What Is Brown Butter? Find Out and Get Our Favorite Ways to Cook and Bake with It

Some call it liquid gold; we say this one-ingredient wonder is a secret weapon for cooking and baking, and it's the ultimate fall flavor.

It feels like a magic trick every time. Brown butter is a simple one-ingredient sauce, a chef trick that can transform all kinds of recipes, savory and sweet. In mere minutes, a stick of unsalted butter melts, then simmers and sputters, transforming into an intoxicatingly fragrant and impossibly silky brown sauce. As soon as the foam subsides, the milk solids darken and fall to the bottom of the pan, which indicates that you've hit the sweet spot. It's no surprise the French call it beurre noisette, or "hazelnut butter," as that is what your kitchen will smell like when you make it. An unmistakable nutty aroma fills the air, and you're well on your way to better, bolder-flavored food.

Learn how to make brown butter and get inspired by the many delicious ways to use it on meat, fish, vegetables, pastas, and in desserts.

How to Make Brown Butter

Follow this method, using the amount of butter needed for the recipe, to make delicious brown butter every single time: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high. When it boils, reduce heat to medium, then simmer until foamy. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pan, until the foam subsides, the butter turns golden brown with a nutty aroma, and the milk solids separate into brown specks that sink to bottom, about two to seven minutes (depending on amount of butter used). Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a heatproof bowl unless otherwise noted in recipe (your butter may burn if left in the hot pan).

Stephen Kent Johnson

How to Use Brown Butter

Now you know how easy it is to make brown butter, you'll be using it on the regular. Here are a few of our favorite recipes that use brown butter, but know that you don't need a recipe to use it in your cooking.Try drizzling brown butter over just-cooked chicken or fish or still-warm polenta, risotto, or mashed potatoes.

Pro Tip: To guarantee you always have brown butter on hand to enhance pastries, sauces, and more, make a big batch and freeze it in ice-cube trays

Stephen Kent Johnson

Poached Salmon, Spinach, and Potato Salad

Poached fish is no stranger to a drizzle of brown butter before serving, but in this Poached Salmon, Spinach, and Potato Salad it's the secret ingredient in the salad dressing: Dijon, shallot, and sherry vinegar emulsify with the sauce, turning it into a velvety, tangy counterpoint that ties the whole dish together.

chicken potpie
Courtesy of Stephen Kent Johnson

Chicken Potpie with Brown-Butter Crust

Just when you thought you couldn't improve on potpie, brown butter comes along and raises the bar with more flavor, more flakiness, and more nuttiness than a crust has ever offered. This Chicken Potpie with Brown-Butter Crust is not to be missed.

Stephen Kent Johnson

Apple-Cardamom Brown-Butter Dutch Baby

Nutty brown butter is the best companion to one of the most impressive breakfast foods you can make at home, the Dutch baby. Also called a German pancake, this delight puffs up to great heights while cooking, with the sides climbing and then reaching out over the edges of the pan. In our Apple-Cardamom Brown-Butter Dutch Baby, the butter carries the spicy flavor of the cardamom through to each bite, warming up each wedge of cooked apple, totally next-level brunch!

Stephen Kent Johnson

Lemony Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies

Buttery baked goods become even more flavorful when that butter is browned. These Lemony Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies are simple to prepare, and the richness of the butter shines a light on a complementary ingredient: lemon.

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