How to Make Clarified Butter

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see our affiliate policy.

Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Clarified butter has a more concentrated, richer flavor, lasts longer in the refrigerator, and has a higher smoke point for cooking.

A pot of clarified butter.

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.

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

This recipe is not for Ghee, specific type of clarified butter that is shelf-stable at room temperature, although I cover the differences and how to make it in the FAQ section.

Recipe ingredients

Ingredient needed to make clarified butter.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Better butter: The best butter for clarifying is 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). After clarifying some store-brand or other inexpensive butters, I was left with what looked like a pan of yellow water. Not appetizing! 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.
  • Butter solids: You can lightly brown the butter solids (the layer you scooped off the top) 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.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. 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.
Skimming solids off the top of clarified butter.
  1. 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).
Skimming solids off the top of clarified butter.
  1. 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.
A pot of clarified butter.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: 1 pound of butter yields about 12 ounces of clarified butter.
  • Storage: Store clarified butter in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  • Freezer: Pack in a freezer-safe container, label, date, and freeze clarified butter for up to 6 months.
  • Serving suggestions: Drizzle hot clarified butter over your next steak or beef roast for extra richness. Or, try on pancakes and roasted vegetables (especially potatoes). Clarified butter is also an ingredient in some Hollandaise recipes.

Recipe FAQs

Are clarified butter and ghee the same thing?

Clarified butter and ghee are almost the same thing. They are both regular butter with the milk and water solids removed (leave pure butterfat). Ghee is a particular type of clarified butter normally used in Indian cooking.

How do you make ghee?

Clarified butter is often made by melting butter, skimming off the foam, and leaving the water in the bottom of the pan. Ghee, however, is boiled rapidly until the water in the butter actually boils off and the milk proteins brown. You strain the ghee to remove the milk solids and the resulting butterfat, ghee, is pure and can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months or 1 year in the refrigerator.

What is the smoking point of clarified butter?

Because clarified butter is pure butterfat, it has a higher smoke point (about 450 degrees) compared to regular butter (about 350 degrees).

Is clarified butter shelf-stable?

The clarified butter method in this recipe does not produce shelf-stable butter and must be kept in the refrigerator. Ghee, which has been boiled for at least 10 minutes to remove the water, and then strained to completely remove all milk solids, is the shelf-stable version for up to 3 months or can be refrigerated for up to 1 year.

Eggs Benedict

Yes you can master how to make poached eggs and homemade hollandaise for Eggs Benedict. I’ll show you how to make this classic breakfast recipe in just 20 minutes.

20 minutes
View Recipe

More ways to enjoy clarified butter

A pot of clarified butter.

How to Make Clarified Butter

Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Clarified butter has a more concentrated, richer flavor, lasts longer in the refrigerator, and has a higher smoke point for cooking.
Author: Meggan Hill
4.99 from 67 votes
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 12 ounces
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Calories 271

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.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Better butter: The best butter for clarifying is 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). After clarifying some store-brand or other inexpensive butters, I was left with what looked like a pan of yellow water. Not appetizing! 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.
  2. Butter solids: You can lightly brown the butter solids (the layer you scooped off the top) 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. 
  3. Yield: 1 pound of butter yields about 12 ounces of clarified butter.
  4. Storage: Store clarified butter in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  5. Freezer: Pack in a freezer-safe container, label, date, and freeze clarified butter for up to 6 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 271kcalCarbohydrates: 0.02gProtein: 0.3gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 4mgPotassium: 9mgSugar: 0.02gVitamin A: 945IUCalcium: 9mgIron: 0.01mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

Culinary School Secrets
Pro-level tricks to transform your cooking!

You May Also Like

Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. I have tried 3 times to get my clarified butter to no avail. I’m 78 years old and my patience is running short. I get 3 layers in my sauce pan. Skim the top layer. Remove the “gold” middle layer and discard the bottom. I put the gold in a tall clear glass bottle with a stopper spout. I then place the bottle on the counter next to an identical bottle with olive oil. The next morning, my butter bottle has solidified and turned white. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hi Charlie, sorry you are having some struggles with clarified butter. Sounds like you did it exactly right, though! Clarified butter is solid at room temperature. If you heat it up, it will liquify and turn back to that beautiful color. Hope this helps! Take care! – Meggan

View all comments