- Brown butter is simply melted butter that has been gently cooked to a toasty golden brown.
- This French technique uses the Maillard reaction to create nutty, savory flavors.
- It can be used to add extra depth, richness, and dimension to any dish that calls for butter.
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While many chefs and home cooks already extol the virtues of cooking with butter, it can actually be improved upon. We’re talking about the toasty and delectable iteration known as brown butter.
“Brown butter is truly a wonder ingredient, and even when used in small amounts can have a huge impact on a dish,” says chef, author, and Food Network Kitchen instructor Virginia Willis.
In classic French cooking, it’s called “beurre noisette,” in reference to its hue and hazelnutty flavor. It’s made when butter is melted over low heat until much of its water content evaporates and the milk proteins brown.
The result is a golden brown liquid that possesses a depth of flavor regular butter doesn’t have, like toasty notes of caramel and toffee. “The resulting flavor is phenomenal and can magically transform nearly any dish, savory or sweet,” says Willis.
You can substitute brown butter in nearly any recipe that calls for regular butter, from shortbread to mashed potatoes — brown butter is easy to whip up at home following a few quick steps.
How to use brown butter
- Pasta: Add a few fresh sage leaves to your butter while browning for a savory sauce that goes well with pumpkin gnocchi or butternut ravioli.
- Vegetables: Drizzle brown butter over carrots or green beans for an upscale vegetable side dish.
- Cookies: Use brown butter in place of plain butter for added richness, depth, and nuttiness.
- Fish: Make a quick sauce for your favorite white fish using brown butter and a squeeze of lemon.
- Popcorn: Toss popcorn in a bit of brown butter for an elevated snacking experience.
Brown butter is a transformative ingredient that adds a unique, caramelized richness to a multitude of recipes. Made by gently cooking high-quality butter to a beautiful golden brown color, it is a simple technique that can be used in a variety of applications to give a recipe an extra boost of flavor and complexity. All you need is a saucepan, high-quality butter, and a few minutes to create this “liquid gold.”