Free Range Butter

How to Brown Butter

By Nellie's Kindness Crew

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Making the nutty, amber-colored, practically magical substance known as brown butter is easier than you think. So easy, in fact, that this simple upgrade to your chocolate chip cookies, ravioli, and roasted veggies requires nothing more than a stick of Nellie's Free Range Butter and a hot pan.

How to brown butter

Browning butter is the act of cooking or toasting the milk solids found in butter, which make up 1-2% of it. Milk solids burn faster than butterfat, so as they cook, they give the butter a characteristic nutty flavor and dark amber color. This process is also known as the Maillard reaction. Don't let the scientific term scare you, though—no matter how much experience you have in the kitchen, browning butter is an easy technique to learn.

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Supplies:

  • Butter (we recommend browning 1-2 sticks at a time)
  • A shallow medium-sized pan with a light or white colored bottom (this makes it easy to see the milk solids change color as they brown)
  • A heatproof container
  • A whisk or large spoon

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Instructions:

  • Melt butter in pan over medium heat, whisking frequently, until butter is fully melted and begins to bubble and foam (this is the water cooking off). Don't leave the stove unattended.
  • As bubbling starts to decrease, whisk constantly and pay close attention to the bottom of the pan. You're almost to the browning phase!
  • When you start to see brown spots appear at the bottom of the pan, continue to whisk constantly to ensure that the butter browns evenly. The mixture in your pan should be fairly clear with a white foam on top at this stage. Be very careful, as brown butter can turn into black butter in the blink of an eye.
  • Once you see a fairly solid layer of caramel-colored spots (not dark brown or black spots) forming at the bottom of the pan, remove the pan from the heat and continue whisking for a few more seconds.
  • Immediately transfer brown butter into a heatproof container to stop the cooking process. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate or use in your favorite recipe.

Some people prefer to leave the milk solids in the pan and only use the clear liquid so that there aren't any noticeable speckles in the final product. If this matters to you, simply pour the brown butter into your heatproof container, leaving behind the milk solids that have settled to the bottom of the pan.

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How to store brown butter

Like regular butter, brown butter should always be covered so that it doesn't take on any flavor from other ingredients in your fridge. A lidded glass jar will do the trick. Although brown butter can be stored on your counter, it will last much longer in the refrigerator—up to 3 months.

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Brown butter uses

Brown butter can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It's a great choice for baking, low heat sautéing, and braising, and adds a deliciously nutty and complex flavor that complements just about anything. Here are a few recipes to try with brown butter in place of regular butter:

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