How to Make Clarified Butter

Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Use it for Hollandaise and many other recipes.

I had one goal the first time I made clarified butter: To make Hollandaise Sauce.

But, there are actually a lot useful reasons to clarify butter. By removing the milk solids and water from whole butter, you’re left with 100% pure butterfat.

Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Use it for Hollandaise and many other recipes.

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This means a higher smoke point, a longer shelf life, and a more versatile substance great for making everything from stir-fries to sauces.

Start by melting unsalted butter over low heat. Very low heat.

If your butter boils, the milk solids get dispersed throughout the fat and you won’t be able to skim them off.

Next, skim off the foamy milk solids that rose to the top.

Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Use it for Hollandaise and many other recipes.

Last, ladle the butterfat from the saucepan in to a second (clean) saucepan or another vessel for holding. Be sure to leave the water in the bottom of the original saucepan (it will look like a white, milky substance).

What you’re left with is pure butterfat. It doesn’t have the same rich, buttery flavor as whole butter, but it doesn’t turn rancid in the refrigerator, either. (At least not for several months).

Use a Better Butter

I have clarified several types of butter at home, and the best by far is the European-style, imported butter. These butters usually contain more milk fat than American butter (82% to 86% milk fat in European vs. 80% to 82% in American).

Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Use it for Hollandaise and many other recipes.

After clarifying some store-brand or other inexpensive butters, I was left with what looked like a pan of yellow water. Not appetizing!

So, just keep your goals in mind. If you are clarifying butter to make a delicious Hollandaise Sauce, choose a delicious butter (since Hollandaise Sauce is mostly butter). But If you’re clarifying butter to make a stir-fry, the quality won’t be quite as important.

5 from 3 votes

How to Make Clarified Butter

Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Use it for Hollandaise and many other recipes.
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Keyword butter, clarified butter
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 ounces
Calories 203kcal
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, warm butter without boiling or agitation of any kind.
  • As the butter melts, the solids rise to the top and water sinks to the bottom. Sometimes the solids appear to bubble up from the bottom.
  • When the butter is melted, skim the milk solids from the top using a ladle or slotted spoon (see notes for ideas of what to do with the solids).
  • When the skim solids have been removed, transfer the butterfat to a clean saucepan or bowl using a ladle. Leave the water in the bottom of the original saucepan.
  • 1 pound of whole butter will yield approximately 12 ounces clarified butter. The clarified butter can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer.

Recipe Notes

  1. Adapted from "Procedure for Clarifying Butter" in On Cooking.
  2. To put your butter solids to use, lightly brown them in a small amount of clarified butter to make "browned butter." Then, add to cookies, vegetables, soups, mashed potatoes for extra butter flavor, or use as a condiment on bread. 

Nutrition

Calories: 203kcal

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  1. Taylor

    Can homemade butter be clarified? I just made some last night from whipping cream. Can I clarify it now? I can’t see why not, but I just want to be sure. Thank you

    1. meggan

      Like you, I can’t see why not! I never tried that but it seems like it would work just fine. Good luck!

  2. Soumya

    Happy to be explore your webpage! Clarified Butter is base for lot of Indian Cooking. It has lot of health benefits. Thanks for this post.5 stars

  3. Ole

    Get Danish “Lurpak”, it is the worlds best Butter, a pretty good reason, why most Bakery’s around the world use it ;)5 stars

  4. MaryAnn

    🤗👌 Thanks!

  5. MaryAnn

    Hi Meggan, thanks for the “how to” and what to use to achieve a really great result!  Imported, unsalted is available in my city so, no problem.  Thanks for listing the butterfat content – that is very helpful.  How do you use the skimmed off milk fat and “water” so I don’t have to throw it away?  Thank you again.

    1. Ole

      Continue browning them until you have toasted butter solids. Those can be added to everything: Cookies, Vegetables, Sauces, anything where you want a little delicious browned butter flavor :)

    2. meggan

      Hi MaryAnn! Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. I honestly haven’t figured out what to do with the extra butter products (water and fat), but now that you mention it, I should definitely figure that out. I will comment again as soon as I have some ideas! Working on it now. :) Thank you!

  6. Rehanna

    1) Will this work for butter on popcorn? 2) Does the butter have to be unsalted? We get no name butter from the store but its always salted b/c the unsalted one is always sold out or too expensive….3) Also, i know you said that the brand of the butter is important but I’m from Vancouver and the general grocery stores don’t have too many different brands -i havent paid too much attention but Im not sure if we would have the european ones here. 

    Thank you!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Rehanna! Thanks for your questions! Yes, this butter would be AMAZING on popcorn. The butter does not have to be unsalted. In the US salted and unsalted butters are typically the same price, but I would probably never buy unsalted if it cost more, ha ha! Regarding the brands, I only said that because when I clarify expensive butter vs. cheap butter, there is a huge difference in how it behaves and looks and tastes. But, it’s not a deal-breaker by ANY means, so if you clarify some butter and you like it, that’s really all that matters! And if you’re putting it on popcorn, it’s going to be delicious no matter what! Please let me know if you have any other questions. :)

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