While ghee it’s one of my favorite cooking fats, its high cost can be tough to swallow. That motivated me to start making homemade ghee. I tried two different methods and when I botched one, I came upon one of my happiest cooking accidents: brown butter ghee. This is the story of my journey into golden pools of clarified butter. C’mon and jump in!
What’s the big deal about ghee?
Ghee, or clarified butter, has been used for hundreds of years in Indian cooking. As Paleo and ketogenic diets have become mainstream here in the west, so, too has ghee. Why? Clarifying butter removes the milk solids, which means you’re literally skimming off the lactose that poses digestive issues for so many people. The leftover fat is rich in heart-healthy, brain-boosting short- and medium-chain fatty acids as well as fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and E. Even better: grass-fed ghee. Like grass-fed beef, ghee made from pastured cows is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound proven to reduce inflammation and thought to protect the heart and liver.
I’m well-aware of the argument that ghee is unheathy due to its saturated fat content. But here’s the thing: there have been multiple studies showing that ghee is okay in moderation. In fact, a pair of studies done on young, healthy Indian volunteers showed you’re probably fine as long as ghee makes up less than 10 percent of your diet. So if you have heart problems and your doctor is telling you “olive oil only,” listen to her, not me. But if you’re a healthy adult looking to improve your diet while saving money, read on.
Okay, I’ll try it. But can’t I just get it at the store?
Commercially produced, organic, grass-fed ghee is widely available in high-end grocery stores like Whole Foods. And while brands like 4th & Heart produce a high-quality, grab-and-go product, the $12-per-jar price tag can be prohibitive. This is especially true if you enjoy its mild, nutty flavor in baked goods as I do. In fact, I got to a point over the holidays where I was buying a new jar almost every week. That’s just not sustainable for my budget. So I turned to my trusty, hand-held Google machine for help and found out that ghee is surprisingly easy to make. What’s more, homemade ghee is about 40% cheaper than store-bought, even when you use organic, grass-fed butter. So I started working it into my weekly meal prep routine to save money on groceries.
My research uncovered two methods for making homemade ghee: in the oven and on the stove. Both involve tossing butter into a pan, heating it, then straining it with cheese cloth. Easy enough! But one day I was making stove top ghee and I totally forgot about it. About 25 minutes after I’d set the pot on the stove, the kitchen filled with the smell of caramel. Ohhhhh fuuuuuuudge! I’ve just wasted a pound of butter! I thought, racing to yank the pot from the stove. But what was inside smelled way too good to be trash. I let it cool, then tasted it and realized I’d stumbled upon a secret weapon: brown butter ghee.
Why brown butter ghee belongs in your fridge.
There are some foods that great home chefs keep in their arsenal: preserved lemons and homemade pickles come to mind. I believe brown butter ghee belongs in that category. Its rich, nutty, candy-like flavor makes it perfect for baking. When used as a 1:1 substitute for butter, it transforms classic cookies and blondies into otherworldly, melt-in-your-mouth confections with an appetizing, toffee color that screams “Eat me NOW!”
What’s more, it’s just as easy to make as its golden counterpart, only taking a few more minutes than regular homemade ghee. Like regular ghee, it also keeps in the back of your fridge for months, which means you can make a big batch and dip into it whenever you need a flavor boost.
Ok, let’s make some homemade ghee!
Below you’ll find step-by-step instructions for making homemade and brown butter ghee. You’ll notice that each uses a different method: oven for regular ghee and stove top for brown butter ghee. I differentiate only because I’m lazy; I like that the oven method requires almost zero babysitting, while making brown butter ghee on the stove top means I can check it easily without losing heat.
Try both and tell me what you prefer!
Making homemade ghee is a great way to save money on groceries. And it couldn't be easier! Just toss some butter in the oven, melt, and strain. Yup! It really is that simple!
- 1 lb organic, grass-fed butter
Preheat oven to 250. Cut butter into 1-inch chunks and place it in a loaf pan.
Wait until all the butter is fully melted - about 20 minutes - then increase the heat to 275.
Check after 10 minutes. The butter should be a rich, golden color and the milk solids should have risen to the top. If so, remove from the oven.
Let cool slightly, then strain into a jar through four layers of cheese cloth and a wire strainer.
Yields approx 12 oz.
Brown Butter Ghee
What happens when you let butter simmer on the stove for 25 minutes, then strain it? Magic! Meet brown butter ghee, a baker's secret weapon.
- 1 lb organic, grass-fed butter
Cut butter into 1-inch chunks and place in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over low heat, covered.
Remove lid when butter begins to boil and froth.
The milk solids will caramelize and sink, and the butter will turn golden.
The milk will begin to froth a second time. Watch it carefully, as it's beginning to caramelize. When the ghee has turned a dark brown and the froth is showing signs of caramelization, remove it from heat.
Let it cool slightly, then strain into a jar using four layers of cheese cloth and a mesh strainer. WARNING: THIS GHEE IS EXTREMELY HOT. Watch for spills and do not handle the jar without oven mitts for at least 30 minutes.
Yields approx. 9 oz.