty, caramel-scented stuff itself is having brown butter on hand all the time. Yes, make-ahead brown butter is possible. Here's how:

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See those milky solids? That's what browns and caramelizes! Photos by James Ransom

1. Make brown butter like in this video. Use one stick! Use two! Or even three! Start by melting butter over medium-low to low heat. A pan with a light-colored bottom will help you keep track of the butter's color. Make sure to swirl the pan occasionally to ensure even caramelization. Remove from heat.

2. For make-ahead, storable brown butter, pour the butter into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Mason or Weck jars work well for this. Let cool and place in the fridge, where it will re-solidify, or freeze it in ice cube trays for longer storage. If you've stored it in your fridge, use within one to two weeks, although brown butter never lasts that long in my house.

3. Use brown butter in place of butter in just about any recipe. You can add it to sauces, spoon it over steamed vegetables, or spread it onto toast or rolls. Or make an apple tart! Heck, this brown butter ice cream would make a slice of pie very happy.

Butter pecan ice cream gets a brown butter upgrade.
Butter pecan ice cream gets a brown butter upgrade. Photo by James Ransom

Now that you have all this brown butter just lying around, here's what you should make:

You're butter off savory.

Thomas Keller's Butternut Soup with Brown Butter, Sage, and Nutmeg Crème Fraîche

Thomas Keller's Butternut Soup with Brown Butter, Sage, a... by Genius Recipes

Brown Butter-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Arugula and Bacon

Brown Butter-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Arugula and Bacon by EmilyC

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter by Sarah Jampel

Weeknight Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Sage-Infused Brown Butter & Walnuts

Weeknight Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Sage-Infused Br... by cookinginvictoria

Or sweet (a.k.a. savory's butter half).

Brown Butter Cupcake Brownies

Brown Butter Cupcake Brownies by Phyllis Grant

Brown Butter Candied Apple Clafoutis

Brown Butter Candied Apple Clafoutis by Amanda Hesser

Paule Caillat's Brown Butter Tart Crust

Paule Caillat's Brown Butter Tart Crust by Genius Recipes

Brown Butter Blondies

Brown Butter Blondies by Phyllis Grant

Mango-Lime Trifle with Brown Butter Cake

Mango-Lime Trifle with Brown Butter Cake by JessicaBakes

Roasted Pear Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

Roasted Pear Cake with Browned Butter Glaze by Yossy Arefi

The holidays call for a boatload of butter, so we paired up with Organic Valley to share how to make a stockpile of its nuttier cousin. Organic Valley uses all organic, pasture-raised dairy in its products; see them all here.


Our magical menu genie will plan your holiay feast for you.