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.

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.
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.

Recipe ingredients:

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.

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. Melt the butter over low heat. If the butter boils, the milk solids get dispersed throughout the fat and you won’t be able to skim them off. 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.
    2. 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).
      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.

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).

Put clarified butter to work:

 

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.
4.98 from 49 votes
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 12 ounces
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Calories 203

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.

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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 203kcal
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Comments

  1. Had heard of these words and/or process “clarified butter” for a long time, but never seemed to pay it no mind, for one reason, or another. So glad now that I finally discovered this wonderful golden ingredient, behind so many decadent recipes!5 stars

  2. What butter is the best butter to make the clarified butter (ghee) out of?
    How about the members mark sweet cream unsalted butter?

    1. Hi Kiran, 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). Hope this helps! – Meggan

  3. Nervous about the solids staying almost 100% at the bottom. The slotted spoon was too wide so I switched to a stainless steel serving spoon from my flatware set with smaller holes. I ended up wasting a little of the clarified butter because I didn’t want the solids coming out.

  4. Why would a baking recipe call for both clarified butter and milk. It doesn’t seem to be a higher smoke point issue if you add milk back in. Couldn’t you just increase the butter and decrease the milk to get the about the same oil/water/milk balance?

  5. Used clarified butter(cb) to make chicken Milanese. The cb turned darker after the first 3 cutlets and continued to darken through 8 cutlets I cooked. Was the flame to high or is the cooking life of cb short?5 stars

    1. Hi Rich, chicken Milanese sounds delicious! Clarified butter will continue to brown as it is exposed to heat. If you were able to get through the cutlets and nothing burned, I don’t think your flame was too high. – Meggan

    2. Just add olive oil to your clarified butter to help increase the longevity of the butter to keep from burning. Hope this helps.

  6. Well, I’m so confused! I used Kerrygold butter (that’s what your pic looked like you were using)…that’s the only thing I did different from last year and I’m not getting anything on the top to skim off. There’s a TINY bit but really nothing much. I didn’t let it boil and I didn’t stir it so I don’t know what went wrong?? I’m trying to make clarified butter for a lobster party tomorrow night. Any ideas??

    1. Hi Kelly, I’m sorry the butter is giving you so much trouble! I think your heat may not be high enough, while you don’t want the butter to boil and disperse the milk solids, it does need to be high enough for the butter to separate out the water and the solids from the fat. A lobster party sounds AMAZING! – Meggan

  7. Thanks, Meggan for sharing such great information with us. There are many who don’t have a basic idea about what is the difference between ghee and clarified butter. I think your blog is going to help them a lot. Here you have used European style butter, but I think grass-fed butter which has been procured from 100% grass-fed cow’s milk will make better quality clarified butter. I personally prefer using such kinds of butter for making ghee at home. Recently I was reading a blog regarding what is clarified butter ghee, and I would love to share the information with you as well.

  8. Thank You! I appreciate that you are sharing your skill. I cannot afford Culinary School, therefore I’m grateful to find good quality sharing.

  9. I was researching clarified butter because I’m teaching my 7 year old grand daughter the basics of cooking. I want to make this with her. Your website explained everything fully and I am so grateful. You even have a video I can show her. My goal is for her to be able to fix dinner and desert for a family of 5 all by herself by the time she is 10 years old. We are approaching this from a scientific, or chemistry, awareness; why ingredients react the way they do when combined. I want her to know WHY she must do things a certain way. Thanks for your help with this process.

  10. I like the open vibes in your advice and responses. The discussion On clarified butter is good. I now know how to make brown butter, without burning it! Which I wouldn’t do.
    Also I was happy to communicate because you won’t share my email.

  11. Is it okay to just pour it through a fine mesh sieve to remove the solids or is there a reason we shouldn’t and it should be spooned off?

    1. Hi Jeannie, you can pour it through a fine mesh sieve to remove the solids, but the water that has separated is on the bottom. So you’d need to only pour as much as possible without disturbing the water on the bottom. That’s why we scoop off solids, so as not to disturb the bottom, but if you are careful it will work fine. Thanks! -Meggan

  12. This is a needly difficult and wasteful way to make clarified butter. The traditional high heat and cheese cloth filtration approach is much better.

    1. Hi Ben, how so? It is a very simple method, there is a step-by-step video you can follow! It is also the way I learned it in culinary school. – Meggan

  13. 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

    1. 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

    1. 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 :)

  14. 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

  15. 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. 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

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

  17. 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

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

  19. 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. 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!

    2. 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 :)

  20. 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. 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. :)

    2. 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