A little bird once told me that a certain Vancouver-based yoga pants company likes to ask challenging and creative questions during their interviews. One of these questions was “Describe a time you experienced a happy accident”. At the time that I heard of this interview question, I’d have had no idea how to answer it, and likely would have cried. Now, however, I totally have the best answer ever, and it’s my discovery of how to make Brown Butter Ghee.
I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a lazy cook. I don’t really like measuring, and often I’ll go and lay down or watch TV or a YouTube video while something’s on the stove or in the oven. (I don’t recommend doing this by the way, as it can totally burn your house down. My apartment is so tiny that regardless of what room I’m in, I’m always 4 feet from the stove, so even if something got serious, I could take care of it right away.)
I’m just not the kind of person who obsessively watches over something as it cooks, only to find that perfect point to remove it and halt the cooking process. Yes, this has landed me in trouble a number of times, and I’ve burnt my fair share of meals. I’ve learned that kitchen timers are my friend, as I can walk away, start to do something else, and then get beeped back into my cooking just in time to save my culinary masterpiece from becoming charred.
However, on this one fateful day when I became overcome with a desire to make ghee for the first time, I absent-mindedly forgot to set my kitchen timer before I walked away to go check my computer at the kitchen table. Immersed in what I was doing (most likely updating this website), I forgot all about my ghee simmering away on the stove. After several minutes, my kitchen began fill with a nutty fragrance, which prompted me back to my awareness of my kitchen duties.
I dashed to the stove, only to find my pot was not filled with the clear yellow oil of ghee, but instead the oil had turned a dark amber. Shit! I thought I totally burnt the oil, and I’d have to try again, this time paying much closer attention. However, my nose seemed to be telling a different story.
The fragrance of the oil was sweet, and caramel-like. Could it be I just had my happy accident? I had to put this to the test of another sense, so I grabbed a spoon, and dipped it into my caramel-butter-oil, let it cool, and then tasted the ghee. Holy smokes, it tasted like candy!
Since then I’ve intentionally made brown butter ghee a number of times. Like I’m slightly obsessed with it, and I put it in everything! A tablespoon goes into my Fattee Coffee every morning, it works perfectly for making chocolate fat bombs, and I put it in my pumpkin hemp porridge to make it extra rich as well. (Recipes coming soon!)
Why Ghee or Brown Butter Ghee?
I love butter, but as I’ve talked about in other posts, I have a sensitivity to milk so it’s best that I try to avoid it. A good alternative to butter is ghee. Ghee is technically butter, but it has been clarified, or cooked to the point that the milk solids separate from the oil, and then are removed. So technically, there is little to no dairy left in the ghee.
To get the most nutritional benefit from my brown butter ghee, I always ensure that I use butter from grass-fed cows. If you’re looking to increase your dietary fat but are avoiding dairy, then ghee is a great option for you as it has many of the same benefits as butter (when it comes from grass-fed cows), as it contains:
- CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, which helps reduce belly fat, protect against cancer and encourage muscle growth
- Vitamin K2, which is an important fat-soluble nutrient required for healthy teeth.
- Vitamin A to help maintain thyroid, adrenal and cardiovascular health
- Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that helps fight inflammation in the body.
In addition to the nutritional benefits, regular ghee has a much deeper, richer flavour than butter. Also, because it has the milk solids removed, it also has a higher smoke point, making it a great fat choice for higher-heat cooking.
On to the recipe…
Making ghee is super easy to do, all it requires is some patience, and a watchful eye (I’ve become a lot more attentive to my ghee when I make it despite my laissez faire attitude the first time I made it.) Read on if you want some step-by-step instructions on how to make some liquid gold ghee in your own kitchen.
I want to note that these instructions can be followed to make clarified butter, regular ghee, and my “happy-accident” brown butter ghee.
