Butter

How to Make Clarified Butter (and Ghee)

February 19, 2013

Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. 

Today: See how simple it is to make your own clarified butter (and ghee), in step-by-step photos.

Finished butter

Clarified butter is the workhorse cooking fat of many a restaurant kitchen and culinary school -- some even keep it in big squeeze bottles for fast access. We think every home cook should know how to harness its potential too. (Maybe without the squeeze bottles.)

If you want to sear a steak or roast potatoes in something that tastes wholesome and good (like butter) and won't smoke or burn (like vegetable oil), clarified butter is your happy medium.

See how it's done -- if you can melt butter, you can clarify it:

Melting butter Melting butter 2

Melt your butter over low-ish heat, without stirring. See those milky solids foaming to the top? Those are what will smoke and burn around 250°F. They've gotta go.

Milk solids

You can skim them away with a spoon ...

Milk solids  Milk solids

... Or you can just wait for the solids to sink to the bottom, which makes it easier to pour off the clear golden fat. (When the solids brown, you get into the territory of ghee, which will have a nuttier flavor than clarified butter that hasn't browned at all.)

Straining  Straining

You can use a fine-mesh strainer -- or even a coffee filter -- to catch the bits.

The more of those milk solids you strain out, the longer it will keep. So if you're making a big amount to store, you may want to rig up an extra layer to strain through (using that coffee filter, or adding cheesecloth to your strainer). For most uses, just a simple strain like in our photos will do the trick.

Either way you remove the milk solids, don't let them go to waste! Spoon them onto bread or biscuits, or add them to your baking -- Food52er Panfusine recommends stirring the browned bits into rice.

Clarified butter

Here it is -- your golden ticket to smoke-free sautéing, searing, roasting, and frying (up to 485°F!). It will keep for months in the refrigerator or freezer. Now go make the world's crispiest potatoes to reap your reward.

Photos by James Ransom

19 Comments

Lea V. March 21, 2013
Will the clarified butter gel back up if refrigerated ?
 
Moe R. March 21, 2013
Ghee is not healthier than butter. It's butter minus the milk solids and the water. for a given measure, it has a few more calories.
 
LeilyAyleen March 20, 2013
Is ghee healthier than butter?
 
Moe R. March 21, 2013
Ghee is not healthier than butter. It's butter minus the milk solids and the water. for a given measure, it has a few more calories.
 
Moe R. February 20, 2013
If I use salted butter, will the salt stay with the water, making unsalted clarified butter?
 
Lost_in_NYC February 20, 2013
If you use salted butter, your ghee will be salted as well. Its best to go the 'unsalted' route so then you can control the amount of salt with your other ingredients if you are worried about salt content.
 
Panfusine February 20, 2013
I end up re using the pan in which the ghee was made for making broths (albeit in small quantities) fill up with water / stock up the the highest level where you see the brown bits, add your flavorings and allow the bits still sticking in the pan to incorporate their flavor into the liquid, It also makes for an easier cleaning of the pan
 
Zensister February 19, 2013
I just made ghee for the first time last night, and it's so much easier than I expected. The solids, sadly, were discarded since they are the very part of butter that makes my immune system revolt in the form of itchy patches. I mourn that loss!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. February 20, 2013
Great point for those who are lactose intolerant. At least the ghee itself is pretty wonderful too!
 
Lost_in_NYC February 19, 2013
This is exactly how my Indian mom does it! Another tip, pour the ghee in an air tight container and store it in the fridge for longer shelf life. Just take scoop out what you need and melt it over the stove or in a microwave to bring it back to liquid form.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. February 20, 2013
Such a great thing to have in the fridge at all times.
 
Cookie! February 19, 2013
I stirred those browned bits into a bowl of mashed potatoes after making ghee on Sunday evening. They were delicious!
 
Panfusine February 20, 2013
mashed potatoes sounds like a great idea Cookie, love it!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. February 20, 2013
Brilliant.
 
Kitchen B. February 19, 2013
I only learnt about saving the brown bits recently - they are divine in a crepe. Most times, I clarify my butter on the stove top, and occasionally I'll put it the microwave to make beurre noisette - the browner, nuttier version.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. February 20, 2013
Never thought to do it in the microwave, KB. What sort of vessel and cover do you use?
 
EatsMeetsWest February 19, 2013
This calls for a big squeeeeeee! Being an Indian myself, I never realized that I could make my own ghee at home (and it looks just like the fresh ghee from my grandfather's farm!). Frankly, I didn't realize that it was so easy either! I mean, this could save me a good amount of money from all the times we buy jars of ghee (which can who-knows-what kind of preservatives). <br /><br />Definitely going to make this when butter goes on sale. Sadly, I'll have to wait until then :c . I know ghee goes great on nice and fresh naan or roti, but the possibilities are really endless. Thanks so much for the DIY! :D
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. February 20, 2013
Glad to help!
 
Bucksnort January 16, 2014
Hey, Eats...<br />I don't think you are going to save much by making your own ghee, although I haven't penciled it out. Methinks you are going to take satisfaction in knowing exactly what's going into your system; allowing for your own salt levels and flavoring, etc. if it's economizing you are interested in I would suggest looking for bargains in "nearly expired" cream. Make your own butter (salt free of course) and go on from there. <br />