Why and How to Clarify Butter

Why We Clarify Butter

Butter provides a unique flavor and aroma too many dishes, but the problem with butter, is that before you get to its smoke point, the milk solids have gone past browning to burning.  Removing the milk and water solids allows you to retain much of the flavor of butter while being able to cook at higher temperatures. Clarified butter without milk solids is also called drawn butter, but don’t confuse clarified butter with Ghee.  Ghee is traditionally used in Indian cooking.  Ghee takes clarified butter to another level, it’s cooked even longer to remove all the moisture, and the milk solids are browned (caramelized) in the fat and then strained out. This gives a rich nutty taste. Ghee has a longer shelf life, both refrigerated and at room temperature.


How to Clarify Butter

Things you will need:

  • 1¼ lbs. unsalted butter to make 1 lb. clarified butter
  • Sauce pan with a heavy bottom for even heat distribution.  A thin bottomed sauce pan has hot spots when heated causing the butter to burn while heating.
  • Perforated spoon to remove foam (milk solids)
  • Cheesecloth


  1. Cut butter into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Heat butter in a heavy sauce pan over low heat.
  3. When butter has melted, remove it from the heat and let stand for 4 minutes. (The water in the butter will evaporate, and the majority of the milk solids will sink and stick to the bottom of the pan).
  4. Using the perforated spoon skim as much of the froth from surface being careful not to disturb the layers of melted butter.
  5. Strain remainder of butter through a double layer of rinsed and squeezed cheesecloth; discard any remaining solids and froth that are left on the cloth.

The remaining butter is clarified, and can be kept up to 3 to 4 weeks if stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.

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