Extra-Browned Brown Butter Shrimp

April 19, 2023
1 Ratings
Photo by Mandy Lee
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

Do you know why browned butter tastes so nutty and rich? It’s because butter contains milk liquids that evaporate during cooking, and the remaining proteins become caramelized solids. It’s these toasted, sandy bits that make browned butter precious. And what are these precious bits if not former milk? (You see where I’m going with this.) By adding milk to butter before browning, you’ll be able to double the amount of these yummy brown bits, making the butter extra rich and intensely nutty. This method can be used in any recipe that calls for browned butter, but only making them even butter, I mean, better.

One of my favorite ways to utilize extra-brown browned butter is simple and requires only one other ingredient: head-on prawns. The nutty and almost toffee-like aroma of the browned butter is a match made in with whatever it is that's inside a shrimp's head. They are meant to be together. Mop up any extra browned butter with the shrimp, and soak the rest up with rice or bread; drink it if you must. —Mandy @ Lady and pups

What You'll Need
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Extra-Browned Brown Butter Shrimp
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into large cubes
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 8 to 10 large, head-on prawns or shrimp
  1. Combine butter, whole milk, and sea salt in a small nonstick pot. Cook over medium to medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until all the excess liquid has evaporated, the butter starts to get foamy on the surface, and the milk solids have turned rich golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Immediately transfer into a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside until needed.
  2. Using scissors, cut the back of the shrimp open and remove the central vein. With a small knife, make a deeper slit along the back of the shrimp to open the flesh up (do not cut through). Season with salt and let marinate for 10 minutes, then pat dry thoroughly with a paper towel and set aside.
  3. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until it’s almost smoking. (The heat should be high enough that the shrimp shells will brown after just 30 seconds.) Using a spoon, skim off 4 tablespoons of the browned butter, leaving the browned bits on the bottom. Add the skimmed butter to the skillet. Add the shrimp, and cook for 30 seconds. Turn the shrimp, and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the remaining browned butter with all the browned bits to the skillet, cooking for another 30 seconds, tossing the shrimp so they are evenly coated. Transfer to a warmed plate and enjoy immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lisasix
  • Virginia
  • Mandy @ Lady and pups
    Mandy @ Lady and pups

4 Reviews

Lisasix May 22, 2023
Could I also achieve this using heavy cream to make the brown butter instead of milk?
Virginia May 23, 2023
Cream should work well. Check out this article. It doesn't address this particular technique, but pretty close. Based on the suggestions, I cooked cherry tomatoes in cream and it turned into brown buttery goodness. https://food52.com/recipes/81961-caramelized-cream-eggs-from-ideas-in-food
Virginia April 23, 2023
Mandy — when making brown butter, I add a tablespoon of powdered milk per stick. It increases the milk solids just like your 3 tablespoons of liquid milk. With less evaporation time. When doing an extra large batch, it makes a difference!
Also, have you ever tried toasting powdered milk? It's phenomenal. You can cook with it. Sweet or savory. Add it to cake or waffle batter, cookie dough, mashed potatoes... anything! Or sprinkle it on steamed vegetables (or ice cream?) for an instant upgrade. It's like if MSG went through the looking glass, it might emerge in the alternate universe as toasted milk powder.
Mandy @. April 24, 2023
Hi Virginia, thanks! I know about the milk powder alternative but it’s not an ingredient everyone has at home (not baby formula but pure milk powder). But milk is something everyone has so I went with that one. Will try the toasted milk powder trick! Sounds cool.