How to Make Clarified Butter

Learn how to make clarified butter (ghee), an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Clarified butter tastes great, lasts longer in the refrigerator, and has a higher smoke point for cooking.

Use clarified butter to make Hollandaise Sauce or drizzle it over your next bowl of hummus. It's also great for finishing steak or on top of mashed potatoes.

Learn how to make clarified butter (ghee), an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Clarified butter tastes great, lasts longer in the refrigerator, and has a higher smoke point for cooking.
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When you make clarified butter, you skim milk solids off the top of melted butter and leave released water in the bottom of the pan. The stuff in the middle, the liquid gold, is 100% pure butterfat.

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

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

  1. Start by melting unsalted butter over low heat. Very low heat. If the butter boils, the milk solids get dispersed throughout the fat and you won't be able to skim them off.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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.

How to Make Clarified Butter

Learn how to make clarified butter (ghee), an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Clarified butter tastes great, lasts longer in the refrigerator, and has a higher smoke point for cooking.
4.92 from 12 votes
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Course: Pantry
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 ounces
Calories: 203kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 1 pound unsalted butter

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

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. Malligator

    Thanks for this simple technique. It really made a difference improving my steaks.5 stars

  2. 1eye

    Made this last night. I used Amish butter, no idea what the butter fat content was. When I was done I took the solids, and a hearty tablespoon of of the clarified butter out to the grill. I grilled up a couple steaks and then when they were done I put them on a resting plate and took the solids and clarified butter, dumped into a cast iron pan on the grill.

    Let it brown up slightly then spooned it overtop the resting steaks. Delicious!5 stars

  3. JASON

    I thought clarified butter went bad faster?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Jason, no. Clarified butter is really similar (but not identical) to ghee. Once you take out the protein and water, you are left with pure butter fat which lasts longer. I’ve actually seen other websites say that once you clarify the butter, you can leave it at room temperature, in the pantry, for a month. Personally I don’t feel comfortable doing that. They also say you can keep it in the fridge for up to a year… I wouldn’t do that either. But it lasts longer than regular butter. Thanks! -Meggan

  4. Sarah

    Why do I need to use unsalted butter?

    1. meggan

      Hi Sarah, you don’t. I need to fix that. I used to be of the opinion that salted butter is better because “every company makes salted butter differently, you don’t know how much salt is in there, blah blah blah control the salt in your recipe by starting with unsalted butter.”

      I now have the unpopular opinion that salted butter is just fine everywhere. My main reason is, I hate running out of salted butter and having to use unsalted butter on my toast. And furthermore, have you ever tried a butter and felt like – WOW THIS IS JUST TOO SALTY. No? Me neither. They pretty much all taste the same, I’ve never had an overly salty butter. Yes the companies make them different but it’s just a commodity and no one is jarringly different.

      This opinion isn’t reflected in every post yet, but I’ll go update this recipe. Sorry for that and thanks for listening. /end rant -Meggan :)

  5. Joseph Kessler

    I always wondered how they made ghee, I sure have eaten a lot of Indian food that contained it but I never knew the process of how to make it. Thanks for your description!5 stars

  6. Elissa Sangi

    So what’s the CLARIFIED BUTTER? The stuff you skim off the top or what’s underneath it?
    Fifty years ago I was taught to melt the butter and skim off the top. What you skim off the top is the CLARIFIED BUTTER. However, you don’t specify.

    1. meggan

      Hi Elissa, sorry this wasn’t clear. You skim off the top of the foam (milk solids) and discard it, and the yellow liquid (which looks a lot like oil), the fat, is the clarified butter. I hope this helps! Sorry for the confusion. I’ll fix the post. Thanks! -Meggan

  7. 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!

  8. 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

  9. 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

    1. Georgina

      where do you buy Lurpak butter. I live in N.Y.

    2. meggan

      Hi Georgina, it looks like you can order it from igourmet.com. I personally haven’t used this site (or the butter) but I see it listed there with people who seem to have purchased it recently and love it.

      https://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/search.aspx?qry=lurpak

      Good luck! -Meggan

  10. MaryAnn

    🤗👌 Thanks!

  11. 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!

  12. 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. Sheylenna

      I would assume that if you can’t find the more expensive butter in the store that if you make your own with heavy/whipping cream it would be like getting the more expensive imported butter because it is probably a higher fat content. I do know that homemade butter tastes better than storebought even the expensive stuff. Here’s s question is raw milk/cream any better for making butter than the pasteurized/homogenized stuff? And is pasteurized and unhomegonized better or worse?4 stars

    2. 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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