Friday, February 18, 2011

Kitchen Basics - Ghee (Clarified Butter)

Ghee is a form of clarified butter used in numerous cuisines around the world, most notably in Indian cuisine (it is held as sacred in Hindu culture). Ghee is made simply by slowly simmering unsalted butter until all of the moisture has boiled off & evaporated, leaving the milk solids at the bottom of the pan and the clarified butter above it. 

Ghee does not need to be refrigerated and has a high smoke point (about 450 degrees Fahrenheit), making it a great fat for frying. Though preparing ghee is time-consuming, requiring you to keep a vigil eye on your pan, it's easy, effortless and worth the time (making ghee will take about 30-45 minutes). 

One pound of butter will yield about 1 1/2 cups of ghee (I like to store mine in a clean pint mason jar)

adapted from Alton Brown

1 lb unsalted butter

Place the butter in a cold, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Do NOT let the pan heat up before adding the butter. 

Allow all of the butter to melt; a white layer of milk solids mixed with water will start to form a layer at the top. Slowly bring the butter to a boil without increasing the heat. It is very important to NOT allow the milk solids to burn, since it will ruin the taste of the ghee.

As the butter boils and the moisture evaporates, the milk solids will begin to disintegrate. As it boils, the butter will bubble and sputter; reduce the heat if needed, stirring the butter occasionally to keep the milk solids from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. 

Once all of the moisture has evaporated, large foamy bubbles will begin to form, covering the entire surface of the ghee. Reduce the heat and let the butter simmer. The large bubbles will become smaller, frothy bubbles and then the foam will disappear. At this point, reduce the heat to the lowest setting or turn the heat off entirely (I turned the heat off). 

These are the milk solids that have separated from the butter. 

The ghee should be coated with a white foam; at this point, the milk solids should have settled to the bottom of the pan. With this second foaming, the ghee is done. If you haven't done so already, turn off the heat. The ghee will continue to render and the milk solids will brown; once done, the ghee will be a clear, golden liquid. Remove from the stove and let cool to room temperature.

The milk solids have browned and settled to the bottom. 

The ghee is visible as the clear, golden liquid. 

The milk solids are browned but not burned. 

Once cooled, carefully ladle the ghee through a cheesecloth or coffee filter-lined strainer into a clean jar. Like lard, the ghee will solidify once completely cooled. Wait until the ghee has COMPLETELY cooled before placing an airtight lid on it. Any moisture from condensation (or from using a wet utensil to spoon out the ghee) will cause it to turn rancid. Store the ghee at room temperature.

The browned milk solids, strained from the ghee

Like lard, ghee is liquid when hot but solidifies when cooled. 

Once cooled, the ghee solidifies. 


  1. ooo, clarified butter. always, always, always a treat!

  2. The milk solids can be used for anything. We usually add it to bread baking (roti). It's nutritious and adds great texture.

    1. I had no idea - thanks so much!!

  3. What a well explained and illustrated recipe. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to share it on my Facebook page.

  4. Great, ghee making is always a rocket science for me. Well explained and neat.