How To Brown Butter (and how to make it better!)

Browning butter is such a simple technique but it brings the best flavor. All it is, is butter that has melted, and then cooked a step further so that the milk solids in the butter caramelize. 

In this guide, I’ll walk you how to brown butter perfectly and how to use it, plus, adding an extra ingredient (milk powder) brings out its flavor even more!

brown butter poured into bowl.

What you’ll need

  • Butter: A good quality butter! I use unsalted butter or salted, whatever I’ve got on hand.
  • A light-colored pan: Don’t use a dark pan because you will struggle to see the caramelization of the butter (and risk burning it.)
  • A whisk: To stir and scrape the bottom of the pan because the milk solids will stick.

How to brown butter

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat. Don’t turn the heat up too high if it’s your first time making it, so you can get used to the stages of cooking without it cooking too quickly.
melted butter.
  1. Stir with a whisk as the butter melts and begins to foam.
melted butter.
  1. The butter will get noisy as the water evaporates from it, then it will quite down once the water has evaporated.

You’ll see the milk solids float on top of the butter at first. Then they will drop to the bottom of the pan. These are what will caramelize and bring all the flavor. If you scrape those milk solids off before they drop, you would have made clarified butter.

  1. Watch for color changes while the butter is foaming and keep whisking.
browned butter
  1. The milk solids at the bottom will go from yellow to golden tan to an amber brown.

The timing of it all depends on how much butter you are browning and how high you’ve got your heat. For 1/2 cup of butter it can take around 5 minutes, while for 1 cup it can take around 10-12 minutes.

Liquid and creamed butter

In savory dishes you can serve the brown butter hot, as a sauce. In baking if you’re using it as a liquid, unless the recipe states otherwise, let it cool down in a heat-proof bowl first.

One of the few times I don’t let the butter cool first is in these brown butter brownies, because I use the hot butter to melt the chocolate.

To use brown butter in recipes calling for creamed butter, you’ll need to firm it up up first. Cool it by transferring it to a heatproof bowl and letting it firm up at room temperature.

Adding in water

Butter has around 15% water, and this is evaporated when you brown it. This means the weight of the butter will be less then with what you started. It also means the butter has less liquid in it than if you were using regular butter.

If a recipe calls for brown butter, follow what’s there, but if you are subbing out regular butter for browned butter yourself, sometimes you might need to add in a little extra liquid to account for the water that was evaporated. For every 1/2 cup (113g) butter that is browned, you’ll lose about 16g water which is about 1 tablespoon. You can add that water (or use milk) back into the butter after it has been browned.

Adding extra flavor with milk powder

Milk solids are the magical part of brown butter that actually do the browning and bring the flavor. Milk powder are essentially just milk solids (and toasted milk powder is another amazing addition to baking!), so adding a little extra really brings out the flavor even more!

  1. Add milk powder to the butter once it has melted and is just starting to foam.
a little bowl of milk powder.
  1. About 1 tablespoon of milk powder for every half cup of butter.
brown butter foaming
  1. Continue with the browning process as usual.

It’s delicious in frostings like brown butter cream cheese, or Swiss meringe buttercream too!

Easy Brown Butter

Elien Lewis
Browning butter is such a simple technique that brings amazing flavor. It’s simply butter that has melted, and then cooked a step further so that the milk solids in the butter caramelize. Adding extra milk powder makes it even better!
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 107 kcal


  • 115 g unsalted butter chopped into even chunks
  • 7 g milk powder optional


  • Let the butter melt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Use a light-colored pan, or you will struggle to see the caramelization of the milk solids and might burn them.
  • Once the butter melts, let it cook for around 3-4 minutes, regularly whisking.
  • Once it starts to foam, add milk powder if using, and whisk until it browns into a deep amber color and smells nutty and caramel-like.
  • Pour the melted butter, including all the caramelized bits, from the bottom of the pan into a heat-proof bowl.


The milk powder is optional but adds a lot of extra flavor. If you omit it, follow the recipe the same, just leave out the milk powder.


Calories: 107kcalCarbohydrates: 0.3gProtein: 0.4gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 5mgPotassium: 15mgSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 367IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 0.01mg
Keyword brown butter
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating