If you’ve ever tried whipped browned butter (or un-whipped), you know that it’s just about the best-tasting thing on the planet. If you’ve never tried browned butter you’d better get on the butter train. We’re going for a ride!
Yeah, plain ol’ butter is tasty, but taking a little bit of 30 minutes to heat it on the stove into a golden, nutty, smooth, sexy type of butter is where it’s at!
What is browned butter anyway?
Butter is made up of fat, protein, milk solids, and water. If you heat butter, what will happen to the water? It will evaporate. After the water evaporates, the fats and milk solids have to do something in there.
Fry up those milk solids!
When frying food, the oil heats up to a temperature in which it will bubble and fry foods to cook them and make them super tasty. This is the same thing that happens to the milk solids in butter.
Once the water evaporates, the temperature will rise and start to fry the little bits of milk solids in the oil. Fry them to a nice golden brown and they turn into something magical. The taste infuses into the oil as well, giving it a rich, slightly nutty taste.
In this process, because there is no water left in the butter, it won’t spoil as easily. So it becomes shelf stable. I leave mine in the pantry at room temperature for weeks and it’s fine.
Is browned butter good for high-heat cooking?
Unfortunately, no. Because the milk solids are at their maximum browning point, if you heat them up much more they could burn. And burnt butter is not what we’re going for here.
But there is a solution! Strain those browned bits out of your butter when it’s still melted, and you’ve got a high-heat oil, infused with a slight browned butter taste. How ’bout that?
Use a candy thermometer for no-brainer results!
You don’t absolutely need it, but if you have one, use it! This streamlines the process so you don’t really even have to think. Just watch the temperature, stir occasionally, and when the butter reaches 140ºF/60ºC, take it off the heat and immediately put it into a container. The temperature will keep rising a bit, and you don’t want it to burn. Again, burnt butter = bad. Browned butter = good.
If you don’t have a candy thermometer, don’t fret. Just keep an eye on it. When you see the bits at the bottom turning golden to dark golden brown, take it off the heat.
To whip or not to whip, that is the question.
Whip it good! Okay, it doesn’t have to be whipped, but who doesn’t like whipped butter? One reason I like to whip my browned butter afterward is because if you just put it in a container, the browned bits sink to the bottom. I’d rather have them dispersed evenly throughout. All you need for this is a hand mixer.
Whipped Browned Butter Recipe
- 2 sticks of butter (226 grams) you’ll want more of this stuff hanging around so I’d just use the entire box
- Candy Thermometer optional, but very useful
- Hand mixer
- Put butter into a saucepan and turn the heat up to medium.
- Attach your candy thermometer if you’ve got one, and watch the temperature.
- After a few minutes the butter will start to boil. If you’ve got a candy thermometer, the liquid will stay at 100ºC (212ºF) until the water cooks off.
- Once the mixture stops boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low. Keep an eye on the thermometer. The temperature will start creeping up. Stir gently, periodically with your spatula to mix the milk solids around. When the oil reaches 140ºC (284ºF), take the pan off the heat and pour into a container. If using a glass container, make sure it is very hot to avoid cracking.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, you’ll see the mixture start to bubble rapidly and foam a bit. It may be a little difficult to see the milk solids at the bottom but you can take a spoon to scoop them up and inspect them. When they’re a golden brown, take it off the heat.
- You can store this butter in a cool, dry place for about a month (if it lasts that long).
(I don’t like to wait to whip it because it takes forever to solidify, so here’s my trick)
- Pour the browned butter into a bowl (preferably metal, so it gets cold fast). Pop the bowl into the freezer for 10 minutes. Stir it up and let it sit for another few minutes, until it’s about 50% solid. If it gets too hard, put the bowl over some hot water until a little bit of it is melted. It should be soft but opaque.
- Then whip it with a hand mixer until it’s light in color and fluffy.