- Clarified butter is made by heating butter until the milk solids separate from the butter fat.
- It has a higher smoke point than regular butter, making it great for sautéing or in sauces.
- When stored in an air-tight container, clarified butter will stay fresh for six months.
- Visit Insider's Home & Kitchen Reference library for more stories.
Butter is a staple ingredient in many dishes and helps add extra richness and flavor. However, because it contains milk solids that are prone to burning, it can also be a challenging ingredient to work with when cooking at high temperatures.
If you're determined to get some concentrated and complex butter flavor in a hot, pan-fried dish, then swap out standard butter for clarified butter.
Clarified butter is produced when you separate the fats from the milk solids in butter, leaving you with a translucent golden liquid that serves many useful culinary purposes. "Clarified butter has a higher smoke point than regular butter since the milk solids are not there to burn," says butter-maker Venae Watts of Minerva Dairy in Ohio.
She also points out that clarified butter won't "turn back into a solid at or just below room temperature." That leaves you with a liquified butter that's shelf-stable, can be used to sauté or fry at high temperatures, and that still packs all of the indulgent flavor found in standard butter.
How to make clarified butter
Start by melting one pound of unsalted butter. A pound of regular butter will yield about 12 ounces of clarified butter since the clarified butter won't include any milk solids. Watts says to "melt the butter slowly in a saucepan" over low heat.
Let the butter cook until it starts to bubble. Watts says that, at this point, you'll see "frothy solids" rise to the top. Use a skimmer or a shallow spoon to remove the froth and discard it, then ladle the translucent golden butterfat into an air-tight container. You'll see white milk solids at the bottom of the saucepan, which you can discard.
How to store clarified butter
Clarified butter "is shelf-stable and does not require refrigeration," Watts says. Clarified butter will stay good in an air-tight container like a jar for up to six months at either room or fridge temperature.
You can reheat clarified butter in the same way that you would reheat regular butter. If you're storing it in the refrigerator, Watts recommends that you "bring it slowly to room temperature prior to use."
Clarified butter vs. ghee
Many foodies use "ghee" and "clarified butter" interchangeably, but these two terms don't mean the same thing. Popularly used in Indian food and for Ayurvedic medicinal purposes, ghee is a form of clarified butter that allows the butter to cook with its milk solids for a longer time than clarified butter.
Clarified butter calls for the butter fats to be ladled or strained away from the milk solids as soon as separation occurs. For ghee, the butter fats and the milk solids are kept in contact long enough for the milk solids to pick up some toasted color and flavor.
Once the milk solids sink to the bottom and start to brown, you can ladle or strain the butter fats away. The butterfat that remains will have taken on a bit of the toastiness and intensity of the browned milk solids, making ghee the best of both brown butter and clarified butter.
Clarified butter has a higher smoke point than regular butter. This means it can handle more heat and provide an intense and concentrated buttery flavor to dishes like cream sauces, soups, and seafood platters.
You can make clarified butter by heating unsalted butter over low heat until it bubbles and the golden butter fats (which is the "clarified butter") separate from the milk solids. Once you've made a batch of clarified butter, you can store it in the cabinet or in the fridge and use it for up to six months.
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