Baker Bettie

How to Use Brown Butter in Baking

Learn all about how to make brown butter and how to use brown butter in baking. Brown butter is one of the easiest ways to make any baked good taste gourmet. Even the simplest of recipes can be quickly elevated with the addition of brown butter. 

Left side: cubed butter in saucepan. Right side: browned butter in measuring cup.

When I very first started getting into baking in 2010, cookies were my obsession. I was totally focused on creating the most perfect chocolate chip cookie and did endless research on various ways to amp up the flavor and texture of what I dreamed my perfect cookie would be.

I can’t even remember where I first saw it, but I read somewhere about using brown butter in a cookie and how much depth of flavor it added.

At the time, I was still a newbie in the kitchen and didn’t even know what brown butter was. But I was bound and determined to make it and put it in cookies.

After I made brown butter for the first time I was absolutely obsessed! The nutty aroma is intoxicating and the flavor profile it added to my cookies was like no other!

Since then, brown butter has quickly become a trend in home baking. It was already getting there at the time, but it has gotten huge over the last 5 years. And while there are a lot of food trends that I find kind of silly, this is NOT one of them.

Using brown butter in your baked goods is a trend that should never end! In my personal opinion, brown butter is one of the easiest and quickest ways to take a very ordinary baking recipe and make it extraordinary!

 What is brown butter?

Brown butter comes from the term beurre noisette which in french actually means hazelnut butter. When butter melts, the butterfat and the milk solids separate.

If you’ve ever made clarified butter you have seen this in action. Because the milk solids are heavier than the fat, they sink down to the bottom of the pan and after some time they begin to brown.

As the butter browns, it takes on a whole new flavor profile. It becomes nutty and rich. You will begin to smell it very distinctly once the butter is beginning to brown. In fact, I relied heavily on the smell of the butter to know when it was done the first few times I made it.

Brown butter is used in many savory preparations for sauces and is also used in many french pastries. More recently, it has become popular to use in many other simpler baked goods to enhance the flavor.

How to make brown butter.

To make brown butter you only need 1 ingredient: butter. I prefer to use unsalted butter because I like to control the salt content in my baking, but salted butter will also work.

Cubed butter

Step 1: Cut the butter into pieces

Cutting the butter into smaller even pieces serves two purposes. It melts faster and, more importantly, it melts more evenly. You don’t want bits of the butter to start browning before others.

This is a good rule of thumb when you are ever cooking with a large amount of butter.

Cubed butter in saucepan

Step 2: Melt the butter over medium heat.

You do not want to rush this process because you can easily go from melted butter to burnt butter if you aren’t careful. I suggest putting your saucepan over medium heat and sticking close by. Stir the butter frequently and keep a close eye on it.

Melted butter in saucepan

Step 3: Continue cooking and stirring until butter browns.

The process of browning butter goes through several stages. If you watch the butter closely you will see it melt, bubble up and get murky, then clear up, then brown.

As the butter cooks, a few things happen. The water evaporates out of the butter and then the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan.

You will be able to see when it has gotten to this point because the butter will become noticeably clearer and you will be able to see to the bottom of the pan.

Melted butter in saucepan with solids floating on top

At this point, once the butter becomes very clear, you could ladle off the butter fat leaving the milk solids in the bottom of the pan and you would have clarified butter. But if you continue cooking, the milk solids and the butter fat will begin to brown.

This process of browning food is actually a chemical reaction called the Maillard Reaction. You will begin smelling a distinct nutty aroma and if you watch it you can see the butter turn an amber color. I like to shoot for a medium to dark amber color.

Error on the side of lighter the first few times you make it. Because if you go too far with it, the butter will taste bitter and burnt. There is a fine line between dark brown butter and burnt butter.

Browned butter in measuring cup

This butter here has just barely started to brown. It is a light amber color. Do you see how the milk solids are settled there at the bottom? That is natural.

When you remove the brown butter from the heat to cool, the milk solids will stay separated. It is important to get all of those brown bits into your batter when baking. That is where all the magical brown butter flavor lives!

Step 4: Adjust the Recipe to Account for Water Loss

Butter is about 15% water and all of this evaporates off during the butter browning process. To account for this loss, you need to adjust the liquid in your recipe.

