5 Ingredients or Fewer

Brown Butter Tomatoes

August 23, 2012
10 Ratings
Photo by Joseph DeLeo
  • Serves 4 as a first course, 2 as a light lunch
Author Notes

It happened at a picnic, while talking about whether or not a salad of tomatoes, peaches, and mozzarella, was a new idea. Peter said it was. I said not. Which is the usual childish direction our conversations go -- "No-ooo!" "Yes!" "Never!" "Wrong!" Peter wisely changed the subject to an even newer tomato concept he'd recently encountered at Lulu & Po: sliced fresh tomatoes, dappled with brown butter, salt, and pepper. He had me (for once!) -- I'd never heard of brown butter tomatoes.

How can you resist something called Brown Butter Tomatoes? I had to try them, which I did at our last photo shoot. You won't believe how easy they are, how close you are to summertime bliss just reading these words. Start walking to your kitchen. Slice a tomato. Beefsteak is best. One-third inch thick slices -- half-inch is too thick, one-quarter is too thin. Get out your ruler if you must. Overlap the slices on the plate you'll devour them from. Brown the butter and grab a spoon. As you spoon the butter over the tomatoes, listen: they sizzle! Shower them with a flaky salt, grind over some pepper. And have at them. As Merrill noted, the tomatoes and butter together are mysteriously, deliciously reminiscent of lobster with melted butter. The richness. The sweet, tender flesh. The exquisite burst of summer. —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 2 large or 3 small ripe beefsteak tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Flaky sea salt, like Maldon
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Baguette or other country bread, for mopping up the butter
  1. Core the tomatoes and slice them 1/3-inch thick. Divide the tomato slices among 4 plates, overlapping the slices just a little.
  2. Place the butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over medium low heat. Let the butter melt completely. It will begin bubbling. Let the butter simmer away, cooking off its water, until it begins to smell nutty and brown. Swirl the pan every 30 seconds or so. When the butter turns the color of a hazelnut, remove it from the heat. Use a soup spoon to ladle it over the tomatoes. They'll sizzle! You want to dress the tomatoes with the butter as if you were pouring ganache over a cake -- be generous!
  3. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper, then rush the plates to the table so everyone can taste the tomatoes while the butter is hot! Mop up the butter and tomato juices with good bread. Toast to summer!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sharon Hanna
    Sharon Hanna
  • bobbe
  • Jasser Abu-Giemi
    Jasser Abu-Giemi
  • Chef Devaux
    Chef Devaux
  • Susan W
    Susan W
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

57 Reviews

Sharon H. September 6, 2020
Sounds amazing - and can hardly wait. My tomatoes aren't ripening very well....and mostly the ones that are, are cherry types like Sungold. I'm sure it would be swell with them, and love the idea of grits with it as well.....
Barbara September 5, 2020
I made some grits this morning and sliced a beefsteak tomato on top. I then poured the hot browned butter over the tomatoes. I sprinkled some flaky salt and fresh ground pepper on top. One of the best breakfasts I have had in a long time.
Amanda H. September 5, 2020
Wow -- now that sounds amazing! We happened to have leftover grits in our fridge so I'm making this tomorrow!
Barbara August 31, 2020
I just made this for breakfast. I did not have the exact ingredients but I decided to try it anyway. It was so good I may make it again tomorrow. I browned the butter with a pinch of fresh thyme. I toasted a sandwich flat, sliced a ripe plum tomato and placed it on top of the bread. I then poured the hot butter over the top. The sizzle was exciting. The bread soaked up the butter and tomato juices. Wonderful.
Amanda H. August 31, 2020
Thanks for giving it a try!
Jennifer S. August 3, 2020
I saw the video on Instagram. It looked amazing and the sizzle sound of the butter hitting the tomatoes was too good not to try.
People you have to try this! The lobster remark is true and you HAVE to have crusty bread at the ready! I am spreading the word to all my cooking friends to make this.
Amanda H. August 16, 2020
Thanks, Jennifer!
bobbe August 19, 2018
I've taken to dumping the complete sizzle on top of perfectly cooked pasta (plenty of water and salt in the cooking water, al dente) . . . and we can't get enough of it.
Amanda H. August 16, 2020
Love this idea!
Kate W. August 19, 2018
Read this and went straight to kitchen to try with our perfect Cherokee Purples! Luscious is all I can say besides wow, how easy! I love the idea of crisping sage leaves in the butter. Fresh tomatoes with hot nutty butter. Ummm. Will make again and again. Thanks!!
Amanda H. August 19, 2018
So glad to hear this -- I made this last night, too!
bobbe July 25, 2018
In my family, the tomato slices are dredged in flour and sauteed in a generous portion of butter until nicely browned. A splatter of milk and quick stir, salt and pepper, viola: tomato gravy for covering sliced in half biscuits. Always, fresh corn on the cob along side. A generous licking of fingers and sucking the juice from the cob. Ahhh, summertime when the living is easy.
Amanda H. August 1, 2018
Indeed! My grandmother used to make a recipe like this, too. So good!
Jasser A. December 6, 2016
My GOD this was good.
Amanda H. August 16, 2020
Now that's the kind of comment every food writer hopes for. :)
Chef D. November 27, 2015
it seems too simple...
teddybaehr September 3, 2015
Thanks for this recipe as I have now eaten more sticks of butter than I care to count. It sounds so simple, how can it be this amazing!
Amanda H. September 3, 2015
Thanks for your note -- I'm making it tomorrow night!
Susan W. August 3, 2014
I finally tried this as our local heirloom tomatoes are peaking. Amazeballs!! I totally get the lobster reference.
JadeTree June 30, 2014
If anyone you recommend this to thinks it is high church to butter tomatoes, tell them that this is the Sistine Chapel. Absolutely divine with the first summer tomatoes from the farm. This will be a family tradition!
Andrea E. June 30, 2014
This is so amazing! I am dreaming of making it again tonight.
GinaP June 27, 2014
omg. just had this for lunch and it was AMAZINGGG. I used both red and green tomatoes and feta instead of sea salt, and the only thing I can say is I would coat BOTH sides of the green tomatoes with butter (flip them halfway through your butter pour) if you like them a little softer. YUM
Amanda H. June 29, 2014
Thanks for this tip!
Laura S. June 8, 2014
I made this tonight to test it out for tomorrow when I will be making it for 8 as a side at lunch. So. Good. Flaky salt is a must. Thank you!!
Rachel August 25, 2013
Made these with yellow tomatoes tonight. Luxurious.
Amanda H. August 25, 2013
I made them tonight, too! Was thinking next time I'd like to try it with halved cherry tomatoes.
Demington August 14, 2013
Really lovely. Thanks, Amanda.
Amanda H. August 14, 2013
Thanks for trying it out.
Morrissex August 13, 2013
This recipe brings me memories of my childhood at my grandmother's home. She used to make home-baked bread, which I used to eat along with butter, a slice of tomato and cilantro.
blanchette August 7, 2013
AMAZING!!!! I dressed the plate with a single layer of fresh red leaf lettuce straight from my little garden, Cherokee tomatoes on top, brown butter (yum!), topped with fresh parsley and basil right out of the garden...heaven on a plate :0)
Amanda H. August 11, 2013
Glad you liked it so much!
Lisa August 7, 2013
I like the recipe. I like to add fresh sage leaves to the browned butter until crisp and garnish the tomato slices with them.
Amanda H. August 11, 2013
Great idea -- I'm going to try it.