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.

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.

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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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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.
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 ounces
Calories 203 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm butter without boiling or agitation of any kind.
  2. 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.
  3. When the butter is melted, skim the milk solids from the top using a ladle or slotted spoon.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Adapted from "Procedure for Clarifying Butter" in On Cooking.

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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.

2 comments

  1. 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!

    • 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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