Supplies you’ll need:
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s really important to use grass-fed butter to make your ghee. I really like the butter by Rolling Meadow Dairy (yay, happy cows!) It’s really easy for me to get my paws on as my local Whole Foods is now carrying it, so I’d recommend checking with the Whole Foods nearest you to see if they carry it as well or can recommend an alternative. If you’re in the States, Kerry Gold butter is another good option for easy to find grass-fed butter.
Step 2: Cut your butter up into chunks, and add them to a heavy-bottom sauce pan. Set your stove to medium-heat, and begin to melt your butter. Give it a little stir if you want it to melt faster.
Step 3: Once your butter has completely melted, you want to bring it to a slight simmer. It will begin to foam.
Step 4: After around 15-20 minutes, the foam will start to dissipate, and you’ll begin to notice that the fat is starting to become clear. At this point the milk solids will start to slowly sink to the bottom of the sauce pan.
Step 5: Eventually you may find that your ghee no longer has any foam on top.
Step 6: After a few minutes, your ghee will begin to bubble and foam again. I take this as a sign that the milk solids have all sunk to the bottom of the pan and the water is now evaporating off of the butter. This is where you get to choose your own adventure…do you want to stop here and make clarified butter? Or continue on and make ghee, or brown butter ghee?
To make clarified butter: At this point, you need to be extra careful to make sure that the milk solids at the bottom of the pan do not begin to brown. Remove your pan from the heat, and use a spoon to remove the foam from the top of the oil. Then, using a cheese cloth and fine sieve strainer to catch the milk solids, pour the oil into a clean glass jar for storage.
To make ghee: Ghee is very similar to clarified butter, but the key difference is that clarified butter is cooked to the point where the water evaporates and the milk solids separate and sink, and ghee is cooked for a few minutes longer so that the milk solids begin to caramelize. As the butter is in it’s second foam, stir the butter to help the milk solids at the bottom cook and caramelize evenly.
Once the milk solids have reached a nice light brown colour, and the butter fat is still a rich-yellow, it’s time to strain off the milk solids. Using a cheese cloth and fine sieve strainer to catch the milk solids, pour the ghee through the sieve and into a clean glass jar. Let the ghee cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge.
Note: I’ve read other sites that say you can store ghee outside of the fridge, however I tend to use unsalted butter, and I found that my first batch of regular ghee that I made actually started to get mouldy when I left it on the counter. So I’d recommend that if you’re using unsalted butter that you keep your ghee stored in the refrigerator.
To Make Brown Butter Ghee: Brown butter is the ghee that happens right before the butter begins to burn. I got lucky the first time I made this stuff because even though I wasn’t paying attention, I was able to catch it right before it hit that burning point and turned black. So I warn you if you’re attempting to make this caramel-goodness to watch it carefully.
You’re going to want to continue to cook the butter until the fat turns a deep amber brown and your kitchen smells like a candy factory. Remove the ghee from the stove, and strain it through a cheese cloth and fine-mesh strainer into a clean jar to catch the caramelized milk solids at the bottom.
Check out all those milk solids!
Look at that sexy colour! I promise you, once you get this recipe down you’re not going to be able to stop making and eating this brown butter ghee!
Did you try making this ghee? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences making this recipe, so please let me know in the comments below how you got along with this tutorial, or shoot me an email using my contact page.
- 1 pound of Grass-fed butter, unsalted
- Cut butter into small chunks.
- Add chunks of butter to a small sauce pan. Over medium heat, melt the butter until a foam begins to form on the surface.
- Reduce heat, so that butter reaches a slight simmer, and cook for 15-25 minutes. In this time frame the butter will start to go clear, and the milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan. The butter may stop foaming, and then re-foam for a second time. This indicates you're getting close!
- Stir the butter to help the milk solids at the bottom to cook. The milk solids will begin to brown, and caramelize.
- Once the butter fat has turned from a rich-yellow, to a dark amber, remove the pan from the heat.
- Strain the fat through a fine sieve lined with cheese cloth into a glass jar. Allow the oil to come to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.
- Brown Butter Ghee can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 month, but I'm going to bet you eat this baby right up before then because it's so damn good!