Tips & Techniques

Fry French Toast in Ghee for Buttery Flavor Without the Burnt Bits

March 24, 2017

You know how the first piece of French toast or pancake is just a test-run? You probably won't have the patience to wait for the pan and the butter to reach the right temperature before you add the batter (I never do), so the first candidate is blonde and floppy, destined to be devoured in two bites as you flip the others.

(By the way, this is also a funny-cruel way to refer to the eldest child: They're just your first pancake!)

If you're lucky, you'll then have a series of crisp-edged and caramel-brown pancakes or toasts, but these are often followed by those that are burnt on the surface and raw in the middle. These tail-end specimens are the result of a pan that's too hot, butter that's too browned, along with the incinerated particles of earlier batches.

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To avoid the issue of burning pancakes—or French toast or fried toast or grilled cheesefry in ghee, not butter.

Using ghee or clarified butter will allow you to pan-fry the brioche at a high temperature without burning the milk solids in the butter.
Patricia Wells

It's a tip we found in the recipe for Blueberry and Orange Blossom French Toast in Patricia Wells' book, My Master Recipes. (It's full of all sorts of similarly smart kitchen know-how, like how to simplify stock-making and put the water your mozzarella comes a-bobbing in to good use.)

Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter because the milk solids—which are the heat-sensitive components—have been extracted and strained out in the process of clarification. Alternatively, you can fry in mild vegetable oil, like safflower or sunflower, for similar results, though you will sacrifice that buttery flavory.

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Top Comment:
“The vanilla ghee is perfect for the French toast or pancakes.”
— Catie B.

And, of course, frying in ghee is no novel practice by any means. Food52 community member Panfusine has pointed out that ghee is a popular choice for deep-frying Indian desserts and confections, and passpartout noted that it's useful in all sorts of sautéing and deep-frying.

Since a jar of ghee will keep longer in your fridge than a stick of butter, it's useful to keep it on hand for whenever the pancake or French toast impulse hits.

What's your favorite use for ghee? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Catie B
    Catie B
  • tamater sammich
    tamater sammich
  • Sara Branscum
    Sara Branscum
  • Whiteantlers
  • Panfusine
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Catie B. April 2, 2017
I figured this out quite sometime ago, as I worked to remove the dairy/lactose, and was pleased with the results. I found some various flavored ghees from vanilla, white truffle, garlic, to Himalayan salt, that adds flavor to the dishes you cook. The vanilla ghee is perfect for the French toast or pancakes.
tamater S. April 2, 2017
I'm perfectly willing to stand corrected on this, but I find that with experience with, and close attention to, cooking temperatures/levels, I never burn my stuff. There was a time though, from leaving home in my teens till about 25, that I burned a LOT, (why I love a 52 member handle here; "burnt offerings") and this is when I could afford it the least. Although it's much easier to perfect the art with gas than with electric, it can be done, and in my opinion, it's well worth learning with both. Carry on with your ghee, I'm 'just sayin' is all. :-)
Sara B. March 24, 2017
Clarified butter is my choice. When I prepare three quarters of a pound it lasts a long time in a jar in the refrigerator. I use classic instructions from Julia Child.
Whiteantlers March 24, 2017
My best friend puts ghee in her coffee and loves it.
Panfusine March 24, 2017
Ghee rocks.. I've been known to slather my toast with ghee in lieu of butter, confers a wonderful nutty flavor.