How to brown butter: Five tips to master the technique

Take your recipes to the next level with nutty homemade brown butter. Here are five tips to help you perfect the process and bring fragrant variations to your favourite dishes.

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Angus Fergusson

Developing our 10-minute brown butter recipe was a lot of fun. The brown butter trend seems to ebb and flow, and right now it is flowing more than ever. I distinctly remember a decade growing up when brown butter was drizzled over every green been, broccoli floret and sweet potato that crossed my lips. Then it seemingly disappeared. The recent resurgence of brown butter has ushered in new creative and innovative ways of using it.

Here are five tips to make help you master the art of browning butter.

1. Use a good quality, thick-bottomed, stainless steel pot. Having a bright bottomed pot makes it easier to determine when the butter begins to brown, as well as how rapidly it continues to turn. The thick bottom will best distribute heat evenly, giving a consistency to the rate of browning.

2. Be patient. Never exceed medium heat or you will burn your butter. Keep a close eye on it,  once the colour begins to change it will happen quickly.

3. Slice or cube your butter into small, even pieces. Ideally, uniform pieces will melt evenly, keeping a consistent temperature throughout the butter.

4. Substitute brown butter in baking, such as in our best-ever buttercream cupcakes. Any place you use regular butter, replace it with brown butter for a lovely, nutty flavour twist. When you plan to use brown butter for baking, make it the day ahead and chill it overnight so the butter has returned to a solid. Make sure to scrape all the butter off the dish, as the browned solids tend to settle at the bottom.

5. Use unsalted butter unless you are really stuck. Use unsalted butter to avoid the slight chemical reaction caused by salt (especially in baking), as well as to have more control over the salt quantity — it’s a good rule to follow.  That being said, we tested browning butter several times with salted butter and … it worked every time! So, use your unsalted butter if you have it, otherwise salted butter will do in a pinch.

Visit our brown butter recipe and try these quick and fun applications: Sweet’n Salty Popcorn, Lemony fish filet and Easy, cheesy linguine

Originally published August 13th, 2012.