Learn how to make brown butter using an easy French technique that turns regular butter into an incredibly aromatic, sophisticated ingredient you can use in savory and sweet dishes.
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The intoxicating nutty aroma of brown butter is a delightful preview of how it can transform both savory and sweet dishes from good to extraordinary. This easy French “sauce,” which is called beurre noisette in French—literally “hazelnut butter” because of its color—was traditionally used in vegetable and fish dishes, but it’s now used in an array of recipes, from simple fried eggs to sophisticated financiers.
This easy, classic French technique can be performed by any home cook. Using brown butter in recipes is guaranteed to take your dishes to the next level! Learn what brown butter is, how to make it, and how to use it in your favorite recipes, as well as in new ones, too.
See how quick and easy it is to make brown butter in this short video!
Brown butter is butter that is melted and cooked until it turns brown—or “hazelnut” color, if you prefer. As the butter melts, the butterfat and milk solids separate, and these solids fall to the bottom of the pan. As the butter gently simmers, the milk solids cook and eventually turn a cinnamon or toasty hazelnut shade and release a unique nutty aroma.
Brown butter is basically a one-ingredient sauce that can be used in its delicious liquid state as a sauce or garnish over fish, pasta, or risotto. Brown butter can also be cooled back to a solid form and used as regular butter would be. Solidified brown butter provides an incredible depth of flavor to baked goods such as financiers and clafoutis.
Classic French financiers made with brown butter.
Making brown butter is so easy! All you need is butter and a stainless-steel pan or skillet, which makes it easier to watch over the color of the butter changing. Simply melt the butter in the pan over medium heat, then bring it to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring with a spatula, a wooden spoon, or a whisk, until the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn a nicely toasty hazelnut brown. The time it takes varies according to the quantity of butter and the size of the pan you’re using, but it’s usually done in just a few minutes.
Once the butter is aromatic and brown, you transfer it to a bowl to stop the cooking process. Always make sure to scrape down all those brown bits from the bottom of the pan, because that’s where the flavor is!
One of the best features of brown butter is that it’s incredibly versatile. You can use it in savory contexts, such as salad dressings and sauces, pasta and risotto, fish dishes, and vegetable side dishes.
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Brown Butter and Sage
The nutty flavor of brown butter also works wonders in desserts. Beurre noisette is the central ingredient in French financiers, and it’s also delicious in baked goods requiring the use of melted butter, such as blondies. You can also swap in cooled, solidified brown butter into recipes that use regular, room-temperature butter to add an extra flavor dimension—think chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, crumbles, and more. You can even use it to make buttercream!
Once you know how easy it is to make brown butter, you will want to use it in each and every dish—and that’s a good thing. There are very few dishes that won’t be improved with a spoonful (or a half cup!) of brown butter.
Here are recipes that make the most of the incredible aroma and flavor of brown butter.
Find even more brown butter recipe inspiration in my recipe collection,
Try making these classic desserts by substituting regular butter with liquid or solidified beurre noisette. You might never go back!
When a single ingredient is the spotlight of a recipe, I always say buy the best quality you can afford. It’s certainly true in the case of brown butter: in the savory context, you use it as a sauce or as a finishing touch on dishes, so the flavor of the butter is front and center.
The best kind of butter with which to make brown butter is therefore high-quality butter. I prefer European-style butters, which often have a higher butterfat content than most mass-market butter brands. I recommend using unsalted butter as well, especially when using brown butter in desserts, so you can fully control the level of seasoning in your finished dish.
I have a hard time thinking of ingredients that would not pair deliciously with brown butter, but some ingredients are quite simply perfect matches:
Pour brown butter into an airtight container or jar. Refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 1 month.
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Author: Marie Asselin
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