For every 1 stick (4 oz, 112 gr) of butter that is browned you will need to add an additional 1 tablespoon of water or liquid to the recipe. If your recipe calls for milk or coffee or another liquid, you can just increase that amount. Otherwise, use water.

Step 5: Consider the Original Recipe & Bake with the Brown Butter!

If the original recipe uses melted butter, then you are good to go once the butter has cooled. However, if the original recipe uses solid or cold butter, then you need to return it to that state. 

You pour the butter into a bowl and let it return to room temperature for recipes that call for softened butter. Or you can refrigerate it if your recipe calls for cold butter. 

Recipe Ideas for Baking with Brown Butter

The Fudgiest Brownies in All the Land

These brownies are the perfect canvas for using your brown butter. The recipe calls for melting butter first and then adding in chopped chocolate to the warm butter.

I almost always make these with brown butter and, holy moly, are these good. I have had numerous people tell me they are the best brownies they ever had!

Fudgy Brownies

Baker Bettie’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you’ve ever read the recipe for or even made my best chocolate chip cookies then you know that brown butter is a major component.

In this recipe you need to make the butter at least an hour ahead of time so that it can re-solidify. They are so worth it!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

5 Ingredient Classic Pancakes

My simple pancake recipe is my go to for quick weekend breakfasts. They are simple and perfect. But when I want something a little more special, instead of just melting the butter I go ahead and brown it. Brown butter pancakes are to die for!

Stack of pancakes and syrup

Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

These biscuits are absolutely my favorite biscuits. They are super flaky and buttery. BUT when made with brown butter, it is a whole new animal.

For these you have to brown the butter and then let it get cold again because a lot of the rise from this biscuit recipe has to do with keeping the ingredients cold. It also has to do with the moisture evaporating, so I suggest only browning half the amount of butter called for so that you do not evaporate out all of the water in the butter.

You want at least some of that to help with the rise. So good!

Flaky buttery biscuits

Tips for Making and Using Brown Butter

  • Always cut the butter in small pieces first for even cooking
  • A better quality butter equals a better tasting brown butter
  • Always stay close and watch the butter, stirring frequently. It can go from brown to burnt very quickly.
  • All of the brown bits that sink to the bottom are the browned milk solids. Those are liquid gold and packed with flavor. Make sure you use those in the batter.
  • Part or all of the butter in a baking recipe can be browned depending on the intensity of flavor you are looking for.
  • Use the brown butter like you would regular butter in the recipe. If the recipe calls for melted, room temp, or cold butter, make sure the brown butter is in this state before baking.

Cubed butter

How to Use Brown Butter in Baking

Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Brown butter is one of the easiest ways to make any baked good taste gourmet! Even the simplest of recipes can be quickly elevated with the addition of brown butter.


  • 1 cup (225 grams) butter, salted or unsalted


  1. Cut butter into small cubes and place in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Let the butter melt and then begin cooking. Stir frequently and watch the butter. It will bubble up and become murky then clear up as the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Continue cooking and stirring until the butter starts to smell nutty and turns a medium amber color. Remove from the heat and transfer into a heat proof bowl.


  • The timing for how long it takes the butter to brown will really vary depending on how much butter you are browning. I find that a half pound of butter usually takes about 13-15 minutes to brown over medium heat.
  • If you will be using your brown butter in a baking recipe that originally called for regular butter, remember to adjust the liquid in your recipe. For every 1 stick (4 oz, 112 gr) of butter a recipe calls for, increase the liquid by 1 tablespoon. If your recipe calls for milk or coffee or another liquid you can increase that amount. Otherwise, add water.

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28 comments on “How to Use Brown Butter in Baking”

  1. Hey, there. Can one use resolidified brown butter for buttercream?

  2. Thank you very much:)

  3. Because of the water content the butter changes volume after browned and solidified, so how do you convert browned butter for regular butter. is it 1 for 1 or what. I have always wondered.

    • The water will evaporate off the butter when it is browned. So for every 1 stick (4 oz, 112 gr) of butter that is browned you will want to add 1 tablespoon of liquid. You can just increase the liquid in the recipe or add water!

  4. Hi Baker Bettie,

    First off, I LOVE your recipes! Thank you sharing!

    Now to get to business…I was wondering if you could explain to me the science of using butter vs oil vs butter and oil together in cakes. Specifically, how I can replace some butter for some oil in cakes? I am trying to make my cakes more moist but still have a butter flavor. If a recipe calls for 1 cup butter, will replacing 1/4 cup butter with 3 tablespoons be okay? How will this effect my cakes final result?


