Bakers swoon about browned butter. They swear by the sweet, nutty depth this simple extra step adds to their cookies, breads, and well, pumpkin gnocchi drenched in delicious brown butter sage sauce. Browned butter is what you get when you melt butter down until the water is cooked out and the milk solids separate and turn a golden brown.
People can mess it up with impatience, by multitasking, and by leaving the pan on the heat too long and burning the butter. Don’t do those things.
Let’s check out the steps.
- Grab a lightly colored medium-sized skillet or pan. A black pan, like cast iron, will disguise the color of the butter. White or silver, like a stainless steel pan, is better. Place cold or room-temperature butter in the pan. Set to medium heat. Watch it melt. Don’t leave it.
- Wait until you hear the butter crackle and pop (a little like that cereal with the elves).That’s the water coming out of the butter. Foam may appear as the butterfat releases the milk solids. Once the popping and snapping abates, the milk solids are forming. They’ll turn into light-brown little specks on the bottom of the pan. Use a heat-proof (metal or wood) spoon or spatula to stir the browning milk solids so they brown slowly and uniformly.
- Remove the pan from the heat once you see the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn golden-brown. The butter will continue to cook off the heat, so pour the butter from the hot pan into a heat-safe dish. Once that butter has turned golden, your butter is … golden. You can strain out the sediment at the bottom of the butter if you want. Now go forth and use your beautiful, fragrant, nutty browned butter in a recipe.
Try some of our recipes with your browned butter.
1. Zucchini Brown-Butter Cornbread
This is zucchini bread with a double twist: brown butter and cornmeal. So there’s more sweet nutty flavor in there. Get our Zucchini Brown-Butter Cornbread recipe.
2. Buttermilk and Brown Butter Waffles
Waffles are a great weekend brunch idea that you can make even better with browned butter. Of course we still love waffles with cold pats of butter that melt atop the the waffle, but this way, you can show off. Get our Buttermilk and Brown Butter Waffles recipe.
3. Orecchiette with Sausage, Brown Butter, and Sage
This simple pasta packs complex flavor with the spicy sausage, nutty brown butter, sweet herby sage, and salty pecorino cheese. Get our Orecchiette with Sausage, Brown Butter, and Sage recipe.
4. Brown Butterscotch Pie
Allowing the butter and sugar cook longer transforms a classic butterscotch pie into a toasty, nutty dessert that has some gravity to offset the sweetness of the caramel. Get our Brown Butterscotch Pie recipe.
5. Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
— Head Photo: Last Ingredient.
Amy Sowder is the assistant editor at Chowhound in New York City. She loves cheesy things, especially toasties and puns. She’s trying to like mushrooms. Her running habit is the excuse for her gelato passion. Or is it the other way around? Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and her blog, What Do I Eat Now. Learn more at AmySowder.com.