    • Hi Lia!

      Butter and oil act very differently in baking. The purpose of butter in a cake is not just for flavor, but also for the creaming process which creates a web of air between the sugar and butter. This is an important process for a butter cake. Oil, however, will not work for this process, but oil does create a more moist cake. If you do want to try to replace some of the butter with oil, I would do a small amount and replace it with the same amount of oil. I would start with 2 tbsp of butter replaced with 2 tbsp of oil. If that works well, then you could increase to 1/4 cup but replace it with 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) of oil. You will just have to play around with it and see how it works!

  5. Great post, I do have a question. When you substitute brown butter in a recipe do you measure it before the browning process or after? Meaning, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter do you brown extra to account for the moisture loss?

    • Hi ! I have the same question about measuring: Do you measure before you brown the butter or after?

      • I am looking for a fantastic change in my recipes playing with same ingredients i have… i feel this will really help me out.. thank you

    • Hi Jeffrey!

      In order for butter to brown, the water has to evaporate off. Butter is about 15% water. You want to start with the amount of butter the recipe calls for, brown it, and then add the evaporated liquid back into the recipe. You will need 1 tablespoon for every 1 stick (4 oz, 112 gr) the recipe calls for. You can just add water, or increase any other liquid the recipe already is using. Hope that helps!

  6. I, too, am wondering about measuring the correct ratio of browned butter versus regular butter.  I would think that once you brown 1/2 cup of butter you will be left with less than 1/2 cup once you go through the process.  I see that these questions have all gone unanswered since January 2017.  Maybe you can update the comments for those of us who have just recently discovered your page!  Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Pati! Happy to have you here! I have updated the post to make it more clear. In short, butter is about 15% water and this will evaporate off when you brown the butter. So for every stick of butter that is browned for baking, you want to add 1 tablespoon of water or increase the other liquid in the recipe by this amount. Keep in mind that this only refers to recipes that you are adapting to be used with brown butter. If the recipe is written to use brown butter already, then the amount of liquid should already be correct. Hope that helps!

  7. Can you emulsify hot sauces using this Browns butter? For instance bourbon sauces and buerblancs? Do you know if there’s temperature limit to it?

    • Hi Rashad,

      Though I have never tried it, my knowledge of how butter emulsifies sauces tells me that it won’t work. In order for butter to properly emulsify a sauce it must keep its emulsion in tact. However, the process of making brown butter works to break the emulsion so that the solids will brown.

  8. Hi Hi Bettie, Thank you so much for sharing your hard-earned knowledge and information, tricks and tips. I have a question. Could I make a batch of browned butter and keep it in the ‘fridge to use as desired? If yes, how long would the browned butter be good for in the ‘fridge and how long if frozen?

    • Hi Alliya! You are so welcome. Yes, you can keep brown butter in the fridge or freezer. You can keep it in the fridge for about 10 days and in the freezer for about 3-4 months. However, the browned milk solids will settle at the bottom so I always cool it in the serving size I will be using in my recipe.

  9. Hello, I love your blog! I am going to bake with brown butter, and I am just wondering whether I use the salt that has sunk to the bottom of the pan as well as the nutty brown bits? So do I just use all the butter or do i need to strain the salt?


    • Hi Isabelle! I typically make brown butter with unsalted butter. I just like to control the salt in any of my recipes. However, if you are using salted butter I would use all of the bits from the brown butter but then make sure you are reducing the salt in the recipe by about 1/4 tsp per stick of butter. Hope that helps!

  10. Hey so I am making brown butter and using it in a CC cookie recipe which calls for softened butter.

    So do i still add 1 tbsp water in ratio of 1 stick of butter to batter and use softened brown butter? Or there is no need to add water?

    • Hi Yukti, Yes if the original recipe was written to be used with softened butter then you will want to replace 1 tbsp water to account of the liquid that cooked off when browning the butter. Hope that helps!

  11. These tips and instructions on browning butter is so helpful! Thank you!!
    I found a recipe that called for browned butter and another that called for regular, and I’m going to mash up the two together for what I hope is a deliciously rich cookie!

  12. Thank you for explaining this so well! I just made cookies with brown butter and was floored by the flavor. I want it in as many recipes as possible!

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